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Takeaways: Chargers explosive while Seahawks’ offense stalls

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was 26 of 39 for 235 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. (AP)

After popping above .500 last week, the Seahawks fell to 4-4 with their 25-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

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The Seahawks opened with one of their strongest drives of the season, but ultimately couldn’t match the Chargers’ explosiveness. Here are a few quick takeaways:

Seattle struggled to contain explosive plays

The Chargers’ offense only outgained Seattle’s net yardage by 19 yards and converted just 22 percent of their third down attempts. But they were more efficient moving the ball. Los Angeles gained 50 percent more yardage per play (7.5) than Seattle (4.6), and a few of its most explosive plays came at key moments. A pass from Rivers to wide receiver Keenan Allen on third-and-15 for 54 yards and a 21-yard run from Melvin Gordon to get Los Angeles out from behind its own 5-yard line are key examples. Gordon finished the night with 113 yards on 16 attempts and, notably, averaged 7.1 yards per carry, while Allen had six catches for 124 yards (20.7 yards per reception).

Still, the Seahawks’ defense managed to hold the Chargers to 19 points through 3 1/2 quarters before Russell Wilson’s pick-six made it a two-score game. Sacks and penalties often forced the offense into third-and-long situations, and they converted just 4 of 15 third down attempts.

“We got behind the sticks today, and it hasn’t happened for about a month now,” head coach Pete Carroll said postgame. “I think we had four or five third-and-12-pluses or whatever. It changes everything. That’s not the way we’ve been playing. A couple of those are because of sacks, a couple of those were because of penalties. We need to stay out of those situations, obviously.”

‘The game just felt sloppy’

That’s what Carroll said about the loss, referencing Seattle’s 10 penalties and four sacks surrendered.

Seattle was the most penalized team in the league in 2017, though it had managed to trim that total through most of this season. Against the Chargers, however, the Seahawks were penalized 10 times. A few of those flags wiped out pivotal gains. For instance, an offensive pass interference call on wide receiver David Moore pushed Seattle back from third-and-3 at the Chargers’ 28 to third-and-13.

Likewise, Seattle had managed to give up two or fewer sacks in Weeks 2 through 8 after giving up 12 across their first two games. Wilson was sacked four times Sunday, including a third quarter sack for a loss of 13 yards to put Seattle in a third-and-22 situation.

Uneven in a tough stretch

The Seahawks’ loss Sunday wasn’t their worst of the season, but it doesn’t bode well for the tough stretch of contests coming up on their schedule. The team will next head to Los Angeles to face the 8-1 Rams and then, on a short week, come back to Seattle to host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for a Thursday night game.

There have been bright spots for this team – the run game has drastically improved from last season, for one – but the Seahawks won’t have the benefit of playing against struggling teams through the remainder of November.

It’s a schedule made all the more challenging following injuries to three starters. Safety Bradley McDougald (knee), running back Chris Carson (hip), and right guard D.J. Fluker (lower leg) were all forced out of Sunday’s game, and it’s unclear whether those injuries will affect their status for Week 10.

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