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Chiefs Count Their Blessings After Game

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bill Cowher, defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, sat in an interview room after the Chiefs’ 14-13 victory over the Chargers, raving about Rob Bernstine, Marion Butts, the Charger defense and . . .

Nothing.

All of a sudden, Cowher was silent. And he stayed that way for about two minutes.

Over in a corner, a cable TV station was showing highlights of Sunday’s game. Cowher watched. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. The look on his face told the story.

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What Cowher had been feeling all along was being confirmed--the Chiefs were fortunate to step off the San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium turf with a victory.

Most other Chiefs, including the chief, Coach Marty Schottenheimer, felt similarly.

The Chargers lost, but also won respect . . . at least from the Chiefs.

Listen in.

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Schottenheimer: “This is a good football team. And it’s a well-coached football team, despite their record. They have people like (Ronnie) Harmon, who is really a great player, and obviously Bernstine and Butts and their people up front are good at what they do. And they’ve got great people on defense who know what they’re doing. They miss a short field goal at the end of the half or you’re looking at a different story.”

Quarterback Steve DeBerg: “They’ve got a tough team. They run the ball very effectively, and they’ve got a good, solid defense. I’m just really surprised that team has the record (0-5) it has. The record is not in proportion to the talent on that team. I understand that they’re struggling with the quarterback spot. And when that levels itself out, they’ll be one of the better teams in the league.”

And then there was defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua.

“Their defense might have been ranked 28th,” he said, “but those statistics are only for the coaches and the fans. Yeah, they were 28th-ranked, but hell, they were holding our running game pretty good.”

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Even Stephone Paige, who once had 309 receiving yards in one game against the Chargers, was somewhat impressed.

“That’s a good football team,” he said. “But I now see the one thing that has been stopping them. They can’t seem to come up with touchdowns. That’s they’re only problem. It’s just a matter of time before they get that corrected. It’s just a matter of time before that football team explodes.”

Paige didn’t mean that literally, but the Chargers did come unglued again near the end of a game. And it cost them.

With the ball at their 28-yard line, needing only a field goal with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left, the Chargers, who were getting 4.4 yards per rush out of Bernstine and Butts, turned to the pass on first down for the first time since their second series of the game.

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Three overthrows later--two incompletions and a nifty grab by Harmon for a nine-yard gain--Kansas City stopped Bernstine and the Chargers on fourth-and-inches, and then ran out the clock for their third consecutive victory over the Chargers.

“They took a shot for Anthony (Miller) up the field,” Schottenheimer said. “I’m not sure if that’s what (Charger Coach) Dan (Henning) wanted because I happened to glance across the field, and he seemed a little upset with that particular throw. But there was nothing wrong with their play selection at all.”

Other Chiefs weren’t so sure.

“You’ve got to go with what’s working for you,” Hackett said. “They run the ball very well. They’ve run the ball against every team they’ve played so far.”

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Said Saleaumua: “The run was working for them. They were killing us with it all day. Why they came out passing, I’ll never know. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


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