CHARGER NOTEBOOK / DON PATTERSON : Seau Gets a Complete Game, but Not a Victory

The Chargers lost, but at least linebacker Junior Seau made it through the game.

Last week, Seau was booted from the exhibition loss to the Raiders after only two plays for fighting with an opposing lineman. This time, in the Chargers' 17-14 loss Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium, he played a full game, making four tackles and assisting on three others.

Seau, the Chargers' top draft pick who missed most of training camp because of a contract holdout, entered on the sixth play and made his first tackle on the Cowboys' second possession, holding fullback Darly Johnston to one yard.

If playing an entire game was a thrill for Seau, it wasn't apparent from his postgame comments.

"There's no 'I' in we," he said. "You've got to play together as a team. And we lost. A loss is a loss, and I can't be overjoyed by that."

Seau got in trouble with the officials only once when he was whistled for a late hit on wide receiver Kelvin Martin. The penalty moved the ball from the Charger 23 to the 12 and helped the Cowboys continue a drive that resulted in a Ken Willis field goal.

"Except for the penalty, I think he played pretty good," Charger Coach Dan Henning said. "He was overanxious and hyper and did some things that weren't completely right, but he plays with a lot of energy, and he plays an aggressive game."

The revamped special teams unit was improved, though there were mistakes that brought back memories of last season.

Kicker Fuad Reveiz, the former Miami Dolphin kicker who earned a roster spot after being signed as a free agent in March, missed a 31-yard field goal that would have given the Chargers a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

"It's an embarrassing kick to miss," he said. "It happened. You just have to go on from there and not let it get you down the rest of the season. I've been hitting the ball really well in practice. I just mis-hit it."

Other special teams' miscues included wide receiver Nate Lewis' fumble after a 26-yard kickoff return. The big one, of course, was the fake punt in the fourth quarter that failed because of a missed blocking assignment and lead to the Cowboys' winning touchdown.

On the bright side, the Chargers had good field position throughout the game, and running back Jerry Mays, the punt returner, flashed several nifty moves.

With a wry grin on his face, Cowboy owner Jerry Jones spoke afterward of the joy of winning, which he hasn't been able to do for quite some time.

"It's important that we matched last year's record," said Jones, whose Cowboys were 1-15 last season. "I'm just really thrilled for our players."

Troy Aikman, the Cowboys' multimillion-dollar quarterback who was the subject of much criticism during his rookie season in 1989, finished with 13 completions in 29 attempts for 193 yards. He was far from great--on one play, he killed a Cowboy drive by throwing a rainbow into the hands of linebacker Billy Ray Smith in the end zone--but the victory was welcome.

"From a personal standpoint, it feels good to finally be able to get that monkey off my back and win one," Aikman said. "I don't have to listen to people say I can't win a ball game."

Aikman didn't play in the Cowboys' lone victory last season because he was injured. Steve Walsh, also a rookie last year, quarterbacked the Cowboys past Washington, 13-3, on Nov. 5.

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