Another road game, another painful loss for the San Diego Chargers.
It was flashes of week one in Kansas City at Qwest Field in Seattle on Sunday, as the Chargers failed to convert a game-tying touchdown with time expiring for the second time in three weeks.
With the absences of pro-bowlers Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil consuming the majority of the headlines, the non-existence of Kassim Osgood on special teams—now playing in Jacksonville—is another integral piece the Chargers seem to be missing.
Leon Washington made up for a slew of Seattle mistakes and missed chances, returning two second-half kickoffs for touchdowns of 101 and 99 yards.
With the Chargers fortunate to be trailing just 10-0 at halftime due in large part to their defense, Washington took the opening kickoff of the second half for a team-record 101 yards to give Seattle a 17-0 lead
Rivers led the charge as San Diego came storming back to tie the game at 20 on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, followed by a 2-point conversion to Legedu Naaneee with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Fifteen seconds later, Seattle (2-1) was back in front as Washington got lost in a pile and sprung free for the eventual game-winning 99-yard kickoff return.
On a day the Chargers piled up 518 yards of offense and Philip Rivers threw for 454 yards on 29-53 attempts and two touchdowns, it took two last stands by the Seattle defense in the final two and a half minutes to secure the win.
San Diego drove to the Seattle 14 before the noise of the "12th man" crowd caused a pair of false starts to back up Rivers. On fourth-and-15 at the Seattle 19, his pass for Gates at the goal line was knocked away by Roy Lewis.
Rivers got one more chance after San Diego's defense held.
Starting at his own 45 yard line, Rivers completed passes of 16 yards to Buster Davis and 25 yards to Malcom Floyd to put the Chargers at the Seattle 24. Rivers final chance thrown to the goal line was intercepted by rookie safety Earl Thomas for his second interception of the afternoon with six seconds left
Ball security and turnovers were again the theme for San Diego on Sunday.
Phillip Rivers had two interceptions while Legedu Naanee, Mike Tolbert, and Darren Sproles each fumbled once.
The Chargers now have nine turnovers in the first three games.
The Seahawks endured a bizarre first half in which they took a 10-0 lead, but blew three golden scoring opportunities at the goal line in the second quarter.
Hasselbeck threw a deep shot to Mike Williams that got picked off by Quinton Jammer at the early in the quarter.
On the Seahawks' next possession, Deion Branch pulled in a pass from Hasselbeck and was headed to the end zone when safety Paul Oliver showed some extra effort, knocking the ball loose from behind at the 1-yard line.
The ball wound up rolling through the end zone for a touchback. While Seattle did convert with an actual touchdown moments later on a nine-yard Hasselbeck pass to John Carlson with 53 seconds left in the half, the craziness wasn't done.
Kam Chancellor forced a Darren Sproles fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Seattle had a gift-wrapped opportunity to add another score, but instead allowed the first half clock to expire in some last-second confusion.
In the first half of week one's loss to Kansas City, the Chargers had the option to run the clock out but opted to unsuccessfully covert through the air, resulting in a quick three-and-out while leaving two minutes on the clock for the Chiefs.
Although Dexter McCluster kept the Chiefs' two-minute drill on the sidelines with a punt return touchdown, the Chargers again had a quick three-and-out before halftime—a 13-second drive that left 1:15 on the clock for Seattle.
Trailing 27-20 on fourth-and-15 with 2:34 remaining, head coach Norv Turner made the right call in going for the first-down rather than kick a field goal.
A Nate Kaeding three-point try would have put the Chargers within just four points and still needing to go for the end zone on the ensuing drive, but with likely a greater length of the field to cover with minimal time remaining.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 19-of-32 passes for 220 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Seattle.
Antonio Gates had seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers played a good portion of the game without star linebacker Shawne Merriman. He suffered a calf injury in the first quarter.
San Diego also played without rookie running back Ryan Mathews due to a high ankle sprain.
The same week left tackle Marcus McNeill finally signs his one-year tender contract, starting right guard Louis Vasquez was carted off the field in the first quarter with a knee injury.
The Chargers had won 16 straight against games west coast opponents (Arizona, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle).
In all three years under Norv Turner, the Chargers have started 2-3. They are currently 1-2 and tied with Denver and Oakland in the AFC West.
Kansas City improved to 3-0 with a 31-10 victory against San Francisco.
The Chargers return to Qualcomm Stadium next Sunday to host the Arizona Cardinals at 1:15 p.m.