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CHARGER REVIEW: NOTEBOOK / T.J. SIMERS : It’ll Be Tough to Have a Fantastic Finish

Coach Dan Henning was asked if he would like to play the Jets 16 times next season.

“No,” he said after a lengthy pause. “No, I don’t want to play them again. If you could give me the next three games to play, I’d like to play Kent State . . .”

The Chargers, however, will meet the Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders.

“Last year when we played these three games at the end of the year we won them,” Henning said. “But the Raiders are better, the Chiefs are better and Denver’s struggling. It was kind of the opposite way around last year.”

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Jets’ defensive end Marvin Washington’s assessment of Marion Butts: “He’s not that good.”

After being burned by Willie Gault in last season’s opener against the Raiders, cornerback Sam Seale has been one of the Chargers’ steadiest defenders. The opposition has sought to test him, and on a weekly basis he has prevailed.

However, the Jets went after the 5-foot-9 cornerback Sunday with the 6-foot-4 Al Toon. And it was Harold Carmichael and R.C. Owens revisited.

“We call it a ‘Sky Route,’ ” Toon said, after catching a pair of alley-oop touchdown passes of 21 and eight yards. “Ken (O’Brien) threw perfect balls on both of them. I’m a little taller than he (Seale) is, and that helped.”

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Seale, as is his reputation, made no excuses.

“He had a good day today,” Seale said. “The heighth thing came into play, and it was just timing and I didn’t make the play.”

Although he needs a telephone book to sit on when he eats his meals, Seale prides himself on being a fine basketball player. But after being taken by Toon . . .

“Nobody said he was a center, now,” safety Vencie Glenn said. “You bring Al Toon up to the top of the key with Sammie, and he’s through.”

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Coming into the game, between the Jets’ Pat Leahy and the Chargers’ John Carney, the two kickers had combined to hit 34 of 36 field-goal attempts.

Carney was good from 22 yards to improve his yearly total to 16 of 17 field-goal attempts, and Leahy was 1-of-2, snapping a streak of 17 field goals in a row without miss with a wide right effort from 36 yards. Including his 38-yard successful attempt, Leahy is now 20 of 22 this season.

Although the Chargers had a 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter, the Jets were parked at the San Diego eight-yard line with more than four minutes to play.

But on second and seven, O’Brien tried to force a throw to rookie wide receiver Rob Moore who was being hounded by Chargers’ cornerback Donald Frank. The ball bounced off Moore and Frank and into the hands of Chargers’ safety Martin Bayless for his first interception of the season.

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Bayless also grabbed his first fumble recovery of the season when Billy Ray Smith forced Chris Dressel to fumble.

“On the interception Frank made the play,” Bayless said. “On that particular coverage I’m a guy who just freelances and I was just standing around picking up garbage. The credit should go to Frank.”

And maybe the credit should go to defensive lineman George Hinkle on Frank’s first-quarter interception. Hinkle was breathing hard on O’Brien and forced the quarterback to throw hurriedly over the middle to Moore. A diving Frank, however, picked off the pass, and set up the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game.

He had Anthony Miller running free deep and threw the ball a zip code beyond the streaking receiver. The fans booed.

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Later, he tossed a ball into the band when a wide open Miller was parked in the end zone. And the fans booed.

“I understand the frustration when I don’t get the ball to an open man,” quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver said. “But they’re up in the stands and can see the whole field. They have a better view of things than I do. Plus, they don’t have a pass rush in their face.”

Tolliver held his ground and threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Miller in the third quarter, and a 19-yard touchdown to Nate Lewis in the fourth quarter.

“Four years down the road from now, I got to say I throw about five touchdowns today,” Tolliver said. “I should have had one to Anthony in the first quarter, but I just threw it too hard.

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“I think every time you go out there you learn something. I run the offense the best I can. There’s more factors in there than just dropping back and hitting a guy in the chest.

“Hell, half the balls I throw you don’t even see the receiver. You just believe he’s going to be there. I threw Nate a firm eight route today and I threw it in the spot I thought it had to be because I couldn’t see him, which was low. I never saw him the whole route, I threw it, and he tried to go get it.”

Gerald Nichols of the Jets was thrown out of Sunday’s game on the last play of the first half after he kicked Charger linebacker Cedric Figaro on a kickoff.

Nichols fielded the ball on the bounce and knelt down to kill the clock. Figaro said a Jet blocker knocked into him, he lost his balance and fell on Nichols. Nichols got up and gave him a boot and then the referees gave Nichols the boot.

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“Since he was on one knee he thought I was taking a cheap shot, so he just stood up and kicked me,” Figaro said. “It was uncalled for.”

Figaro agreed with the referees’ decision to eject Nichols.

“If he hadn’t been kicked out, it would have been a battle between he and I all day,” he said.


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