The Los Angeles Chargers debut at StubHub Center was spoiled by the Seattle Seahawks, who converted three first-half turnovers by backup quarterback Kellen Clemens for 17 points in a 48-17 victory Sunday.
The attendance at the NFL’s smallest stadium was announced at 21,054, nearly 6,000 short of the 27,000 capacity, and less than the announced crowd of 25,667 for the Los Angeles Galaxy-New York City FC Major League Soccer game Saturday at StubHub Center.
Attendance at NFL preseason games are typically lower than the regular season. The Chargers are sold out of season tickets and have a waiting list. A limited number of premium seats remain available.
Despite its small size, Chargers offensive lineman Matt Slauson called the crowd great.
“When the offense was up, it was nice and quiet,” Slauson said. “When the defense was on the field, you could definitely feel energy on big stops.”
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said he “didn’t really notice how small the venue was.”
The loss in the preseason opener for both teams was the Chargers worst in a preseason game since a 41-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers to conclude the 2013 preseason.
“We turned the ball over and put our defense in poor positions early and got behind,” said Anthony Lynn, who made his debut as Chargers coach. “We came out in the second half and they made some plays and we didn’t make plays.”
Lynn said he thought his offensive starters “played pretty good.”
“We ran efficiently,” Lynn said. Quarterback Philip Rivers “passed the ball accurately. (Tight end) Antonio (Gates) made a nice play in the end zone. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Clemens, who entered the game in the first quarter in relief of Rivers, had two passes intercepted and botched a handoff. Linebacker Terence Garvin returned the first interception 37 yards for a touchdown with one minute, 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
Clemens threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin on the Chargers first play from scrimmage following the interception.
The Chargers next possession ended with a Clemens pass being intercepted by defensive tackle Tylor Harris at the Chargers 31-yard line. Blair Walsh kicked a 28-yard field goal eight plays later, increasing the Seahawks lead to 20-14.
Clemens botched a handoff on the Chargers first play following the ensuing kickoff. Seattle defensive end Christian French recovered the loose ball at the Chargers 7-yard line and was tackled at the 1-yard line on his return. Chris Carson ran 1 yard for a touchdown on the next play.
The Chargers only points over the final three quarters came on Josh Lambo’s 53-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
In Rivers’ only series as quarterback, the Chargers drove 75 yards on 13 play on the game’s opening possession. Rivers completed five of six passes for 56 yards including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Gates.
The Chargers were outgained 458 yards to 322 and trailed 26-14 in first downs and 36:08-23:52 in time of possession. Five of the Chargers first downs came on the game’s opening drive.
“Next week, I’ll guarantee you we’ll put a better foot forward,” Gates said.
Clemens completed four of 10 passes for 100 yards. Cardale Jones completed two of nine passes for 50 yards. Mike Bercovici completed four of six passes for 68 yards on the Chargers final two possessions.
Trevone Boykin quarterbacked the Seahawks from the first through third quarters, completing 12 of 15 passes for 189 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler in the second quarter, and had one pass intercepted. He also ran 4 yards for a touchdown 29 seconds before halftime.
Austin Davis completed seven of nine passes for 108 yards in the third and fourth quarters. In his only series, Russell Wilson completed three of four passes for 41 yards on Seattle’s first possession, which ended with Walsh’s 42- yard field goal.
The Seahawks led 34-17 at halftime and added two touchdowns in the second half. Carson ran 1 yard for a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Rookie Alex Collins ran 1 yard for a score with 6:26 left.
The Chargers continued some traditions from their 56 seasons in San Diego, paid homage to the team’s inaugural 1960 season, when it played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and introduced two new musical elements.
The Chargers started the game with a blast from the Chargers Cannon, which has been used at every home game since 1961, the team’s first in San Diego. The cannon will be set off by a notable figure for each game. Dick Harris, a defensive back with the Chargers from 1960-65, set off the canon Sunday.
Four flag runners led the players onto the field. Two of the flags had the team’s lighting bolt logo while the other two had the original shield logo, which was unveiled in 1960.
Making their debuts Sunday were the Thunderbolts, a 25-member drumline that played throughout StubHub Center, concourses and various stadium entrances, and the Bolts Bugler, who attempts to encourage fans to shout Chargers throughout the game.
—City News Service
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