Seahawks Sink Chargers, 20-14

Charlie Whitehurst overcame three turnovers to lead a frantic rally and Charly Martin exploded for five fourth-quarter receptions, but it was not enough as the San Diego Chargers dropped a 20-14 decision to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in the preseason opener for both teams.

The Chargers kicked off Saturday's contest by featuring a couple players rarely seen in the preseason: RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates. Neither player was very explosive -- LT averaged 2.5 yards on four carries and Gates averaged 6.3 yards on three catches -- but their presence was key for a team dire to avoid a third consecutive slow start to the season.

The first-string offense didn't produce any points, but backup QB Billy Volek authored the game's first scoring drive when the led the Chargers on a five-play, 56-yard march that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Michael Bennett.

QB Philip Rivers
Stephen Dunn/Getty

The Seahawks answered back with 17 unanswered points thanks in large part to the careless play of Charlie Whitehurst. The fourth-year QB turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions (a fumble and two interceptions) resulting in 10 Seattle points.

Whitehurst later redeemed himself by guiding the Chargers on an eight-play, 69-yard scoring drive that included a beautiful 41-yard pass to Buster Davis. Legedu Naanee capped the drive with a 5-yard TD reception to cut the deficit to 20-14.

San Diego almost completed the comeback when Whitehurst narrowly overthrew RB Gartrell Johnson on what would have a 35-yard score with under 40 seconds to play, but the ball fell incomplete and the Chargers turned it over on downs one play later.

Game Notes

  • Undrafted rookie Charly Martin led all receivers with five catches for 67 yards, all of which came in the fourth quarter. He also returned three kicks for 72 yards and posted two tackles in kick coverage.
  • The Seahawks had only one pass-catcher finish with more than 18 yards receiving. That was Ben Obomanu, who caught two balls for 31 yards.
  • When the Chargers went to the second-string offensive line, fourth-round pick Tyronne Green played at left guard and veteran swingman Scott Mruczkowski played center. Green, who played guard at Auburn, was originally penciled in as the backup center, but that plan has since changed. Mruczkowski, who played center at Bowling Green, gives the Chargers a more experienced backup center.
  • Fourth-round pick Vaughn Martin started at right defensive end because Jacques Cesaire (calf) and Ryon Bingham (arm) were both out with injuries. Martin finished with three tackles in his professional debut.
  • Shawne Merriman played in the first quarter and posted one quiet tackle. It marked his first game action since his reconstructive knee surgery.
  • Malcom Floyd made a sensational 37-yard reception on a jump-ball thrown by Volek on the final drive of the first half. The play helped set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Nate Kaeding, which went wide left.
  • Antwan Applewhite grabbed San Diego's only takeaway when he intercepted a pass that had been knocked into the air. Applewhite was active throughout the contest and finished tied for second on the team with four solo tackles. Newcomer Kevin Burnett led the team with six tackles in his first game in lightning bolts.

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