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Schottenheimer Is Coach of the Year

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 9, 2005; Page E08

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 8 -- Marty Schottenheimer, who led San Diego to one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history, was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press on Saturday.

Schottenheimer's Chargers (12-5) won the AFC West title, but lost in overtime to the New York Jets, 20-17, in an AFC wild-card game at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday night.

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"There is a great sense of satisfaction when you're able to get things going in the right direction," said Schottenheimer, who received 27 1/2 of the 48 votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters who cover pro football. "I always pride myself on one thing -- I think I'm a teacher. It's fun to see your players listen and work together to apply the basic philosophies and concepts that are important to success."

This is the Chargers' first postseason appearance since 1995, and little was expected of the team after it finished 4-12 in 2003. Schottenheimer, 61, came to San Diego in 2002 after being fired by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder following the 2001 season; he finished with an 8-8 record after Washington won eight of its final 13 games. Schottenheimer is the winningest active coach in the NFL, with 177 victories, and has reached the playoffs for the 12th time in his coaching career, which is tied for the third-most all-time.

San Diego tied its franchise record for wins in 2004 and Schottenheimer became just the fifth coach in league history to lead three franchises to the playoffs. Since becoming a head coach in 1984, Schottenheimer has had two losing seasons.

Holt Huge for Rams

The St. Louis Rams got a 108-yard receiving performance by one of their established wideouts, Torry Holt. But some of the biggest plays in their 27-20 triumph over the Seattle Seahawks were made by their younger wide receivers, second-year pros Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald. Curtis had four catches for 107 yards, and McDonald turned a swing pass by quarterback Marc Bulger into a 31-yard gain on the Rams' fourth-quarter drive to their game-winning touchdown.

"I don't think that we have ever run [that play] in a game, but it came out just like Coach [Mike] Martz drew it up," McDonald said. . . .

Seattle tailback Shaun Alexander managed only 40 rushing yards on 15 carries. He regularly was out of the Seahawks' lineup on short-yardage situations, a week after accusing Coach Mike Holmgren of costing him the NFL rushing title by running a quarterback sneak for the decisive touchdown in a win over Atlanta that secured the NFC West title for Seattle. . . .

The Seahawks' loss probably will intensify speculation that Holmgren, a former 49ers assistant, could leave Seattle to be a candidate for San Francisco's vacant head-coaching job.

Saints Retain Haslett

Jim Haslett has been told by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson that he will return for a sixth season as coach.

Haslett's five-year record of 42-38 is the second best in team history behind Jim Mora Sr.'s 93-78 mark. The Saints, however, have missed the playoffs four straight years. This season, New Orleans started 4-8 but won its final four games to finish 8-8.

Pro Bowl Starters

Peyton Manning will start at quarterback for the AFC, and Donovan McNabb will start for the NFC in next month's Pro Bowl. Baltimore's Ray Lewis will start at linebacker and Chris McAlister at cornerback. Champ Bailey of Denver is the other cornerback. The Ravens' Ed Reed and Denver's John Lynch will start at safety.

Starting lineups, Page E11

Staff writer Mark Maske and news services reports contributed to this report.


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