Chargers squeak by the Chiefs backups to clinch final playoff AFC spot

12/29/13 in NFL   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - Chargers squeak by the Chiefs backups to clinch final playoff AFC spotGoing into the day there was just one scenario that would get the 7-8 Pittsburgh Steelers into the playoffs. First, they had to beat the Browns. Not surprisingly, that was not an issue, as they cruised to a 20-7 victory. Then in the early games they need the Ravens and Dolphins to lose. The Dolphins never got anything going in a 20-7 to the Jets that may have helped Rex Ryan keep his job. The Ravens matched Andy Dalton's four interceptions with three from Joe Flacco to lose 34-17.

Thus, going into the late games, the only thing keeping the Steelers from the playoffs was the San Diego Chargers, who played at home against the Chiefs. The Chiefs, however, were resting almost every starter of consequence, which made sense for them as they were locked into the 5th seed. Piece of cake for the Chargers, right?

Well, not exactly, as Kansas City raced out a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game. The Chargers kept matching for a while, but at no point led the game in regulation, as their defense was taken apart by Chase Daniel and Knile Davis.

Going into the fourth, the Chiefs led 24-14. With 3:21 left, San Diego kicked a short field goal to tie it up, leaving plenty of time for the Chiefs. It looked like Kansas City was going to win and eliminate San Diego, until Ryan Succop missed from 41 yards. Overtime.

The Chargers won the toss and slowly marched down the field, aided by a strange yet ballsy fake punt deep in their own territory that worked. The long drive ended in a 36 yard field goal. The Chargers had their first lead of the game, but the Chiefs could still go down the field and score a touchdown to win. Kansas City got into Chargers territory, but the drive stalled, and on fourth down, Daniel forgot where the line of scrimmage was, ending the game.

So while it wasn't pretty, the Chargers move to 9-7 and win the last seed in the AFC, which no one seemed to want to win. Elsewhere, the Broncos destroyed Oakland to win home field, while the Patriots defeated the Bills to take the other bye. Cincinnati and Indianapolis both won to stay in the 3rd and 4th seeds. Thus, the AFC playoffs look like this:

Byes: (1) Denver, (2) New England

Wild Card Round:
(6) San Diego at (3) Cincinnati

(5) Kansas City at (4) Indianapolis
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