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Chargers Get Some Breaks, Still Crumble

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

When your 12th man is the instant replay official and their 12th man is the crowd, your team should win.

Sure, the people at the Kingdome are considered the noisiest in the league. But apparently that didn’t faze Grover Klemmer Sunday.

Klemmer is the NFL replay official who cost Seattle a touchdown and made it extremely difficult for them to score the two they got in the Seahawks’ 17-14 victory over the Chargers.

“I’m tickled to death to win,” Seattle Coach Chuck Knox said.

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The Chargers failed to see the humor. “I feel terrible,” Charger center Dan Rosado said. “I don’t ever want to feel this way again.”

Klemmer struck first 13 minutes into the game when Seahawk quarterback Kelly Stouffer passed to wide receiver Louis Clark in the right corner of the end zone for what appeared to be an 11-yard touchdown. Klemmer said Clark didn’t have possession. The Seahawks had to settle for a 26-yard Norm Johnson field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Klemmer failed to rescue the on-field officials in the 2nd period when the replay showed Stouffer’s 23-yard strike to wide receiver Brian Blades looked suspiciously like a touchdown. This time Stouffer shrugged Klemmer off and hit Blades one play later.

Blades beat cornerback Sam Seale who was replacing the injured Elvis Patterson. The Seahawks picked on Seale all afternoon. Patterson’s nickname is “Toast” because he gets burned.

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Finally there was the Klemmer reversal of a 40-yard Stouffer-to-Blades pass midway through the final period after the Chargers closed to 10-7 on the first of Mark Malone’s 2 4th-quarter touchdown passes to rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller.

This ruling stripped the Seahawks of a first down at the Charger 8. Many in the crowd of 59,641 stood and directed obscene gestures towards the replay booth.

Not to worry. Seven plays later, Stouffer dumped the ball off to John L. Williams in the right flat for a 6-yard touchdown.

Stouffer, the 2nd straight rookie quarterback to start against the Chargers in 2 weeks, finished with 14 completions in 28 attempts for 121 yards. He is 3-2 as a starter since replacing Dave Krieg, the quarterback the Chargers forced onto injured reserve when Lee Williams separated Krieg’s shoulder in their 17-6 victory over Seattle Sept. 18.

John L. Williams led all rushers and receivers with 73 yards in 15 carries and 34 yards in 6 catches. Malone completed 20 of 32 passes for 169 yards. Seldom-used Tim Spencer was the Chargers’ leading runner with 69 yards in 8 carries.

But in the end, it came down to this: The Chargers, a team that needs all the help it can get, got it from Klemmer. It wasn’t enough.

The Chargers lost their 5th straight game on a day in which their defense allowed its fewest yards (235) of the season.

The Chargers lost their 7th straight in the Kingdome on a day in which their offense outgained Seattle’s by 64 yards.

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The Chargers (2-7) dropped 3 full games behind the AFC West first-place Seahawks (5-4) on a day in which they forced 7 punts.

“I don’t know what the problem area is,” defensive tackle Joe Phillips said.

Try 4 fumbles and 7 penalties.

“Whatever it is, we’re finding a way to make mistakes,” Malone said.

Nobody’s perfect. Least of all Grover Klemmer.


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