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THE NFL / 1996

Humphries-to-Martin Combo Propels Chargers Past Raiders

AFC: Quarterback passes for four touchdowns, including three to Martin, in San Diego's 40-34 victory over struggling Oakland.

September 23, 1996|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — Nine plays, three minutes, three touchdowns. A first-quarter scoring binge was all it took for the San Diego Chargers to shake off a week of doubts.

Stan Humphries passed for three touchdowns late in the first quarter as the Chargers (3-1), rebounding from their worst loss in eight years, jumped to an early 21-point lead and defeated the Oakland Raiders, 40-34, Sunday.

Humphries ended up with four scoring passes--three to Tony Martin--as the Chargers responded from a 42-10 loss at Green Bay that was their most lopsided defeat since 1988.

"To come back after the shellacking we got was a very big obstacle that we were able to overcome," Charger linebacker Junior Seau said. "We were facing being .500 early in the year. We didn't want that to happen."

The Raiders (1-3) got three touchdown passes by Jeff Hostetler and two from Billy Joe Hobert in the final 90 seconds, but never recovered from the early deficit fueled by two turnovers.

"This seemed to be a case of digging ourselves a hole we couldn't get out of," Oakland Coach Mike White said. "We're losing that turnover battle, and that usually means we're not going to win the game."

Humphries opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Fletcher with 4:03 left in the first period. Kurt Gouveia intercepted Hostetler's pass on the Raiders' next play, and Humphries passed seven yards to Martin two plays later to make it 14-0.

Tim Brown fumbled on the fourth play of Oakland's ensuing drive, and Humphries completed a 41-yard scoring pass to Martin on the next play. With 58 seconds left in the quarter, it suddenly was 21-0.

Humphries completed 18 of 25 passes for 226 yards. Martin, who began the game leading the AFC with 19 receptions, had 10 catches for 138 yards. He has scored six times this season.

"As solid as I was putting the ball where it needed to be, it was probably my best game since I've been here," Humphries said. "I've got to strive and try to do that every week."

Martin said most of his catches came against zone coverage that gave him a cushion, and wondered why the Raiders didn't try to shadow him more aggressively with man-to-man coverage.

"I was really surprised," he said. "It's fun when you can go out and do whatever you want to do."

John Carney added field goals of 28 and 39 yards for the Chargers, and Willie Clark capped San Diego's scoring with 3:40 left in the game on an 83-yard interception return.

Hostetler, who completed 26 of 44 passes for 293 yards, had touchdown passes of four yards to Derrick Fenner, six yards to Rickey Dudley and six yards to Tim Brown. Hobert added an 11-yard scoring toss to Brown with 1:29 left and a 28-yarder to Kenny Shedd with 12 seconds left after the Raiders recovered an onside kick.

Oakland then tried another onside kick, but San Diego recovered and ran out the clock.

"It was a real big win coming off that loss to Green Bay. We went in there real flat and they gave us an old-fashioned butt whipping," Martin said. "We came out today and showed the character of this team."

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