SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers made it through his first appearance of the exhibition season without committing a turnover or getting sacked.
It was a small victory even though the San Diego Chargers did lose to the Seattle Seahawks 31-10 Thursday night.
Mike McCoy, who made his head coaching debut, said he’s pleased with how the first-team offense and defense did, even though they were on the field just a short time.
Rivers completed 5 of 6 passes for 45 yards in leading the Chargers on an opening 74-yard drive in 13 plays capped by Nick Novak’s 28-yard field goal.
He even gained 5 yards on a third-and-6, scrambling when he couldn’t find anyone open.
Rather than going for it for a second time on fourth down, McCoy chose to have Novak kick the field goal.
“I would have liked to see him pick up the first down,” McCoy said Friday. “But hey, he’s not getting paid to run the football. So he’s going to try to do the next best thing, and that’s something we’re talking about, whether you throw the ball away, you scramble, step up in the pocket or run, whatever that’s going to be, but he was rather athletic.”
Rivers wasn’t sacked and didn’t throw any interceptions. Last year, he was sacked 49 times and had 22 turnovers, including 15 interceptions, as the Chargers missed the playoffs for the third straight season.
Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was intercepted twice and sacked three times. One of the pickoffs set up Brady Quinn’s 11-yard scoring pass to Jermaine Kearse 2:11 before halftime. San Diego defensive backs Darrell Stuckey and Steve Williams collided, leaving Kearse wide open.
McCoy said Whitehurst “didn’t do a bad job.” The coach said the first interception was a good throw. “It’s just one of those deals where the receiver has to keep coming back to the football.” The second interception came during the two-minute drill, when Whitehurst stepped up in the pocket.
The coach said the pass protection for Whitehurst was “too soft” at times.
San Diego’s only touchdown came on third-string quarterback Brad Sorensen’s 21-yard pass to Ladarius Green in the fourth quarter.
McCoy said he was pleased with the tempo of the calls going in on both offense and defense.
“Let them play. It’s all about tempo, giving the players as much time to think about what the call is and go from there,” McCoy said.
He was also happy with outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who signed as a free agent in May after a stellar career with Indianapolis.
“It was great to see that,” McCoy said. “One of the first pass rushes he had he came off the edge and went through the right tackle there and did a nice job. That’s what he’s done forever. The best coverage on defense is a good pass rush, and he’s going to help our defense a lot.”
Freeney didn’t sack Russell Wilson but had him on the run.
“That’s what it’s about. You know, everybody loves the sack number; that’s great. But sometimes it’s about creating chaos for the quarterback,” Freeney said. “Get him off his spot. Affect the quarterback, whether he has to keep scrambling.”