SEATTLE, NOV. 22 -- There haven't been many occasions for the San Diego Chargers to play in a big game in recent years, let alone entering one without quarterback Dan Fouts. Today, the upstart Chargers' eight-game winning streak was snapped and their lead in the AFC West cut to one game by the totally dominant Seattle Seahawks, 34-3.
Fouts, the veteran all-pro who is nursing a strained calf muscle, was on the sideline in the opening half. By the time he entered, with 8:26 remaining in the third quarter, it was far too late for San Diego. Ahead, 24-3, the Seahawks continued easily amassing yards against a touted Chargers' defense that played as poorly as the sievelike units of the late '70s and early '80s.
"I think they have a good defense, very much improved over the last three or so years. It has to be for them to be where they are," said Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg. "But today we were able to hit darn near everyone that we could throw to."
As well as darn near run whenever and wherever they wanted. Most of the Seahawks' 496 yards of total offense could be attributed to Krieg and running back Curt Warner. Krieg completed 19 of 26 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Warner carried 23 times for 119 yards.
By the time the duo's duty was declared done early in the fourth quarter, Seattle had 30 first downs to just four for the Chargers. With Krieg and Warner in the game, the Seahawks never had a possession in which they failed to penetrate the San Diego 40-yard line.
"There's not much you can say, we're a long way from where we want to be," said San Diego Coach Al Saunders. "It was a nice winning streak but now that the game's over we'll think about the future, not the past."
The loss left the Chargers, who had been the last once-beaten team in the NFL, with an 8-2 record while Seattle improved to 7-3. Mark Herrmann, who started in place of Fouts, completed 12 of 19 passes but for only 140 yards. Fouts was two of six for 15 yards and threw an interception that set up Seattle's final points.
There were any number of signs that might have indicated what was in store. Besides Fouts' injury, the Chargers were playing in front of 62,444 zealous Seahawks fans in the Kingdome. There was also San Diego's 1-8 record in the teams' most recent matchups coming in and the fact that in his six previous games against the Chargers, Krieg had passed for 1,630 yards and 17 touchdowns, completing 64 percent.
Saunders couldn't have felt very well either when Gary Anderson fumbled the opening kickoff and Seattle recovered at the Chargers' 24-yard line. Four plays later, the score was 3-0 as Norm Johnson hit a 34-yard field goal.
The Seahawks scored again on the first play of the second quarter, when Krieg hit fullback John L. Williams for a 12-yard touchdown pass. On the day, Williams ran for 61 yards and caught three passes for 31.
San Diego came back and moved from its 20 to the Seattle 15, but had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Vince Abbott. The score only seemed to rouse the Seahawks. They took the subsequent kickoff and moved 73 yards in 10 plays, scoring again on a five-yard run by Warner.
Seattle received the second-half kickoff and scored even more swiftly, moving 78 yards on a five-play drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown scamper by Krieg. On the previous play, the quarterback took off up the middle on a scramble, ran 10 yards, then pitched back to Warner who carried for another 27.
"We had a pass called but no one was open so I just started running," Krieg said. "Then I heard Curt yelling and I figured that he gets paid to do that sort of thing and I don't so I tossed it back to him."
All the frivolity came against a defense that entered the game ranked fourth against the pass and sixth overall in the AFC.
The teams were scheduled to meet in Week 3 of the season but the game in San Diego was eliminated by the NFL players strike. The Chargers went 3-0 during the three-game replacement season, Seattle 2-1, which put more emphasis on today's game for the Seahawks.
"We really were hoping that they'd put the game down there on at the end of the schedule to make it a full 16 games, but they aren't so this was really a double win for us," said center Blair Bush, who anchored the line that allowed the Seattle offense to hold the football for 41 minutes 35 seconds. "It would've been nice to play it, we'd be in better position. Now we still have to count on them to lose to someone, but there's lots of time for us to gain control."
The Chargers also are facing a rising challenge from the Denver Broncos, just a game and a half behind as they head into next Sunday in San Diego. It is by no means certain that Fouts will be able to start then, either.
"I wasn't 100 percent today but I haven't been 100 percent since the third grade," he said. "Am I going to play next week? I hope so."
So do the Chargers.
San Diego 0 3 0 0 3 Seattle 3 14 10 7 34 First Quarter
S -- FG N. Johnson 34, 2:14 Second Quarter
S -- Williams 12 pass from Krieg (N. Johnson kick), :07
SD -- FG Abbott 33, 4:33
S -- Warner 5 run (N. Johnson kick), 8:47 Third Quarter
S -- Krieg 11 run (N. Johnson kick), 2:24
S -- FG N. Johnson 22, 14:54 Fourth Quarter
S -- Largent 5 pass from Krieg (N. Johnson kick), 5:46
A -- 62,444
Chargers Seahawks First downs 6 34 Rushes-yards 12-17 54-277 Passing yards 139 219 Return yards 14 50 Passing 14-25-2 19-28-0 Sacked-yards lost 2-16 2-27 Punts-average 6-43 4-26 Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-1 Penalties-yards 5-35 3-20 Time of possession 18:25
RUSHING -- San Diego: Adams 5-12, Spencer 3-4, Anderson 2-2, Herrmann 2-minus 1. Seattle: Warner 23-119, Wi
PASSING -- San Diego: Herrmann 12-19-1, 140 yards, Fouts 2-6-1, 15. Seattle: Krieg 19-26-0, 246, Kemp 0-2-0
RECEIVING -- San Diego: Anderson 5-42, James 2-42, Redden 2-20, Holland 1-20, Chandler 1-9, Spencer 1-9, Ho
MISSED FIELD GOALS -- Seattle: N. Johnson 48.