What we learned from the Chargers’ 25-17 victory Sunday over Seattle:
THIS TEAM IS SERIOUS ABOUT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY
The Chargers had easily their best victory of the season, beating the Seahawks in a place where the opposition has had little success over the years. Before Sunday, the five teams the Chargers had defeated had a combined nine wins, compared with 28 losses. Seattle was only 4-3 but had won four of five and was coming off delivering a two-touchdown thumping on the road at Detroit. “Proud of these guys today…” coach Anthony Lynn said. “They [the Seahawks] were a hot football team. I thought we handled them pretty well.” Quarterback Philip Rivers admitted afterward that he thought the Chargers were on the verge of blowing the game open at one point. That didn’t happen but an impressive win over a quality opponent away from home did.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE CONTINUES TO COME TOGETHER
Right tackle Joe Barksdale, who missed a good stretch of the first half of the season because of a knee injury, rotated in again on Sunday, sharing time with Sam Tevi. Either way, the Chargers’ up front opened some massive holes for Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 113 yards on only 16 carries coming off a hamstring injury. As a team, the Chargers averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 7.5 per play. That allowed them to out-gain Seattle 375 total yards to 356 despite running 25 fewer plays. Yet they were so efficient and productive that they knew they could have done more. “We gave these guys a chance to stick around, and they played well all the way to the very end,” center Mike Pouncey said. “It was very fortunate for us to get this win.”
THERE’S A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO BE 9-2 ENTERING DECEMBER
The Chargers haven’t started a season with a record as good as 6-2 since 2006. With games coming up at Oakland and then home against Denver and Arizona, this team has a chance to be 9-2 when it visits Pittsburgh on Dec. 2. “I try not to pay attention to the noise, to be honest with you,” Lynn said when asked if the victory Sunday vaulted the Chargers into a higher echelon league-wide. “I just try to get this team better every single week. And today I thought we took another step.” The Chargers opened late Sunday night as 9.5-point favorites over the Raiders, who are currently leading the NFL in hot messes. The Chargers also just finished the second quarter of their season with a 4-0 mark. “We’ve gotten better,” Lynn said. “That’s what this team has done. I feel like we’re better than we ever were in the first quarter of our season.”
THE BELIEF IN THE DEFENSE IS MOUNTING
For the second consecutive week, the Chargers made a dramatic last-second stand in their own end zone to win. In fact, the stand Sunday came with zero seconds remaining, the Seahawks awarded a final untimed down because of a defensive penalty. With these back-to-back game-saving efforts, the confidence in the defense is growing. “We go against these boys every day,” Gordon said. “They’ve been making plays throughout the week in practice. No doubt in my mind they were going to get that done.” Over the last four games, the Chargers have given up 10, 14, 19 and 17 points. “There’s a term that’s been used for a long time, that defense wins championships,” Pouncey said. “If our defense keeps playing like that, we’ll be OK.”
CALEB STURGIS HAD AN EPICALLY BAD DAY
He missed two more extra points, giving him six on the season, and a 42-yard field goal. He was even penalized for kicking, drawing the flag when he was called for tripping following a fourth-quarter kickoff. It would be difficult for an NFL kicker to have a worse day without missing a game-deciding kick. Sturgis’ future with the Chargers appeared to be very much in doubt as the team left CenturyLink Field, the victory about the only thing sparing him from complete embarrassment.