Im­por­tant West Coast clash as Bolts visit Sea­hawks

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Nfl Week 9 - BY TIM BOOTH

Games in the sec­ond week of the pre­sea­son are mostly mean­ing­less and usu­ally a for­get­table ex­er­cise for vet­er­ans.

Seat­tle line­backer Bobby Wag­ner hasn’t for­got­ten what hap­pened in Au­gust when the Sea­hawks were fac­ing the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

It was late in the first quar­ter when Charg­ers quar­ter­back Philip Rivers de­cided to take a time­out be­cause he didn’t like the play against Seat­tle’s de­fen­sive align­ment. But the part that Wag­ner re­mem­bers: Rivers knew the ex­act name of Seat­tle’s de­fen­sive call.

“He called time­out and was like, ‘Dang, they’re run­ning strong some­thing,’ and I’m like we just changed the name yes­ter­day, how’d you do that?” Wag­ner re­called. “Maybe he just luck­ily chose that, I don’t know. It was kind of funny, I’m like how did he know the name? The quar­ter­backs know the play, they never know the name of the play.”

Know­ing the play didn’t re­ally mat­ter back in Au­gust, but it will Sun­day when the surg­ing Charg­ers face the equally im­prov­ing Sea­hawks. Los An­ge­les (5-2) has won four straight and is com­ing off a bye week fol­low­ing its 20-19 win over Ten­nessee in Lon­don. The Sea­hawks (4-3) have won four of five – in­clud­ing a vic­tory in Lon­don – and the game against the Charg­ers starts a stretch with six of the fi­nal nine games at home for Seat­tle.

And Rivers is the in­tro­duc­tion to a chal­leng­ing month of elite quar­ter­backs the Sea­hawks will face and chal­lenge Seat­tle’s over­hauled de­fense that has climbed its way back to be­ing among the best in the NFL halfway through the sea­son. Af­ter Rivers, the Sea­hawks will face Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers and Cam New­ton in con­sec­u­tive weeks.

“The big­gest dif­fer­ence is you used to go in – and this is not by any means slight­ing the ros­ter, the de­fen­sive lineup now – but you used to go into that game, and you could just say, who is on Seat­tle’s de­fense, and you could write out every one right be­cause they had been to­gether for so long, backto-back Su­per Bowls, won the Su­per Bowl against Den­ver,” Rivers said. “Now there’s just been so much change on that de­fense, but there’s still the same scheme, and there’s plenty of names that you can rec­og­nize. So it’s a good group.”

The Charg­ers should get run­ning back Melvin Gor­don back af­ter he missed the win in Lon­don with a ham­string in­jury. Gor­don has com­bined with fel­low run­ning back Austin Ekeler to have 1,283 yards from scrim­mage and the pair is av­er­ag­ing 6.65 yards per touch.

Seat­tle’s run­ning backs are pro­vid­ing and equally im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the Sea­hawks re­cent suc­cess. Chris Car­son has be­come Seat­tle’s pri­mary run­ner and posted his third 100-yard game in last week’s win over Detroit. Begin­ning with Week 3, only the Los An­ge­les Rams have more car­ries or yards rush­ing than the Sea­hawks – and Los An­ge­les has played one more game.

“I think they know what’s work­ing,” Charg­ers coach An­thony Lynn said.

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