The San Diego Chargers needed a lot of things to happen on the final two weeks of the season in order to find themselves in the playoffs, and they did. After getting the results they wanted in the first round of games during week 17, all that was left happened to be beating the Kansas City Chiefs, who had nothing to play for.
Not that the Chargers found it easy. They came up with the 27-24 overtime win, that almost didn’t happen. The Chargers pulled off a fake punt on their own 28 in overtime, converting it, being the deepest fake punt of the season anyone has even tried. It resulted in a drive that put Nick Novak in a position to win the game, hitting the 36 yard field goal, following the field goal with 3:21 left in the game to actually send the game into extra time.
The Chargers won the final four games of the season, becoming the 6th team under the current playoff format to make the playoffs after starting 5-7 or worse through 12 games. They are the first to do it since… the Chargers in 2008. Another interesting fact is that three of the six teams to do it were Chargers squads.
The Chiefs didn’t put up their best lineup (Chase Daniel at quarterback), but still led 24-14 when the two teams entered the fourth quarter. Daniel, the former Missouri man, completed 21-of-30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, while Knile Davis ran for 81 yards and two scores. Daniel also rushed for 59 yards on 7 carries, scoring a touchdown himself.
Philip Rivers started taking advantage of the Chiefs poor defense outside the numbers late in the game, finishing with 10-of-14 with three touchdowns against the Chiefs’ backups, although 11 of those 14 attempts came in the second half or overtime. He finished the game throwing for 229 yards, getting a lot of help from Ryan Mathews on the ground, running for 144 yards. Of those yards, 58 came after contact, making it six games with over 100 yards on the ground this season, finishing behind LeSean McCoy with seven.
It feels like this season is meant to be special. Whether it happens or not, we’ll read that story at the end. But we’re in, and no one really thought that could happen.
Special? Desinty is more like it. The San Diego Chargers played against the Eagles in Philadelphia for their home opener. The last four Super Bowl champions have been through the same thing, so even though the Chargers don’t actually look like even close to being favorites heading into the postseason, going through a game in Cincinnati to start the playoffs (their first since 2009), there might be bigger powers than actual on-field ability involved.
The Chiefs have lost seven of the last seven games, putting them in a tough situation, heading into Indianapolis. It’s quite the turnaround to even be in the playoffs, but there’s a feeling that a lot of what worked for them in the first half of the season just isn’t there anymore. The Chargers are a bit more difficult to explain, from Philip Rivers playing like before 2011 again and Ryan Mathews finally fulfilling his potential. Maybe it was always about getting Norv Turner off the sidelines.