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Old Charger Power, Plus Carney's Kicks, Give the Seahawks a Jolt, 29-7

September 02, 1996|BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — It was same old, same old for the San Diego Chargers in their season opener Sunday afternoon.

Same running game, same defense and same John Carney.

If their 29-7 victory over the division-rival Seattle Seahawks is any indication, the Chargers are again trying to sneak an AFC West title while dressed like an NFC East team.

Both boring and brain rattling, the Chargers pushed the Seahawks around the San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium field in 90-degree heat before finally taking advantage of two turnovers to score 10 fourth-quarter points and seal it.

The Seahawks would have kicked themselves, but Carney had already done it for them.

He capped much of the Chargers' modest 387 yards in total offense with five field goals, including a 53-yarder to end the first half. He added a 50-yarder in the third period.

Amazingly, he was one field goal and one yard shy of personal records in either category.

Not so amazingly, Carney acted like he actually had help.

"David Binn and Sean Salisbury did a great job all day," he said at the beginning of his postgame interview, thanking his long snapper and holder.

The Charger attack was as scintillating as their kickers' quotes.

Stan Humphries was 21 for 38 for 195 yards, but threw no interceptions and stepped through a swarming rush on third down to find Tony Martin on a two-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.

No Charger rusher gained more than Aaron Hayden's 59 yards, but the team rushed for 185 yards and Leonard Russell scored his first touchdown in two years on a six-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Then there were the beleaguered Charger receivers. That adjective still fits, as only Martin caught more than three balls.

There is hope that things will change with the emergence of rookie Charlie Jones and inexperienced Andre Coleman, who combined for five catches.

"But when the [Chargers] get the ball," said Seahawk defensive end Cortez Kennedy, "they keep it all day."

As for the Seahawks, they gained only 357 yards in total offense--30 yards fewer than the Chargers--but they lost two fumbles and two interceptions.

"We were real intense today," said Charger linebacker Glen Young. "It doesn't matter who we play, we need to be physical."

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