SAN DIEGO (AP) — Norv Turner is still coaching the Chargers, perhaps to the chagrin of some fans, as San Diego pulled to 4-4 at the season's midpoint.
The Chargers were able to call off the hounds howling for Turner's job — at least for now — by beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-13 Thursday night.
San Diego rediscovered the end zone, took advantage of four more turnovers by the sad-sack Chiefs and snapped a three-game losing streak that had riled up the paying customers to the point that the Chargers needed corporate support to lift the local TV blackout. Still, there were an estimated 15,000 empty seats.
Pregame speculation about his job security didn't seem to faze Turner, who's heard such talk for practically his entire Chargers tenure, which started in 2007.
"The one thing that's different now than I guess, I don't know, when this all started, but if someone says something on the radio or TV, or in an interview, that it becomes fact," Turner said. "Sometimes it's fact and sometimes it isn't. That was not my concern going into the game."
As for the person who started the speculation about Turner's possible firing if the Chargers lost Thursday, "There's a chance that he's wrong," the coach said pointedly.
Did the win save Turner's job?
"I don't think that was the case," he said. "Obviously there's no evidence to say that it was, and I go on my relationship, my understanding of what we're doing. That's was not the issue for me."
The team refused to make team President Dean Spanos available during a three-game losing streak that included the Chargers blowing double-digit, second-half leads in losses at New Orleans and at home to Denver. San Diego then lost 7-6 at Cleveland.
The Chargers broke a streak of six straight quarters without a touchdown when Antonio Gates caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers to cap the game's first drive Thursday night.
Half of San Diego's wins are against Kansas City (1-7). The Chiefs committed 10 of their NFL-high 29 turnovers in their two games against the Chargers.
San Diego has yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Running back Ronnie Brown said the Chargers didn't feel like they were playing for Turner's job.
"That wasn't even an option," he said. "Like losing yesterday, when we were talking in the locker room, nobody wanted to deal with that feeling we've had with the last few weeks. We all just wanted to do whatever it took to get another win. That's all we talked about during the week. Fortunately, we were able to carry that over into the game."
At halftime, some fans in one end zone unfurled a big yellow banner that read: "Mr. Spanos, please fire A.J. & Norv."
Spanos decided in January to bring back both Turner and general manager A.J. Smith even though the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second straight year and have only one postseason win in four seasons.
Brown said players hear the fans talk about wanting Turner and Smith fired.
"Definitely. That's something, just being here and being in San Diego, being around the media, you're going to see it, you're going to hear it, no matter how much you try to avoid it," he said. "You really can't listen to it. One of the things when we signed up, when everybody signed their contracts to be a San Diego Charger, we all took the responsibility to make sure you look out for one another and try to make sure that within that locker room, we were all trying to support each other no matter what we were going through or no matter what kind of adversity we were facing. It's was tough to be in the situation we were the last few weeks knowing that we have the potential and the people on the team to win, but for some odd reason we didn't get it done the last few weeks. Everybody had the same mentality, same focus and same goal in mind, to get that fourth win."
Are the Chargers happy to be 4-4?
"You know the answer to that," Turner said. "Obviously getting the win was big. I'm disappointed in the fact that the games I've mentioned, that we played at a high level through extended periods of the game, but were not able to finish games or made the big mistakes that kept us from winning games."
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