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A Rave Review for Martin

September 29, 1997|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — "Touchdown" Tony Martin is back.

The Pro Bowl receiver, glaringly absent as San Diego stumbled through the first quarter of the season, caught touchdown passes of 36, 72 and 38 yards from Stan Humphries as the Chargers defeated Baltimore, 21-17, Sunday in a game that at times bordered on slapstick.

"I feel real good, man," said Martin, who exploited one-on-one coverage for his big plays. "Not for the three touchdowns, just for the victory. It just feels good to win. I almost kind of forgot how that felt."

The Chargers (2-3) had lost their previous two games. The Ravens (3-2) had won two in a row on the road after going 0-8 in away games last year.

The Ravens got to the San Diego 24 with two minutes left, but two penalties pushed them back to the 39, and Dwayne Harper intercepted Vinny Testaverde on fourth down with 1:40 to go.

Martin has been saying for weeks that he has had no problem grasping Coach Kevin Gilbride's new offense. But he had only 11 catches for 163 yards and no touchdowns in the first four games. Last year he had 14 touchdowns among his 85 receptions, tying for the NFL lead and matching Hall of Famer Lance Alworth's team record.

On Sunday, Martin had four catches for 155 yards. Humphries completed 17 of 26 passes for a career-high 358 yards, with two interceptions.

"They left the middle open a lot," Martin said. "We were doing a lot of play faking to get their safeties to bite up and that enabled me to get behind the safeties."

Martin, who had gone seven games without a touchdown catch, scored his 72-yarder by getting open and catching a Humphries pass at the Baltimore 30.

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