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Chargers Strike Back in OT, Clinch Playoff Spot

Posted Dec 29, 2013

Photo Gallery: Chiefs vs. Chargers | Charger Girls | More Photos

The Chargers won the opening toss and opted to defer.  With Chase Daniel quarterbacking the visitors, he connected with A.J. Jenkins early down to the Chargers 17-yard line. On the next play, Knile Davis ran it into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead over San Diego.   With the ball for the first time, Ryan Mathews churned out a monster 44-yard gain where he ran over and through defenders down to the KC 28-yard line.  Three plays later on 3rd-and-4, Philip Rivers dropped back and threw a perfect rainbow to Ladarius Green at the left near pylon to knot the score up at 7-7.   The drive went 78 yards, five plays in 2:26.   After a five yard scamper by Daniel, Corey Liuget stepped up and knocked the quarterback back for a six yard sack.  On the next play Eric Weddle stopped Cyrus Grain for no gain and a punt.  After Rivers was sacked for an eight-yard loss on the first snap of the next drive, he was intercepted by Ron Parker looking for Keenan Allen, who returned it back to the Chargers 23-yard line.  The Bolts forced a 3rd-and-7 that Junior Hemingway ran down to the nine for a first-and-goal for Kansas City. After an offsides penalty, the Chiefs had 3rd down from the two yard line and punched it in on a quick pass to Dexter McCluster. Down 14-7, the Chargers faced a 3rd-and-7 and Keenan Allen came up clutch with a 25 yard reception.  Two plays later, Eddie Royal caught a quick smoke pass 30 yards to the 20-yard line. Runs by Mathews and Danny Woodhead made it first-and-goal from the 10. The team faced 3rd-and-goal from the four as the first quarter came to a close.

The Bolts tied the game 14-14 right away as Rivers hit Antonio Gates for the 60th time in their careers.   The score capped  a 10 play, 80-yard drive spanning 5:11.  Kansas City converted yet another third down on a quick strike to McCluster that went for nine yards to the KC 39-yard line.  A 14-yard strike to Jenkins put the visitors into San Diego territory, but three plays later on 3rd-and-4, the Chargers snuffed out a screen pass to force fourth down and a punt that went into the end zone for a touchback. On third and less than a yard, Le’Ron McClain took a quick handoff for three yards.  Faced with another third down, this time needing six yards, Rivers looked for Allen but came up empty and Mike Scifres booted a 50-yard punt to the Chiefs 14- yard line.  Cam Thomas burst through the line to stuff Davis four yards in the backfield on first down.  However, on 3rd-and-5, Daniel evaded the rush and ran 29 yards to midfield.  Another quarterback scramble moved them into Chargers territory, a Davis run put them at the 24-yard line and at the two-minute warming they had 1st-and-10 at the 13-yard line.  Eventually, Davis found paydirt for a second time on the afternoon on a two-yard run for a 21-14 lead.  With 1:07 to work with, the Bolts went three-and-out and punted to the Chiefs with 40 seconds remaining in the half.  The Chiefs ran one play then entered half time with the lead.

The third quarter started with three consecutive three-and-outs, and McCluster returned the ensuing punt 39 yards to the Chargers 35-yard line. It looked like the Bolts were going to force a long field goal attempt, but Shareece Wright was flagged for an illegal contact penalty to give the Chiefs new life.  On 3rd-and-10, Hemingway caught a deflected pass for a one-yard gain. Ryan Succop then connected on a 46-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 10 point lead, 24-14. After Rivers was sacked on first down, he connected with Gates for 16 yards on 3rd-and-13.  However, they weren’t able to keep the chains moving and Scifres came out and boomed a 52-yard punt to the Kansas City nine yard line.  After it looked like Daniel was wrapped up for a sack, he managed to wiggle free and picked up a first down.  Three plays later on 3rd-and-10, Kendall Reyes charged in and sacked Daniel to get the ball back to the offense.  Starting their next drive at their own 31, Woodhead converted a 3rd-and-3 and the teams headed into the final quarter with San Diego trailing by 10. 

An end-around to Royal on the first play of the fourth put the Bolts in KC territory, and a strong run by Mathews got them to the 15.    A first down via penalty made it first and goal from the eight, and two plays later, Rivers hit Royal for a touchdown to narrow the Chiefs lead to 24-21. On 3rd-and-5, Daniel rolled right and hit Hemingway for just enough yards for the first down.  A run stuff by Manti Te'o and a smart play by Marcus Gilchrist made it 3rd-and-16, and the Bolts held firm to force a punt.  A screen to Woodhead picked up nine yards and Mathews hammered it another seven for the first down.  Three plays later on 3rd-and-2 Keenan Allen took a short pass 38 yards to the eight yard line.  Faced with a 3rd-and-4, Rivers rolled right but was forced to throw it away.  Nick Novak came on and kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie the game. The Chiefs offense was being held back in their own territory until Daniel hit Hemingway for a 24-yard pass putting them into Chargers territory right before the two minute warning. The Chargers had to use their final timeout to stop the clock with 1:35 remaining.  The Chiefs run the ball on the next two plays taking the clock down to 6 seconds and set themselves up for a 41-yard field goal which was no good. Rivers took a knee and effectively sent the game into overtime.

The Chargers won the toss and elected to receive. An offensive holding penalty pushed the Chargers back deep in their territory and they were unable to recover and pick up a first down.  On fourth down , Scifres came on the field and ran a fake punt to Eric Weddle who picked up a first down and brought the Chargers offense back onto the field. Ryan Mathews bulled his way for two big pick ups of 10 and 14 yards pushing the Chargers into Chiefs territory. Rivers then completed two short passes to Woodhead and Royal putting them at the Chiefs 21-yard line. Faced with 3rd-and-3 the Chargers failed to pick up a first down.  Nick Novak came on to boot a 36-yard field goal straight thru the uprights putting the Chargers up by 3 and making it 27-24 in overtime. The Chiefs offense drove down field into Chargers territory but faced with 4th-and-15 was not able to pick up a first down which effectively gave the Chargers the victory in overtime.

Turning Point

It looked like the Chargers season was coming to an end as Ryan Succop lined up a game-winning 41-yard field goal in the final seconds. So reliable on th eseason, thankfully this attempt went wide right.  The miss gave new life to the Bolts and they responded by gutting out the overtime win.

It was Over When…

On 4th-and-15, Chase Daniel was flushed to his right.  Under pressure, he stepped past the line of scrimmage and looked for A.J. Jenkins.  The ball fell incomplete with the Chargers declining the illegal pass penalty, punching their way into the playoffs. 

Play of the Game

Early in overtime, the Chargers pulled off one of the gutsiest play calls in franchise history.  On 4th-and-2 from their own 28-yard line, Eric Weddle audibled into a fake punt.  He took the snap and ran straight up the gut getting just enough yards for the first down to the delight, and surprise, of the crowd.

Stat of the Game

For the first time since 2009, the Chargers are in the playoffs!

Bolt Quotebook

“One thing that I’ll say about this team and I’ve said it from day one, the coaches included, and it starts with Dean Spanos at the top; the character of this organization and the players we have here never gave up.  We just kept on fighting and we believed in what we were going to do.  How it was going to turn out, I never would have scripted it that way to be perfectly honest.   But I’ll take a win any way we can get it.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy

“It’s huge.  It’s been a tough year.  We had to catch some breaks and have things fall our way.  For us to take care of our business at the end is big and it is awesome to be playing like that.  There is nothing better in life than a playoff football game.  It is so fun to be a part of.  We need to go win this one.” – Center Nick Hardwick

“There is love everywhere.  It’s unbelievable.  To have the opportunity to go to the playoffs is exciting.  Enjoy it for 24 hours then we have to get back to work.  We have to go in there with a mindset now.” – Tackle D.J. Fluker

“(The crowd) was great, they were loud and amazing.  It was awesome to hear the crowd shouting ‘defense’ to a point where you can’t hear yourself talk or even the person right next to you.” – Running Back Ryan Mathews

“Since Day one, through training camp, OTA’s and everything, Coach McCoy always preached ‘finish.’  Finish, finish, finish. No matter what, finish.  And if you finish, results like this happen.  No matter what the outcome might be, finish.  And when you finish, you never know what could happen.  And we finished.” – Defensive Tackle Cam Thomas

Odds and Ends

Philip Rivers finished the game 22-of-33 for 229 yards three touchdowns and one interception for a 104.2 passer rating.

Ryan Mathews led all the way with 144 yards on 24 attempts, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He ends the year 1,255 yards, the eighth best mark in franchise history.

Nick Novak hit two field goals today, including the 36-yard game-winner in overtime. They were his 33rd and 34th field goals of the season, tying John Carney’s single season record set during the Chargers’ lone Super Bowl season in 1994.

Danny Woodhead had a game-high seven catches while Keenan Allen had a game-high 89 yards.

Keenan Allen set a franchise rookie record for receiving yards with 1,046.

Eddie Royal caught the Chargers’ final touchdown pass of the game today, his career-high eighth touchdown catch of the season.

Eric Weddle led all tacklers with 12 while Donald Butler and Manti Te’o each had 10. 

The Chargers outgained the Chiefs 404 yards to 332. They outgained them on the ground 186 to 143, and in the air 229 to 200.

Inactives for the Chargers include: Brad Sorensen, Lavelle Hawkins, Brandon Taylor, Marcus Cromartie, Kenny Wiggins, Steve Schilling and Kwame Geathers.

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