CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates on the opening drive of the Los Angeles Chargers’ first preseason game since relocation, but the Seahawks’ backups dominated the rest of the preseason opener in Seattle’s 48-17 victory Sunday night.
Rivers and his first-team offense were excellent, marching 75 yards in 13 plays to begin the Chargers’ three-year residency at 27,000-seat StubHub Center. The Chargers moved 111 miles north from San Diego into a stadium built for soccer, but providing an undeniably intimate NFL experience for fans.
The LA Chargers’ first touchdown was a San Diego classic: Rivers threw over the middle to Gates for a 5-yard score, making the next big play in the veteran stars’ 12-year partnership.
The Chargers’ revamped defense clearly has work to do under new coordinator Gus Bradley after giving up 459 yards to the Seahawks, whose reserves mostly got off to a stellar start.
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to a field goal in his only drive with Seattle’s first-team offense despite consistent pressure from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers’ dynamic pass-rushing duo.
The rest of Seattle’s 34-point first half was a showcase for its backup defense, which forced three turnovers, and a solid second-team offense led by Trevone Boykin, who passed for 189 yards.
Terence Garvin returned a tipped interception 37 yards for a Seattle TD, and Chris Carson cashed in a 1-yard TD run after LA’s Kellen Clemens fumbled a handoff with Andre Williams.
Clemens threw a 74-yard TD strike to speedy Travis Benjamin, but Rivers’ backup also had two interceptions on deflected passes.
A year after the Los Angeles Rams drew 89,140 to the Coliseum for their homecoming preseason game at the cavernous Coliseum, the Chargers had 21,054 in their tidy new home.
But StubHub Center appears to fulfill the Chargers’ promise to provide a unique place to watch football. The smallest stadium in the NFL has exceptional sight lines and remarkable closeness to the field — and the Chargers Cannon is really loud when the home team scores.
“From a player’s perspective, you want to have that home-field advantage type of feel,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers Hall of Famer and a special assistant to owner Dean Spanos. “The kind of Seattle feeling that they have, the 12th Man, trying to feel something similar for this place, I think it would be a success for everyone if that could happen.”
Pro Bowl defensive lineman Michael Bennett remained seated on the Seahawks’ bench with a towel on his head during the national anthem.
Chargers: Linebacker Denzel Perryman left the field on a cart after Los Angeles’ first defensive series with a left ankle injury. The Chargers were crushed by injuries in each of the past two seasons, and Perryman is expected to call the plays as their starting middle linebacker this fall. He returned to the sideline in the second half on crutches with his foot in a walking boot.
Seahawks: Safety Jordan Simone hurt his left knee on a kickoff return. Receiver Paul Richardson injured his shoulder.
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