In Schottenheimer's debut, Turner leaves charged up

Ex-Redskins coach helps coordinate San Diego's 30-3 rout of Washington

NFL Week 1

September 10, 2001|By Glae Thien | Glae Thien,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SAN DIEGO - The Marty Schottenheimer era in Washington began with a defeat partly at the hands of a former Redskins coach.

Norv Turner, in his first game as San Diego offensive coordinator, helped the Chargers prevail, 30-3, and spoil the debut of Schottenheimer at the Redskins' helm after two years away from the NFL sidelines.

"Even though it's a win for everybody in this locker room, it's huge for Norv," San Diego general manager John Butler said. "He went about his work and did it like a true pro."

Even before the Chargers' offense got going, the Redskins were sent reeling by an 84-yard punt return by Tim Dwight after Washington went three-and-out on its first possession.

Things didn't get much better in the first half, which ended with the Redskins down 20-0 to a team that finished an NFL-worst 1-15 last season. Quarterback Jeff George directed the Redskins to just 81 yards and tossed two interceptions in the half, leading to his departure in favor of Tony Banks with 5:53 left in the third quarter.

"I made a judgment to give us an opportunity to challenge to win a football game," Schottenheimer said of the quarterback switch. "I will do that every time - every time - because that's what this business is about, winning football games."

George was 8-for-18 for 66 yards passing, coming off a preseason in which he missed two games because of a sore throwing shoulder. Banks added 53 yards passing with a 7-for-14 showing.

In addition, the Redskins had seven fumbles. About the only bright spot was that they lost only two of them.

The Redskins' scoring drive was hardly a drive at all. It consisted of minus-6 yards on four plays, after a fumble recovery by Sam Shade at the San Diego 29. Brett Conway kicked a 40-yard field goal to trim the Chargers' advantage to 20-3 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

Turner liked to depend on the running game during his seven campaigns in Washington, which ended when he was fired with three games left last season. That helps explain how Stephen Davis led the NFL with 28 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons.

In Davis' role for the Chargers was rookie LaDainian Tomlinson, the former Texas Christian standout selected with the fifth overall pick in this spring's NFL draft. Tomlinson rushed for 113 yards on 36 carries, including two short touchdown runs.

Davis was limited to 35 yards on 14 rushes, and the Redskins finished with 161 yards of total offense. The Chargers compiled 255.

Dwight's touchdown return represented an immediate payoff for the Chargers in obtaining him from Atlanta as part of the deal that sent the No. 1 pick in the draft - and thus the rights to quarterback Michael Vick - to the Falcons.

"The worst thing in the world that you can do is go into some arena on the road and let happen what happened to us on the initial punt return," Schottenheimer said. "That's because all of a sudden, it set a tone. Everything we did after that was uphill."

The game marked the Chargers debut of quarterback Doug Flutie, who migrated west after his release from the Buffalo Bills. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions.

The Chargers took a 10-0 lead on a 21-yard field goal by Wade Richey with 3:47 left in the first quarter to complete their second offensive series. San Diego next converted on a six-play, 45-yard march, capped by a 3-yard run by Tomlinson.

The Redskins advanced into San Diego territory for the first time, reaching the 46, only to see Alex Molden come up with an interception while falling into the end zone on coverage against Michael Westbrook with 6:01 left before halftime.

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