Gridiron Gab Week Three Preview: San Diego at Seattle

After coming out with guns blazing in a 31-6 Week One upset victory at home against San Francisco, Seattle’s role reversed last week as it faced the Denver Broncos’ firing squad in a 31-14 loss in the Mile High City.

“We didn’t take our game on the road,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll at his Wednesday press conference from the team’s Renton, Wash. facilities.

Despite the loss, Seattle (1-1) sits tied atop the NFC West standings and will look to break free from its first-place deadlock with Arizona when the Seahawks play host Sunday to the San Diego Chargers (1-1).

“This is a huge week for us, a week to get back on track,” said Carroll.

Should Seattle get back on track, it will mean the team was able to silence a San Diego squad loaded with talent that had its way last week against Jacksonville.

Cornerback Antoine Cason was the linchpin. Of the Jaguars’ first four possessions, Cason personally saw to it that three of them ended abruptly. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Cason forced a fumble and intercepted two passes from Jacksonville’s David Garrard.

Following Cason’s lead, San Diego added three additional turnovers over the span of Jacksonville’s next four possessions. The six forced turnovers were the Chargers’ best single-game total since a December 16, 2007 matchup against the Detroit Lions and was one that’s been topped only five other times in the team’s history.

“They were on fire last week,” said Carroll of San Diego’s defensive play in the Chargers’ 38-13 triumph over the Jaguars. “The ball was getting tipped; they knocked it out, force fumbles. They did everything.”

The Chargers’ defense isn’t the only thing the Seahawks will have to worry about.

Despite not having wide receiver Vincent Jackson because of a combination of a suspension and a holdout, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers hasn’t missed a step.

“He’s a natural football player,” said Seattle’s Carroll. “He’s an incredible passer. He’s always shown that.”

Rivers’ penchant is for the big play to All-Pro Antonio Gates, but if he can’t find his tight end, the seven-year veteran still can lead a lethal attack.

“They’ve got a real style about them,” said Carroll. “We have to make adjustments to it or they’ll tear you up.”

“The thing that they’re so good at is they stretch the field and they look for their opportunities and if they’re not there they dump the ball down so well with a lot of spacing for their check downs.”

Limiting the Chargers’ offense will be a little more difficult than it otherwise would have been for Seattle with the news that linebacker Leroy Hill will miss the game due to an Achilles injury.

Facing a high-octane offense that can score in bunches; Seattle will need its own to perform at a high level. The onus will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Seahawks’ starting quarterback. With four interceptions and a quarterback rating of 74.1 after the team’s first two contests, Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t done much to put his team in a consistent position to win ballgames.

One offensive player that has, though, and is someone that Hasselbeck will look to get the ball to Sunday is second-year wideout Deon Butler.

“We looked at him on film last year, we thought, ‘Boy it’s going to be a long ways to get him to be a factor for us,’” said Seattle’s head coach. “We just didn’t really know what we had.”

After hauling in a touchdown against San Francisco to start the season, the 5-foot-10 Penn State product made an even bigger splash in Denver, sharing the team-high in catches with five.

While Carroll was quick to mention the receiver’s route running as a strength, it was something God-given that got the first-year Seahawks coach buzzing.

“Love the fact that he’s so fast.”

Kickoff is set for 4:15 p.m. Eastern Sunday at Qwest Field.

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