Posted December 29, 2013

Better to be lucky than good? Chargers sneak into playoffs with OT win

AFC West, NFL Playoffs, San Diego Chargers
Eric Weddle and the Chargers are going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Eric Weddle and the Chargers are going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Do you believe in … well, maybe not miracles, but something otherwordly certainly seemed to be cooking in the Chargers’ favor over the season’s final two weeks. They needed losses by Miami and Baltimore in both Weeks 16 and 17 to have a playoff shot Sunday, then needed a missed 41-yard field goal from Kansas City’s Ryan Succop to avoid a crushing home loss.

Succop’s gaffe gave San Diego new life against what essentially was the Chiefs’ second- and third-string. The Chargers took advantage of that second chance — barely. A short Nick Novak field goal gave them a 27-24 overtime lead, then the defense stiffened after Kansas City drove to San Diego’s 36.

“It’s crazy, it’s been … I’m emotional about it because it’s been an unreal ride this season,” a slightly teary-eyed Philip Rivers told CBS. “We haven’t been to the postseason in a long time. Percentage-wise, you want to do the math, we were under a one percent chance two weeks ago.”
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The odds weren’t much better throughout much of the second half Sunday. The Chiefs, with most of their starters either inactive or resting, nabbed a 21-14 halftime lead nonetheless and extended it to 24-14 after three quarters (on a 46-yard Succop field goal, by the way).

The Chargers still trailed by three when they took over at their own 30, 7:37 on the clock. They drove deep into K.C. territory, then stalled at the four and settled for a field goal.

And that had the Chiefs needing only a field goal of their own to send San Diego packing … and Pittsburgh to the playoffs. Backup QB Chase Daniel, starting in place of Alex Smith, put together more than enough of a drive to make that happen.

But Succop’s potential game-winning kick drifted wide right.

“We left the TVs on a little longer today than normal,” said Rivers on some pregame scoreboard-watching. “We didn’t do our part for about three and a half quarters, but whatever you have to do to win — there’s no style points.”

The Chargers’ last playoff trip came in 2009, with the franchise haunted since then by the inability to finish off promising seasons. Even those Chargers squads that perennially challenged for or won the division were known as much for stumbling in the playoffs as anything they accomplished. Those failures eventually cost Norv Turner his job.

So there were more than a few folks expecting San Diego to find some way to hand Sunday’s game away, even against a thinned-out Chiefs team with nothing of substance to play for.

They nearly did just that. Heck, they even looked at times like they were trying to do just that, with some sloppy offense and shaky defense. The fourth quarter was mostly a different story, with Rivers leading two scoring drives to put his team in position for overtime.

Head coach Mike McCoy then laid it all on the line in overtime, calling for a fake punt on 4th-and-2 from his own 28. Safety Eric Weddle picked up the first down — and appeared to fumble the ball into Kansas City’s arms, but for the determination that his forward progress had been stopped.

Another break the Chargers won’t soon complain about.

The flip side of the dramatic San Diego win finds a Steelers team that likely was ready to celebrate when Succop lined up for his kick at the end of regulation. Had Succop hit that field goal, the Steelers, despite starting 0-4 and needing a list of scenarios about the length of War and Peace to occur for them to survive, would have claimed a wild-card berth. They took care of business earlier Sunday — just as they had in Weeks 15 and 16 — downing the Browns.

As the other teams racing Pittsburgh to a playoff spot fell by the wayside, though, the Chargers kept plugging along. The Jets tumbled out of contention prior to Week 17, then the Dolphins and Ravens followed them in rather surprising fashion.

San Diego never quite made it all the way to the bottom.

Did the Chargers deserve to win Sunday? Probably not. They also won’t complain that fortune smiled upon them this time.

29 comments
boltnars
boltnars

The rule of more than 6 people lining up on one side was just changed last year - not full of urgency to change that rule.  Plus, the formation did not affect the kick.  It's not like the tuck rule that sent the Pats to the Super Bowl instead of Raiders.  No team should lose like that, but the formation on the kick was not the reason Succop choked,

WilliamSmith3
WilliamSmith3

The Chargers have had their share of blown calls against them this year. It's about time they catch a break. Call it karma or whatever, redemption happen to come at that peticular   moment. It could happen to any team, and it does happen.

unpolitical_one
unpolitical_one

the chargers didn't "deserve to win" but did just like sometimes they don't deserve to lose but do. karma perhaps?

rct303
rct303

On the wings of an angel, or is it the billy goat curse on all that come to conquer the indefensible. The sometimes lackluster and sometimes alchemists have proven that the old proverb" the more you know the less you realize you know" very true. Their( chargers) inconsistency has to be scary for consistently good teams that rely on consistent outcomes. The Bengals may just find themselves out thinking themselves into this sticky web.

rct303
rct303

I've come to the conclusion that San Diego plays to lose when favored. They, it seems, believe in their own self full-filling prophecy of being contrarians to all odds. Also, could a coaching staff be more oblivious? 

When your team finds itself with a third and three on two separate occasions, the only logical call can be to "chuck the ball forty yards down field into coverage", "clueless" only begins to describe their thinking. With that said, the Chargers will be outclassed and predicted to lose in Cincinnati. Take the Chargers for a safe bet.

6marK6
6marK6

I think we have too many wildcards. Seriously, you need to go OT at home against a team that set all their starters. Back on in.

quietskies
quietskies

rather than focusing on San Diego's luck, how about focusing on Baltimore and Miami's inability to close out the season?  If either win anything down the stretch, San Diego isn't in the playoffs.  For that matter, Pittsburgh could have one another game somewhere in there an been in the playoffs.  Anyone could have won more games and been there.  they didn't and San Diego did.  The end.

wetmouse
wetmouse

When a team desperately needing a win to make the playoffs plays a team that sits 20 (!!!) of its starters, and wins after a blown call by the officials at the end of regulation, at home.... Well, it better enjoy the next six days because the Chargers are going to get blown out next weekend.

And it just blew its draft position for all seven rounds too, nor is a Keenan Allen type player likely to fall to them in the 3rd round again. Chargers fans don't seem to realize the last three weeks have been bad news for the franchise.

But they will...

SherylLawtyFlores
SherylLawtyFlores

The Superbowl was given to the Steelers...everybody knows it.   The whole world does.  If your a steeler fan....your season is over...and frankly I couldn't be happier. 

SherylLawtyFlores
SherylLawtyFlores

The Steeler fans have NOTHING to complain about!!  They were given superbowl 40 on a silver platter!!!




brandon0206
brandon0206

I didn't realize Steelers fans were such crybabies. I've lost a lot of respect for that fan base today 

slickwilly
slickwilly

A little off-tangent, but Steelers OC Todd Haley sucks. His offense is terrible.

mmb524
mmb524

Helmet came off, play is dead. Stop Complaining.

wiffle
wiffle

Let's forget all the steeler fan stuff, and anything else, look at the fact, he did not get the first down, he was moving forward and FUMBLED the ball, KC took the live ball NO whistle was blown and ran the ball into the end zone,  game over KC won the game, KC got screwed!!! Period.

MarcoZ
MarcoZ

The Chiefs were ripped off on the fake punt.  If it was forward progress he did not make the first down.  If he was still churning forward as it appeared then KC stole the ball and scored.  When the officials huddled I heard Roger Goddell call and tell them "I hate those Steelers."

jj55
jj55

@wetmouseYou're all wet, mouse. San Diego plays to the level of the opponent, you can look it up. They'll take it down to the last play against the NFL All Stars or a girl's touch football team. They beat Philly, KC and Denver on the road (all close, of course) and somehow lost to Texas and Washington (also in the final seconds). If you bet on a blowout--which, by the way, hardly ever happens to SD because they are so busy finding new and innovative ways to win or lose in the last seconds--you'll lose your mouse house. Squeak.

j7apple
j7apple

@wetmouse Playing for a draft pick is overrated, teams just don't do that.

KelliMcMillan
KelliMcMillan

@danieljludwig1 There have been so many bad calls by refs against the Chargers over the years that it has led to rule changes. Dont' even talk to Charger fans about bad calls. We know it better than you, and FINALLY a bad call goes our way. Suck it up. That is the way the game is played.

RickEger
RickEger

 @SherylLawtyFlores I'm tired of hearing about the 05 Super Bowl, it'a in the books look it up. Oh btw the Steelers started 0 and 4, nobodies crying about not making the play offs. We don't deserve it....in my opinion any team with an 8 and 8 record has nothing too brag about.


we'll see how far the Chargers go.

sdjase
sdjase

@brandon0206 Your mistake for having respect for them in the first place. I've been to plenty of Chargers / Steelers game and they make the Patriots fans look like... well, not that great either. Never mind. They are all crybaby losers.

futbalguy
futbalguy

@MarcoZ Hello Steelers fan, you sir are a gigantic baby. The steelers started the season 0-4. If it's anyone's fault that they didn't make the playoffs its their own. The chargers won, therefore they deserve to go. 

danieljludwig1
danieljludwig1

@KelliMcMillan @danieljludwig1 I seriously dout there were any calls as bad as the fumble or as blatant as the FG. There are bad calls and then there are horrible inexplicibale calls. If you can point to any on this level I'd listen.

danieljludwig1
danieljludwig1

@futbalguy @MarcoZ Staring 0-4 has nothing to do with it. The Chargers won??? Seriously. That was a gift. The ball was stripped and returned for a TD. Game over. Nothing else in the past matters. The reason that that call won't go down as one of the worst in history is because it most significantly impacted a team that wasn't playing in that game. If that was a playoff game and the Chiefs lost on that, or if the Chiefs needed that win to make the playoffs it would go down as one of the worst calls ever. Telling yourself anything else is just you trying to convince yourself.