SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers must feel they’re living charmed lives these days.
How else to explain that everything they needed to have happen – and more – fell into place to allow them to sneak into the playoffs for the first time in four years?
It feels like this season is meant to be special, Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle said after another epic, heart-stopping win against the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24 in overtime on Sunday gave the Chargers the AFC’s final postseason spot. 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.
Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime to give San Diego its only lead of the day. The Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, then held the Chiefs on downs to win it after the Chiefs got into San Diego territory.
We didn’t play our best game, but teams that are playoff teams find a way to win when you don’t play your best, and that’s what we did today, quarterback Philip Rivers said after the Chargers (9-7) won their fourth straight and for the fifth time in six games.
They’ll play a wild-card game Sunday at AFC North champion Cincinnati, the last team to beat them, 17-10 at San Diego on Dec. 1.
The Chargers have needed help from other teams for weeks. Everything worked out for them on Sunday, but not before the Chargers and their fans had to squirm a bit.
Miami and Baltimore both lost, meaning San Diego could clinch the No. 6 seed with a win or tie.
The Chargers trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter against a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters, including Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith.
After San Diego tied it by scoring 10 points on consecutive possessions, Kansas City’s Ryan Succop was wide right on a potential game-winning, 41-yard field goal try with 4 seconds left in regulation.
The Chargers’ game-winning drive was kept alive by a 2-yard gain by Weddle on a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 28.
By having to settle for the field goal, the Chargers gave Kansas City another opportunity.
Chase Daniel, starting for Smith, moved the Chiefs to a first-and-10 on the Chargers 36. But Knile Davis lost 5 yards, Daniel threw three straight incomplete passes, and the game was over.