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Sunday, January 3, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Chargers Roll Over Chiefs -- Seven Sacks In 17-0 Victory

San Bernardino County Sun

SAN DIEGO - Momentum met experience on Saturday.

Score one for the guys on a roll.

The San Diego Chargers, playoff neophytes but the NFL's hottest team, throttled the Kansas City Chiefs 17-0 in an AFC wild-card game played in mud and drizzle before 58,278 at Jack Murphy Stadium.

It was the 11th victory in 12 games for the Chargers (12-5), who play at Miami next Sunday in the AFC semifinals.

San Diego sacked Chiefs' quarterback Dave Krieg seven times in the Chargers' first playoff appearance since 1982.

"When you've got momentum, it takes a lot to get you out of it," said Chargers' defensive end Leslie O'Neal, who had two sacks and an interception.

"Playoff experience doesn't mean anything. Kansas City had experience. But we had momentum."

They also had gutty quarterback Stan Humphries, who passed for 199 yards despite a week-old dislocated left shoulder, and Marion Butts, who ran for 119 yards and a touchdown.

"It was a pretty complete game," said first-year Chargers Coach Bobby Ross, who has overseen a dramatic turnaround from an 0-4 start. "Winning the (AFC West) division title was nice, but we wanted to play well here, too."

The game was scoreless until Butts bolted through an enormous hole over right guard and dashed 54 yards for a touchdown with 5:53 left in the third quarter.

"Obviously, that was the play that broke us," said Chiefs Coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose team made another disappointing exit

from the playoffs after a 10-6 regular season.

"I was waiting for the big play to break the (0-0) tie, but I thought it would be us."

San Diego got another big play moments later. On the first play after the kickoff, Chargers tackle Blaise Winter deflected a Krieg pass and O'Neal intercepted at the Chiefs' 26.

That set up a 34-yard field goal by John Carney to give San Diego a 10-0 lead - and an open invitation to tee off on Krieg.

Defensive end Burt Grossman was credited with 2 1/2 sacks, and tackle Shawn Lee had two more as the Chargers limited the Chiefs to 251 yards and never allowed them past the San Diego 34.

The Chiefs, often criticized this season as a one-dimensional (all run) team, managed only 61 rushing yards against the Chargers' big and active defense.

"We're young, but we're a great team and when we play as a team I don't think anyone can stop us," said linebacker Junior Seau. "This was definitely the best defensive game we've played this year."

Said veteran safety Gill Byrd: "The biggest difference in our defense has been our athleticism. Guys like Junior, Leslie and (safety) Stanley Richard, those guys are monsters.

"Nine times out of 10, when they are one-on-one with somebody, they will win that battle."

San Diego clinched it with 4:57 to play when fullback Steve Hendrickson scored from the 5. The 90-yard TD drive was aided by a chaotic 55-yard pass play from Humphries to Anthony Miller that concluded with a fumble and mad scramble for the ball that the Chargers' Ronnie Harmon won.

Chargers General Manager Bobby Beathard said it was a satisfying victory against a franchise that carried a six-game winning streak against San Diego.

"This was a big game for this team." he said. "Nobody here likes the Chiefs very much. Everybody talks about the Raiders, but I think a lot of people here see the Chiefs as an arrogant group. We wanted to beat them."

Next up, Dan Marino and Don Shula and the even-more-experienced Dolphins.

Said Chiefs' linebacker Derrick Thomas: "If the Chargers play about as well as they did today, they'll beat Miami. I think San Diego has a great shot to go all the way."

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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