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Chargers slip into postseason with OT win

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- It was among the biggest hits the day, and it came from the back side, though a flag wasn't thrown.

San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy plowed into team president Dean Spanos with a blindside bear hug Sunday, but no one was complaining.

"I'm fine," Spanos said after the absorbing the postgame jolt.

Is he ever.

Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 remaining in overtime, lifting the Chargers to a 27-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and into the postseason.

Kansas City quarterback Chase Daniel threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-15 on the Chiefs' overtime possession, sealing San Diego's win.

Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation.

All that was missing from San Diego's giddy locker room was confetti. The Chargers stormed into the playoffs by winning four straight and five of their final six games.

"We just kept fighting, and we believed in what we were going to do and how it was going to turn out," said McCoy, who ended the Chargers' three-year playoff drought in his rookie season. "I would have never scripted it that way, to be perfectly honest with you. It was do or die, and guys have to step up and make plays.

"That was a huge stand by the defense at the end of the game."

A massive gamble by the Chargers set up the winning field goal. On fourth-and-2 at the San Diego 28, Chargers up-back Eric Weddle called a fake punt and rushed for 2 yards for the first down.

"(McCoy) gives me the opportunity to call those things when I see them," Weddle said. "I was looking to see whether the corners were going to come in at all -- they did earlier in the game -- and they didn't.

"I just felt we could get 2 yards as a punt team with me running the ball, and if we are going to go down, let's go down doing what we do best, and that is being aggressive and fighting to the end.

"It probably wasn't the best field-position time for me to call, it but I went with it and it worked out. If it didn't, it wouldn't be a good time for me right now, to lose the game."

The Chargers (9-7) had momentum even before kickoff. With the Baltimore Ravens losing to the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets upending the Miami Dolphins, all the Chargers needed was a victory to earn the AFC's No. 6 playoff seed. San Diego prevailed, earning a postseason date next Sunday in Cincinnati.

A junior varsity version of the Chiefs (11-5) managed to stay close even though 20 of the 22 regular starters didn't start. Kansas City, the AFC's fifth seed, plays at the fourth-seeded Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

"I look at the positive of it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "We got a lot of guys in to get practice with the game plan if we do meet up with San Diego again. And the guys came out and played, I think that's the positive part of it. You get to see, from a depth perspective, that you've got some guys who can play and want to compete."

San Diego running back Ryan Mathews gained 144 yards on 24 carries. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 22 of 33 passes for 229 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted once.

"It feels like we haven't won a game like this forever," Rivers said. "Missed field goal, down 10, all the circumstances, everything fell in our lap and we almost let it get away from us."

From the onset, it was obvious whatever boost the Chargers received from the results around the league didn't prompt the Chiefs to roll over.

Daniel finished 21-for-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City running back Knile Davis netted 81 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

"I came out with that mindset that I had a huge chip on my shoulder," Davis said.

The Chargers tied the score, 27-27, on Novak's 22-yard field goal with three minutes to play. San Diego pulled to within 24-21 on Rivers' fourth-quarter, 6-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Eddie Royal.

Kansas City took a 10-point lead in the third quarter when Succop booted a 46-yard field goal.

"We did have to overcome some adversity, make a late charge at the end and have some things go our way," Chargers center Nick Hardwick said. "I would say this game was kind of a microcosm of the season."

The season is not over yet, for either team, and maybe they will meet again. The Chargers and Chiefs join the Denver Broncos to make the AFC West the NFL's lone division with a trio of squads postseason-bound.

"We would've liked to have come out on the positive side there, but we came out on the short end," Reid said. "Now there will be three AFC West teams in the playoffs, so that's positive."

NOTES: The Chargers will face the NFC West next season in the schedule rotation. They had the good fortune of playing the NFC East this year, winning three of four games, falling only to the Washington Redskins. ... The Chargers had one local TV blackout this season. Last year, they had four home games not televised. ... According to reports, the Houston Texans are interested in interviewing Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for their head-coach opening. ... The Chiefs completed the greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Kansas City went 2-14 last season. ... Chiefs coach Andy Reid, in his first year with Kansas City, is heading to the playoffs for the 10th time in 15 seasons.
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