49ers 17

(7-3, 3-2 away)

Chargers 20

(7-3, 4-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:05 PM ET, November 17, 2002

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
SF 0 7 10 0 017
SD 7 0 0 10 320

Niners kicking still suspect, Chargers deliver in clutch

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It turns out the San Diego Chargers have heart, after all.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the 49ers: Given today's developments (Packers' and Saints' losses, McNabb injury), how do you like the Niners' chances of winning the NFC?
I see the 49ers as the second seed in the NFC. We've known for a long time that Green Bay doesn't play well at Minnesota, so I don't read too much into the Packers' loss today. I still think they'll be the top team in the NFC. But if any team can beat the Packers at Lambeau, it's the 49ers and their explosive offense.

Question on the Chargers: Can they keep this up and make a serious playoff push in the final six weeks?
Yes. The Chargers have shown that they're legit, and they've proven they can beat quality teams. It shows how far they've come; in recent years, they've started fast and then faded. The Chargers have all the components of a playoff team, except at QB. Drew Brees is talented but still young and inexperienced. If the Chargers keep playing like they did today, Brees will have the opportunity to get some playoff experience sooner rather than later.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

A week after LaDainian Tomlinson questioned his team's desire following a fourth-quarter collapse in St. Louis, the Chargers rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in overtime Sunday.

Drew Brees got the Chargers into position and Steve Christie, one of the NFL's best clutch kickers, ended it with a 40-yard field goal with 4:11 left in the extra period.

Christie got his chance because San Francisco's Jose Cortez was wide right on a 41-yard attempt. It was Cortez's fourth miss in three weeks, including two in regulation at Oakland on Nov. 3 before he won that game in overtime with a 23-yarder.

"If there was any question about their heart, I think that was dispelled,'' coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "This team has great heart. Just look at the games we've been in and how we've managed to hang on and win. And yeah we lost one last week, but you know what? Those other guys get paid, too.''

Tomlinson changed his tone 180 degrees.

"The 49ers are a good team. We kept battling and we kept battling,'' he said. "That shows you what kind of heart this team has, to win a game like this.''

The Chargers (7-3), who trailed 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, rallied to snap a two-game losing streak and kept pace with Denver for the AFC's best record.

San Francisco (7-3) blew a chance to pull into a tie with Green Bay for the NFL's best record, and saw its three-game winning streak end.

"We're usually better at the end of a game than we were today,'' 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. Cortez "has done some good things for us this season, but he's also missed a few.''

After Cortez missed, Brees moved the Chargers from their 31 to the San Francisco 22. He threw passes of 19 yards to Tim Dwight and 18 to Eric Parker, a rookie who made his first reception, to help set up Christie.

"The last time I was really nervous was when I kicked an overtime field goal in my rookie year,'' said Christie , a 13-year veteran signed late last season because Wade Richey was so inconsistent. "All I'm trying to do is keep my confidence.''

It was Christie's eighth OT field goal, second most in NFL history to Jim Breech's nine.

Christie had a 44-yard attempt blocked by Dana Stubblefield as the first-half clock expired, and kicked a 36-yarder with 5:05 to play to pull the Chargers to 17-10.

Brees was impressive in driving the Chargers to the tying score, a 1-yard pass to wide-open fullback Fred McCrary with 31 seconds left in regulation. Brees completed 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards, including a 23-yarder to Dwight.

Two plays before the touchdown, on third-and-goal from the 8, 49ers rookie cornerback Mike Rumph grabbed rookie receiver Reche Caldwell's jersey in the end zone and was flagged for pass interference, giving the Chargers first down from the 1.

Brees completed 29 of 50 passes for 336 yards -- all career highs -- and two touchdowns, with one interception.

Tomlinson, the NFL's leading rusher who was working behind a makeshift line, had 88 yards on 24 carries, giving him 1,053 for the year. He also caught eight passes for 57 yards. Curtis Conway had seven catches for 152 yards.

San Francisco's Terrell Owens caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia on fourth-and-4 just before halftime, then had a 76-yard catch-and-run TD three plays into the second half to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead.

Owens finished with seven catches for 171 yards. Garcia was 25-of-43 for 337 yards, with two TDs and one interception.

Owens, known for his controversial TD celebrations, was relatively sedate. After his second TD, which gave the Niners a 14-7 lead, Owens stood on the ball with one foot and flexed his right arm.

Cortez kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead midway through the third quarter.

The Chargers then blew two scoring chances.

A 35-yard touchdown pass to Conway was called back after Conway stepped out of bounds, then came back in to make the catch.

Early in the fourth quarter, Brees moved the Chargers from their 25 to the Niners 4 in just three plays, but was intercepted in the end zone by Quincy Stewart. Schottenheimer covered his head with his hands on the sideline.

Brees gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead with a 4-yard pass to Caldwell late in the first quarter.

Game notes

It was the Chargers' first win over the Niners in seven games dating to 1988. ... Chargers LB Donnie Edwards and G Bob Hallen were knocked out of the game with concussions. G Michael Keathley sprained an ankle. 49ers OT Derrick Deese sprained an ankle. ... The Chargers also won in OT at Oakland on Oct. 20, 27-21.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 0:02
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 0:02
sdFG5:20Steve Christie 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 62 yds, 2:18
Drive info: 5 plays, 70 yds, 0:58
Drive info: 5 plays, 70 yds, 0:58
sdFG5:08Steve Christie 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 55 yds, 3:38
sfFG7:24Jose Cortez 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 42 yds, 3:54
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 2:24
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 2:24
Drive info: 11 plays, 58 yds, 1:47
Drive info: 11 plays, 58 yds, 1:47