American Football: Chargers prolong coach's pain

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Marty Schottenheimer may have been voted Coach of the Year, but some things never change for the coaching veteran. When the play-offs come around, Schottenheimer's sides tend to be found wanting, so it was no surprise when his San Diego Chargers fell 20-17 at home to the New York Jets on Saturday night.

The popular coach proved his worth again this season, guiding the Chargers to the post-season for the first time in nine years. But Schottenheimer also carries the unwanted sobriquet of best coach never to go to the Super Bowl, and his personal drought looks endless.

Trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Chargers rallied to send the contest to overtime. Their kicker, Nate Kaeding, then missed a game-winning 40-yard field. The New Yorkers duly grabbed their lifeline, with Doug Brien converting a 28-yard kick to end Schottenheimer's quest for another season.

"I let my team-mates and my coaches down," said the wretched Kaeding, "and I wasn't able to look them in the eye when I came back in the locker-room knowing I didn't do my job."

The Seattle Seahawks are also out following their 27-20 home loss at the hands of the St Louis Rams. The defeat may end the tenure of the Seattle head coach, Mike Holmgren, who has been linked with the vacancy in San Francisco.

The end may also be in sight for Seattle's venerable 42-year-old wide receiver Jerry Rice. The league's all-time leading pass catcher is pondering his future, and could follow Holmgren to the 49ers, where he won three Super Bowls in the early days of a record-setting career.