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Leaf shines, but falls short

Galloway's big plays give Seattle 27-20 win over Chargers

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Posted: Sunday October 25, 1998 11:37 PM

  Special-team, special player: Galloway scored on an 81-yard reception and a 74-yard punt return in the first half AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Cornerback Terrance Shaw had it. No, wide receiver Joey Galloway had it.

They both had it, the officials ruled after the two players came down with the ball on San Diego's 2-yard line late in the game. Because of the simultaneous possession, Galloway's Seahawks kept the ball after the controversial play, scored and went on to beat the Chargers 27-20 Sunday.

"I don't care if we stole it or they gave it to us, we won," said Galloway, who scored first-half touchdowns on an 81-yard reception and a 74-yard punt return.

Galloway's catch helped negate rookie Ryan Leaf's finest day as a pro. He completed 25 of 52 passes for 281 yards, threw his first TD pass since the season opener and had no turnovers for the second straight game. He also moved the Chargers to Seahawks' 3 in the final seconds before throwing three straight incomplete passes into the end zone.

The key play came with the Seahawks leading 20-17 and with a first-and-10 on the Chargers' 43. John Friesz, starting because Warren Moon has a cracked rib, threw a long pass that Galloway and Shaw both came down with.

"When I saw the ball I couldn't see him [Shaw]," Galloway said. "He came into the picture and it was just a wrestling match for it."

Back judge Bobby Skelton tripped and rolled into the end zone, but saw the simultaneous catch prior to falling down, referee Larry Nemmers said afterward.

Several Chargers argued with the officials, and Shaw was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected. That moved the ball to the 1.

Mikhael Ricks caught a 5-yard fade pass for the first touchdown of his career AP 

"The simultaneous catch rule states that when the offensive player and the defensive player both come down with the ball that the ball belongs to the offensive team," Nemmers said.

"I was just trying to cover it up so the officials couldn't really see how much he had and how much I had because I knew he had a little more than I did," Galloway said.

As the Seahawks lined up at the 1 to run the next play, fans threw trash on the field. Friesz's sneak failed, then Ricky Watters went over the top for the score.

Shaw refused to meet with reporters.

"We don't agree with it [the call] at all," safety Rodney Harrison said. "It had a big impact on the game. It was definitely an interception, in my opinion."

Interim coach June Jones said he thought Shaw caught the ball.

"But you know, that's the way the NFL is. The official who made the call was on his back in the end zone. That's all I have to say about that."

The Seahawks (4-3), coming off their bye week, snapped a three-game losing streak. The Chargers (3-5) scored two touchdowns for the first time this season.

  Leaf (center) had his best game as a pro, completing 25 of 52 passes for 281 yards AP

After Watters' TD, San Diego cut the lead on John Carney's 45-yard field goal, and Leaf came up just short of forcing overtime.

Leaf kept San Diego's final drive alive with a fourth-down completion to Bryan Still, then threw passes of 23 and 18 yards to Charlie Jones and an 11-yarder to Mikhael Ricks to get the Chargers to the 3. Two passes to Ricks and one to Jones went incomplete and the Chargers failed to force overtime.

"It's a tough way to end a game, to go all the way down the field like that," said Leaf, who sustained bruised ribs when he was sacked on San Diego's first play from scrimmage.

On the third play of Seattle's second possession, Galloway caught Friesz's long pass at the 50. Shaw missed a tackle at the 40, safety Greg Jackson dove and missed at the 24 and Galloway slowed at the 15, sauntering the rest of the way and doing a 360-degree turn for effect.

After the teams traded field goals, Galloway ran 74 yards untouched on a punt return for a 17-3 lead.

Leaf threw a 5-yard fade pass to fellow rookie Ricks, who won a mismatch against cornerback Shawn Springs, to cut the Seattle lead to 17-10 with 33 seconds left before halftime. It was Leaf's first TD pass since the third quarter of the opener, a span of 24 quarters in which Leaf had played. He missed the fourth quarter of two games after being benched.

Natrone Means' 1-yard run tied the game at 17 late in the third quarter, then Seattle's Todd Peterson kicked a 40-yard field goal to put the Seahawks ahead for good.

Extra points

San Diego allowed 284 yards on punt and kickoff returns. ... Seattle had just two first downs and 103 total yards in the first half and controlled the ball only 6 minutes, 52 seconds. ... San Diego's 20 points, 391 total yards and 27 first downs were all season-highs. ... Seattle running back Steve Broussard sustained a bruised quadriceps on a kickoff return in the first half and didn't return. San Diego punter Darren Bennett sprained his left knee on the punt Galloway returned for the TD. He will have an MRI exam on Monday.


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