Ryan Leaf figured out how to get by while he's boning up on the NFL quarterbacking business. Don't cough up the ball and mess things up for Junior Seau and his defensive crew.
Leaf struggled again Sunday, passing for just 83 yards, but the rookie also didn't turn the ball over for just the second game in his seven NFL starts. Seau and the Chargers defense did the rest in a 13-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The victory in a match of two troubled teams also made June Jones a winner in his new job as Chargers interim coach. He was the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to replace the fired Kevin Gilbride last Tuesday.
"I'm happy I finally went out there and played mistake-free football," said Leaf, who completed 9-of-19, averaged 1.1 yards per pass and was sacked six times for 55 yards. "When you don't make turnovers, you win games with a defense like ours."
"If we had turned it over one time, we probably would have lost the game. We've got to get better in the passing game and we will. You've got to take the first step and we did; we got through without making any major errors."
Seau, who was in on 10 tackles and sealed the victory wih a late fumble recovery, said he felt the win said something about the character of the team.
"It was a tough loss to the Raiders (7-6 a week earlier), then we go in and lose the coach, so we took a couple of steps back," Seau said. "I was more motivated this week. We knew we had to go out and do our job. ... We had a coach lose his job because of us."
| Freddie Jones and the Chargers caught a second wind under new coach June Jones, who won in his debut. (AP) |
San Diego (3-4) ended a four-game slide with the victory over the Eagles (1-6), who have won just once in their last 10 games, dating back to last year and haven't won on the road since 1996 (0-12-1).
John Carney kicked his second field goal, a 26-yarder with 7:18 remaining, to snap a 10-10 tie.
The Chargers' defense made that hold up, with Seau recovering a fumble by the Eagles' Russell Copeland at the San Diego 38 with 1:53 left. The defense also set up Carney's go-ahead field goal when tackle Norman Hand grabbed a deflected pass from Rodney Peete to give the Chargers the ball at the Philadelphia 18.
Peete earlier was victimized by Charles Dimry's interception in the San Diego end zone that snuffed a scoring threat.
"You can't win in this business with the turnovers we had," said Philadelphia coach Ray Rhodes, whose job security may be dwindling with each Eagles loss. "We did not execute. We wasted some big efforts by some guys and it's a shame."
Philadelphia's Charlie Garner tied it 10-10 with a 12-yard scoring run early in the final quarter. Natrone Means put the Chargers up by seven in the third quarter with a tackle-breaking 14-yard run, San Diego's first touchdown in six quarters and just its sixth of the season.
Leaf, who still has thrown just one touchdown pass and 12 interceptions and lost three fumbles, was benched by Gilbride during the loss at Oakland last weekend. He said he felt comfortable working with Jones.
"He has a laid-back attitude," Leaf said. "You know on the sidelines that he's going to teach you. I have nothing but good things to say about him."
Peete was 22-of-39 passes for 232 yards, with two interceptions, and was sacked five times.
Philadelphia's Chris Boniol, who missed from 42 yards in the first quarter, made a 35-yarder to even it 3-3 midway through the second. Carney kicked 23-yarder earlier to put San Diego ahead.
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