By David Schoenfield
Page 2

Chargers fans, meet Chiefs fans. Chiefs fans, you already know Browns fans. Your therapy session may now begin.

Is there anything in sports more painful than rooting for a team coached by Marty Schottenheimer? Chargers fans felt the sting in 2004 when San Diego lost at home to the Jets in a wild-card playoff game. Sunday's loss to the Patriots was a dagger in the spine, further affirmation of Schottenheimer's playoff issues.

In the regular season, Schottenheimer's stats are shiny and impressive: 200 wins (only four coaches have won more, and of those only Don Shula coached in the 1990s), only two losing records in 21 seasons and 13 playoff appearances.

That, of course, is where it gets ugly. Schottenheimer's playoff record is 5-13. Even worse, his projected playoff record, based on his team's regular-season win-loss records compared to playoff opponents, is 15-11. (For example, the 2006 Chargers had the best record in the NFL and would be projected to go 3-0 in the playoffs.) His three best teams -- the '06 Chargers (14-2), '97 Chiefs (13-3) and '95 Chiefs (13-3) -- all lost their first playoff games.

Is Marty to blame? Does he choke? Or have his teams just run into weird, bad luck? Let's look at all his playoff defeats and assign a Marty Gag Factor on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the biggest gag).

Score: Patriots (12-4) 24, at Chargers (14-2) 21

Key Reasons for Defeat: Chargers lead 21-13 when Marlon McCree intercepts Tom Brady on key fourth-down play in fourth quarter. McCree fumbles the return, the Patriots recover, score, make two-point conversion, stop Chargers, kick field goal, dance on logo at midfield.

Key Marty Decision: He challenges McCree's fumble when replays clearly show it was the correct call. Chargers are charged a timeout, which comes back to haunt them on their final drive. Out of timeouts, Nate Kaeding is forced to attempt a 54-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, which is short and wide right.

Other Notes: Marty elects to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the New England 30 in the first quarter. Umm, the weather is perfect, no wind, your kicker hasn't missed a field goal at home since the 2004 playoffs ... and you don't think he can make a 47-yarder? This is your 2006 NFL playoffs, folks!

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: Jets (10-6) 20, at Chargers (12-4) 17, in overtime

What Happened? In OT, Kaeding missed a potential game-winning 40-yard field goal. This was set up by Marty calling three straight plunges up the middle by LaDainian Tomlinson that gained zero yards against a gassed Jets defense -- all in order to put the season on the shoulders of a rookie kicking off a rain-soaked surface.

Number of Marty Eruptions: Two, including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for running onto the field (arguing the Jets had roughed up his punter), which gave the Jets better field position. Five plays later, they scored a TD. He also erupted after the Chargers were whistled for too many men on the field on a key fourth-quarter play.

Did the Fans Boo? Yes, in the third quarter, when the Chargers' offense went -- yes, this is a shocking anecdote -- conservative.

Wait, Didn't Chad Pennington Have a Bum Shoulder? Yes. And he still threw for 270 yards.

Quote From the AP Game Story: "The Jets celebrated wildly while Schottenheimer walked across the field with a far-off look on his face."

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: Broncos (12-4) 14, at Chiefs (13-3) 10

Hey, Didn't Denver Win the Super Bowl That Year? Yes, there was no shame in losing this game, as Denver had the largest point differential in the NFL. Although the Chiefs outgained the Broncos 303-272, committed zero turnovers to two for Denver, they couldn't hold a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

Proof That the NFL Playoffs Are Messed Up: Because Denver was a wild card, it played Kansas City, while the Patriots (10-6) played the Steelers (11-5), since they were higher seeds.

So You're Letting Marty Off the Hook Here? Not quite. Thought about giving him a 1 here, but since it was a home game...

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: Colts (9-7) 10, at Chiefs (13-3) 7

Ouch! In one of the bigger upsets in playoffs history, in 11-degree weather (minus-9 wind chill) the Chiefs turned the ball over four times (Steve Bono threw three picks) and Lin Elliot missed field goals from 35, 39 and 42 (with 42 seconds remaining).

Panic Move: After Bono threw his third interception, Marty pulled Bono for the first time all season in the fourth quarter. Granted, it's Steve Bono, but he was a Pro Bowler that season.

Chiefs' Record at Home in 1995: 8-0.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Bills 30 (12-4), Chiefs (11-5) 13

Stat of the Year: In the divisional playoff round, the Chiefs beat the Oilers 28-20 -- the only road game Schottenheimer has ever won in the playoffs.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Chargers (11-5) 17, Chiefs (10-6) 0

Are You Noticing a Trend? Marty's teams tend to lay an egg on offense in the playoffs. Still, this was pretty awful. Dave Krieg threw two picks and was sacked seven times, and K.C. gained only 61 yards rushing.

Then Again: Chiefs RB Barry Word was the team's leading rusher that year. And the Chargers had the NFL's second-best run defense.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Bills (13-3) 37, Chiefs 14 (10-6)

Was It As Ugly As the Score? Yes. Buffalo outgained K.C., 448 to 213, and the Chiefs threw four interceptions (thank you, Steve DeBerg).

But the Week Before: The Chiefs beat the Raiders, 10-6!

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Dolphins (12-4) 17, Chiefs (11-5) 16

The Grimy Details: Marty was more than happy to settle for short field goals (25 and 27 yards) from Nick Lowery, which came back to haunt him when Dan Marino led the Dolphins on an 85-yard drive in the closing minutes. Lowery's 52-yard attempt with 49 seconds fell short.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: Oilers (10-6) 24, at Browns (10-6) 23

You're Not Blaming Marty For This One, Are You? Hard to pin this loss on him, considering backup QB Don Strock (who was starting for the injured Bernie Kosar) was injured and replaced by third-stringer Mike Pagel.

On the Other Hand: It was a home game. Hey, nobody said we're nice.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Broncos (10-4-1) 38, Browns (10-5) 33

The Fumble: How can you blame Marty for this one? Earnest Byner was about to score the tying touchdown with just over a minute left when he was stripped of the ball at the 3-yard line. Denver held on after taking an intentional safety to beat Cleveland for the second straight year in the AFC Championship Game.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: Broncos (11-5) 23, at Browns (12-4) 20, in overtime

The Drive: One of the great games in NFL history saw Marty and his No. 1-seeded Browns come up short when John Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards in the final 5:32 to force overtime. Denver then won in OT.

Marty's Fault? The big play on the drive was a third-and-18 completion from Elway to Mark Jackson for 20 yards. Who knows, maybe if Cleveland had stopped that play, Marty's history would be different. Alas ... YOU CAN'T LET THE OPPONENT DRIVE 98 YARDS ON YOUR HOME FIELD, EVEN IF IT IS JOHN ELWAY. Plus, let's be honest here, the '86 Broncos weren't exactly the '94 49ers on offense.

Marty Gag Factor:

Score: At Dolphins (12-4) 24, Browns (8-8) 21

Back in the Early Days: Certainly, the Browns were huge underdogs to Miami after sneaking into the playoffs with a .500 record. But Cleveland led 21-3 early in the third quarter ... and then collapsed. The 18-point collapse remains one of the largest in playoff history. Some guy named Ron Davenport scored on a 31-yard run for Miami and then Marino led the Dolphins to the game-winning TD with just under two minutes left.

Marty Gag Factor: