Chargers win West,may lose QB Seahawks beaten, 31-14, but Humphries is hurt

December 28, 1992|By T. J. Simers | T. J. Simers,Los Angeles Times

SEATTLE -- The San Diego Chargers completed their NF record-breaking climb from an 0-4 start to win an AFC West Division championship yesterday, but lost quarterback Stan Humphries, the catalyst in their rise from a last-place finish in 1991.

Backup quarterback Bob Gagliano, who had not thrown a pass since Week 3, relieved Humphries and ignited a fourth-quarter 18-point outburst to give the Chargers a 31-14 victory over the Seattle Seahawks (2-14) before 49,324 at the Kingdome.

"The key thing is we hung on and looked adversity in the eye," said Chargers coach Bobby Ross. "I think it's very fitting that we won in this fashion because of the problems we have faced all season long."

The Chargers (11-5), who have won 11 of their past 12 games and seven in a row, claimed the AFC West Division crown for the first time since 1981. In NFL history, 132 teams have opened the season 0-4, but the Chargers are the only one to advance to the playoffs.

The Chargers, however, might have to play without Humphries. Humphries dislocated his left shoulder in the closing minutes of the first half after he tried to stiff-arm Seattle linebacker Rufus Porter.

The team's medical staff popped his shoulder back into place on the field, but he was unable to return. X-rays later were negative.

"I'm hopeful that he can play next week," said Chargers trainer Keoki Kamau. "It depends on Stan. How much pain can he tolerate? How much swelling will there be? If it was his throwing arm, he'd be out, but it's not."

The Chargers will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The Chargers appeared shaken after losing Humphries, but the Seahawks failed to take advantage.

"You look at the score of this game and it looks like it was a lopsided game, but they kicked us around," said Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard. "But the thing that this team has done, and more than once this year, is persevere and come back. They weren't going to lose and just settle for making the playoffs. They were going to win the championship."

The Chargers had trailed Seattle 7-6 when Gagliano came on in place of Humphries. Gagliano, who has taken only four or five snaps each day in practice, had completed 10 of 27 passes for 133 yards with three interceptions.

Gagliano gained the confidence of his teammates, who had come to embrace Humphries' leadership in recent weeks, by taking them 80 yards in 10 plays to open the third quarter.

Running back Marion Butts ran the final seven yards for the Chargers' first touchdown and a 14-13 lead.

"That drive was vital; we needed to come out of the locker room in a positive mode and get some points," Gagliano said.

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