Beathard made a number of mistakes against the Chargers who, admittedly, were playing with several injuries in their defense and without their superb flanker, Lance Alworth. But he kept his poise when Houston fell behind 7-3, overcame his errors and threw two touchdown passes. A heartening aspect for the Oilers was that Burrell caught five passes. "A couple of them were off-target but he went up and got them," Beathard said. Campbell, a rookie from Northwestern, made four catches, one for a touchdown. Granger, a 225-pounder out of Mississippi State, passed the 1,000-yard mark in the third quarter. "I was glad to get it," he said. "So many people had been talking about it that I couldn't get it out of my head. And I could hear the public-address announcer saying how close I was. Then when I got it, suddenly I could forget." Granger carried 27 times for 107 yards, the sixth time this season he has surpassed 100 yards in a game.
With slightly less than three minutes to play, one Houston trade backfired when Charger Tight End Willie Frazier—a former Oiler—caught a pass from John Hadl and ran over two Oilers for a 16-yard touchdown that pulled San Diego within seven points. But the Oilers kept the ball for the rest of the game.
Now the worst Houston can do—after the Jets' 38-29 loss to Oakland Sunday—is to tie New York for the Eastern Division championship and cause a playoff at Shea Stadium on New Year's Eve. That would delay the AFL championship game until January 7. Neither Houston nor New York is likely to knock the Oakland Raiders out of a Super Bowl ticket. But with one more rookie haul like the last one, the Oilers can start considering a Super Bowl in their own future, no matter which city they represent.