Seahawks dominate line of scrimmage in 23-15 preseason win over Chargers
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said his team was planning to focus on the run during his usual pregame interview on the 710 ESPN Seattle radio broadcast Saturday night.
He was certainly right about that.
The Seahawks performed strongly on the ground on offense and had just as good of a game at the line of scrimmage on defense as they beat the Los Angeles Chargers on the road 23-15 in the third preseason game of the year. The score looks closer than the game actually played out, as the Chargers climbed back into things in the fourth quarter, when the teams turned mostly to players just fighting for roster spots.
While the Seahawks and Chargers were nearly even in the passing game (182 yards for Seattle, 181 for Los Angeles), Seattle’s 187-99 advantage on the ground was the difference.
The big stories from the game for Seattle are the showing of backup quarterback candidate Geno Smith, who rushed for a touchdown and completed 11 of 18 pass attempts for 117 yards, and the duel that broke out in the Seahawks backfield between Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise, who are competing to back up starting running back Chris Carson.
Penny and Prosise each rushed for a touchdown, but it was Prosise who broke out in a stellar second quarter.
Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at the Seahawks’ win.
Chargers 3, Seahawks 0
The Seahawks’ defense started out strong with a three-and-out, but a defensive holding call on third-and-8 on cornerback Shaquill Griffin kept the Chargers’ second series going. Griffin made up for the call with a big pass deflection later in the drive, helping the Seahawks hold the Chargers to a 40-yard Mike Badgley field goal.
What was most important, however, was who was playing for the Seahawks. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright started, as did quarterback Russell Wilson. Wagner had two tackles in the quarter and Wright had one, while running back Chris Carson reeled off a 13-yard rush on one of his three carries before taking the rest of the night off.
LAC – Mike Badgley 40 FG, 3:03 (3-0 LAC)
Seahawks 16, Chargers 3
This game was a big one for second-year running back Rashaad Penny, Seattle’s top draft pick in 2018 who struggled in the first two weeks of the preseason. So when he punched in a touchdown from 3 yards out on a fourth down early in the second quarter, it was a welcome development.
Then C.J. Prosise took center stage.
After Penny’s touchdown capped off a 12-play, 84-yard drive that put Seattle ahead 7-3, the oft-injured Prosise was given four carries on the next Seahawks series. He made the most of them, rushing for 27 yards (a 6.8 average), including a 1-yard touchdown in which he followed a mass of linemen to the end zone. Not only that, but late in the quarter after Geno Smith took over for Wilson at QB, Prosise, whose pass-catching skills have always been a big part of his game, gained 15 yards on a reception.
Prosise’s ability to stick on Seattle’s roster even though injuries have limited him to just 16 regular season games since he was drafted in 2016 has been somewhat remarkable, and his good showing suddenly adds intrigue to the battle to back up starting tailback Chris Carson. Prosise finished the half with five carries for 32 yards (6.4 average) and the 15-yard catch, while Penny had 22 yards on eight carries (2.8 average) plus three catches for 15 yards.
The Seahawks’ defense had a nice quarter, holding the Chargers to 78 yards on 14 plays and twice stopping Los Angeles on fourth down.
The highlight of the first half may have been back-to-back passes from Wilson to top receiver Tyler Lockett on Seattle’s first drive of the second quarter. Lockett picked up 20 and 30 yards on those two respective plays, getting the Seahawks into the red zone for what was the first red zone trip for either team.
A less-than-stellar development for Seattle, meanwhile, was Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers missing an extra point for the first time this preseason after Prosise’s TD run. The good news is that while Myers was wide-right on a 53-yard field goal attempt near the end of the half, a Seattle penalty actually nullified the play and pushed his attempt back to 58 yards – which, naturally, Myers drilled.
Wilson finished his day 6 for 9 passing for 73 yards plus 31 rushing yards on three carries, while Smith was 4 for 7 passing for 27 yards in his first series of the game.
SEA – Rashaad Penny 3 run, 11:35 (Jason Myers kick, 7-3 SEA)
SEA – C.J. Prosise 1 run, 4:16 (kick failed, 13-3 SEA)
SEA – Jason Myers 58 FG, :07 (16-3 SEA)
Seahawks 23, Chargers 3
With Paxton Lynch out with a concussion and having struggled a week prior, Smith had a golden opportunity Saturday to show why he entered the preseason as the favorite to be Wilson’s backup. His play in the third quarter against the Chargers certainly helped his cause.
Smith scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown run late in the third to push the Seahawks’ lead to 23-3, and at the end of the quarter he was 10 for 16 passing for 117 yards (84.6 rating) plus four runs for 26 yards in the game.
Smith’s top target in the third was rookie wide receiver John Ursua, the University of Hawaii product who the Seahawks notably traded back into the draft in the seventh round to pick. Ursua caught a pair of long passes (28 and 24 yards) to move into the team lead for receiving yards with 52.
The Seattle defense continued to stifle the Los Angeles offense as the Seahawks by and large dominated the line of scrimmage. The Chargers’ only series of the third quarter was a three-and-out (not counting the final play of the third when L.A. finally got the ball back), as Seattle had possession for all but 1:49 of the frame.
SEA – Geno Smith 8 run, :16 (Jason Myers kick, 23-6 SEA)
Seahawks 23, Chargers 15
The Chargers finally found some momentum on offense, though it was obviously too little, too late after the Seahawks built a 20-point lead. Andre Patton hauled in an 8-yard pass from Easton Stick for the first Los Angeles touchdown of the game to cap off a 11-play, 75-yard drive, though the PAT was no good. Stick later rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to get L.A. to double-digit points, but again the Chargers couldn’t tack on the extra point as Simeon Thomas blocked the kick.
With the big lead, Seattle resorted to the run game, which the Chargers were no doubt expecting, and the Seahawks went three-and-out for minus-7 yards on the first drive of the fourth quarter (which included a false start call on Ursua).
The Seahawks stopped Los Angeles on downs inside the final 2 minutes and ran out the clock from there.
LAC – Andre Patton 8 pass from Easton Stick, 9:26 (kick failed, 23-9 SEA)
LAC – Stick 4 run, 3:22 (kick blocked, 23-15 SEA)