Charger Notebook : For Saunders, 1 Win Doesn’t Make Season

Times Staff Writer

Players were jumping around as if they had won the Super Bowl.

The Chargers had just upset the Seattle Seahawks, 17-6, Sunday at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, they have 13 more games, starting with the Chiefs Sunday at Kansas City.

The old sports chestnut warns teams and athletes to keep their highs low and their lows high.


Golfer Paul Azinger scored a hole-in-one while leading in the recent PGA Championship. He whooped and yelled and high-fived. He also double-bogeyed the next hole and lost the tournament to quiet Jeff Sluman.

One of Charger Coach Al Saunders’ challenges this week will be to bring his team back to earth.

“We certainly don’t look at this game (Seattle) as the finest hour by any means,” Saunders said Monday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Look for the Chargers to play more 4-3 defense in the near future despite defensive coordinator Ron Lynn’s preference for a 3-4.


With outside linebackers Chip Banks (holdout) and Billy Ray Smith (calf injury) out indefinitely, the 4-3 is more effective. “We’re trying to maximize our available personnel,” Lynn said.

Meanwhile, the Chargers intercepted 4 passes against Seattle despite playing more man-to-man coverage than usual. The conventional NFL wisdom is that interceptions are more likely to be forced by zone defenses.

The hardest call to figure in the Chargers’ victory was the pass play they tried to execute on second and goal from the Seahawk 3 late in the third quarter. The Chargers led, 10-3, at the time and had run the ball successfully on the drive.

It was especially hard to figure when the Seahawks sacked Babe Laufenberg for a 15-yard loss. Two plays later, Vince Abbott missed his first field goal of the season, a 30-yarder.


“We thought it was a safe call,” offensive coordinator Jerry Rhome said. “But 2 or 3 guys got messed up on who to block.”

After three weeks:

--The Chargers have converted more fourth-down situations (3) than any other AFC team.

--The Chargers have the best first-down balance (18 runs and 17 passes) of any team in the AFC.


--The Chargers and the Eagles are the only teams in the league that haven’t lost a fumble.

--Laufenberg has the lowest quarterback rating (50.1) among current NFL starters, through Sunday’s games.

The preliminary Charger injury report from the Seattle game:

Wide receiver Quinn Early (thigh contusion), defensive lineman Tyrone Keys (knee), free safety Vencie Glenn (ankle) and linebacker Gary Plummer (concussion) are all probable.


“They’ll probably all practice either Wednesday or Thursday at the latest,” Saunders said.

Defensive lineman Les Miller re-injured his ankle and is questionable. Smith (calf) and tackle Gary Kowalski (neck) are doubtful.

Charger Notes

The Chargers were double-covering Steve Largent when he caught the pass that broke Charlie Joiner’s all-time NFL receiving yardage record Sunday. . . . The starting time for the Chargers’ Oct. 16 game at Miami has been changed from 10 a.m. San Diego time to 1 p.m.