American Football: Chargers caught in Miami vice

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The Independent Online
IT WAS Stan Humphries' bad luck that he saved his worst performance of the season for his side's biggest game. Humphries, the quarterback who had contributed so much to the renaissance of the San Diego Chargers, laboured all day and was intercepted four times in the play-off match-up in Miami, allowing the Dolphins to run out 31-0 winners.

Dan Marino, on the other hand, threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions for Miami, and they entertain Buffalo on Sunday in the AFC Championship game buoyed by their most impressive result of the campaign.

The Miami offense struggled at the end of the regular season, scraping victories against lesser opposition, but capitalised on a succession of second-quarter turnovers all of which Marino coverted for touchdowns. The Dolphins led 21-0 at the half, and a scoreless third quarter virtually ensured victory. Just as significant was the Miami defense which restricted San Diego's normally potent rushing game to 70 yards.

Humphries, who has been injured recently, accepted the blame for the loss. 'I'm the guy that has the football in his hand the most, and I had one of the days that you'd like to forget for the rest of your life, maybe,' he said. 'I can't blame it on my shoulder or hand or anything. It was strictly me out there. I just didn't throw the football very well, and when I did I threw it to them.'

The Chargers, like Philadelphia earlier in the day, saw a season's work come to an end in lopsided defeat. The Eagles were buried

34-10 in Dallas, and may be a very different team next year. Their brutally watchable defense could break up, with Reggie White and Clyde Simmons seemingly intent on using the new free agency rules as a route out of Philadelphia. If Dallas was their swan-song it is a shame it was not a more memorable one.

Meanwhile in New England things get ever more complicated. The story so far is as follows: on Friday Sam Jankovich, the team's chief executive, sacks his head coach Dick MacPherson. Shortly afterwards Jankovich resigns. MacPherson's lawyer then approaches the club's owner, James B Orthwein, pleading for MacPherson's reinstatement. Orthwein, though, is keen to sell the team and feels this might be easier without a head coach. As officially the worst team in the league New England have the first pick in this year's draft. The only trouble is working out who will make the choice.

SUNDAY'S PLAY-OFF GAMES: AFC Championship: Buffalo at Miami. NFC Championship: Dallas at San Francisco.