After an ugly afternoon of football, the San Diego Chargers sit alone atop the AFC West.
John Carney kicked two field goals in the final 2 minutes 54 seconds, including the game-winning 41-yarder as time expired, and the Chargers beat the Seattle Seahawks, 13-10, today in a showdown between surprising contenders.
The Chargers, under rookie head coach Mike Riley, improved to 4-1 for the first time since 1996. The Seahawks, in their first year under Mike Holmgren, fell to 3-2. San Diego had lost five straight to the Seahawks.
"This was a big win. I can't overemphasize that," said Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who rattled Seattle quarterback Jon Kitna in the first half and threw running back Ricky Watters for a big loss in the second half. "It will carry us a long way.
"To be 4-1, it doesn't happen often in San Diego," Seau added. "These young guys here really need to appreciate this because winning in this league is hard to do."
The Chargers, in their biggest game since the 1995 playoffs, could just as easily have ended up as pretenders, although their defense once again came up big by holding Seattle to just 201 yards.
Erik Kramer threw four interceptions to end the Chargers' first four drives of the second half, but the Seahawks capitalized on just one, setting up the go-ahead, one-yard touchdown pass from Kitna to backup tight end Itula Mili for a 10-7 lead with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
Kramer suddenly turned perfect on the winning drive, completing four straight passes to move the Chargers from their 32-yard line to the Seattle 23, where Natrone Means ran it once to set up Carney's kick.
The Chargers called timeout with three seconds left, then Carney, who had missed badly left on a 42-yard try in the first quarter, had a perfect kick to set off a wild celebration.
Carney kicked a 28-yard field goal with 2:54 left to tie the game at 10. After struggling to find his wide receivers all day, Kramer threw a 41-yard pass to Jeff Graham on the drive's first play.