SAN DIEGO (Aug. 12, 2007) -- Shaun Alexander barely broke a sweat. LaDainian Tomlinson didn't even suit up.
That's what happens when the past two NFL MVPs hook up in a preseason opener.
Alexander's Seattle Seahawks beat Tomlinson's San Diego Chargers 24-16, getting the go-ahead points on a 36-yard field goal from Josh Brown with 7:18 left. Brown had missed a 41-yard attempt, but got a second chance when the Chargers were penalized for having 12 men on the field. Third-stringer Marquis Weeks added a 6-yard scoring run with 1:55 left.
"There was a lot of stuff for a first preseason game," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who went 1-for-2 in challenging officials' calls. "So it will be a good film to watch and it is always more fun to win."
While Alexander touched the ball three times during the game's opening drive -- which Matt Hasselbeck finished with a 31-yard TD pass to Deion Branch -- Tomlinson watched from the sideline, wearing a sweat suit and a cap turned backward. Tomlinson is usually held out of preseason games to avoid the risk of injury. The last time he played in a preseason game was in 2005, when he scored on his only run of the night, a 55-yarder.
At least the weather was perfect, which it wasn't the previous time these teams met in a real game. That was on Christmas Eve, when the Chargers rallied for a 20-17 victory in a steady rain in Seattle.
Tomlinson didn't score in that game, but he did end up with an NFL-record 31 touchdowns en route to winning the league MVP award. He broke by three the TD mark Alexander set the year before, when he was the MVP.
The Chargers, coming off an NFL-best 14-2 record last year, were playing at Qualcomm Stadium for the first time since falling apart in a 24-21 loss to New England in their playoff opener on Jan. 14. The Seahawks lost the same day, falling 27-24 in overtime at Chicago.
The Chargers didn't look particularly sharp in their first game under coach Norv Turner, who replaced the fired Marty Schottenheimer. They were penalized eight times for 45 yards and gave up five sacks, two by defensive end Darryl Tapp. Each team had three turnovers.
"It was a little bit surprising to me, but I thought we were a little bit tentative early in the game," Turner said. "It tells me that we have to get used to each other. There is some newness to what we are doing in all three phases."
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said the sloppiness should get the Chargers' attention.
"We're going in with a lot of expectations, feeling pretty good about who we are," Rivers said. "Not to say we haven't been getting after it hard, we have. But maybe this will say, 'Hey, guys, listen, we need to focus in a little more than maybe we think we were focusing in.' These penalties that essentially cost us the last time we were on this field, clean up some other things and move on."
Alexander and Hasselbeck played only the opening series, when Branch burned San Diego's secondary for a 31-yard scoring catch. Alexander carried twice for 4 yards and dropped a pass.
Guard Rob Sims grabbed a deflected pass and gained 16 yards. San Diego's Drayton Florence had an interception that was called back due to holding on the cornerback.
Hasselbeck had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.
"It was a good start for us," Hasselbeck said. "That is exactly what we were hoping to do."
Rivers played only two series. His backup, Billy Volek, threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd late in the second quarter. Volek was 13-for-18 for 143 yards.
San Diego's Nate Kaeding kicked field goals of 38, 27 and 50 yards.
Seattle backup quarterback Seneca Wallace threw a 17-yard touchdown to Ben Obomanu with 10:45 left. Wallace was 17-for-25 for 191 yards, with one interception.
Seattle tackle Tom Ashworth also caught a deflected pass, in the third quarter, although he lost 2 yards.
"For a while there our linemen were catching more balls than our receivers," Holmgren said.
Darren Sproles, who missed all of last season after breaking his left leg on a punt return in a preseason game exactly a year earlier, had a nice game for the Chargers. He carried seven times for 63 yards and caught four passes for 36 yards.
Chargers rookie safety Eric Weddle continued to look at home at Qualcomm Stadium. He intercepted Wallace early in the second quarter and returned it 16 yards.
While at Utah, Weddle had four interceptions in two games against San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium. He had three last year, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Notes: The Chargers reported the following injuries: Weddle (sprained ankle), LB Jyles Tucker (concussion), LB Marques Harris (shoulder) and CB Steve Gregory (bruised quad).
The Associated Press News Service
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