The San Diego Chargers punched their ticket to the playoffs Sunday after losses by the Ravens and Dolphins and their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but a closer look at a play late in their game shows they probably shouldn’t have gotten the win, or the playoff berth, after all. The Chiefs had the opportunity to win the game on a last-second Ryan Succop 41 yard field goal attempt, but Succop missed for just the sixth time of the season, and the Chargers ended up winning the game in overtime. A closer look at the field goal attempt shows that San Diego had eight players on the left side of the Chiefs’ line, one more than recent NFL rule changes allow. Had the penalty been called, Succop would have been given another chance, this time from 36 yards out; a field goal he more than likely wouldn’t have missed.
Here’s a clip from last night’s SNF on NBC pregame further explaining what happened:
Even if the Chiefs had won the game, they’d still be the 5th seed going to Indianapolis next week, so the blown call doesn’t mean much to them. However, this mistake was a huge blow to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who would have clinched the 6th seed if the Chiefs had beaten the Chargers. The NFL acknowledged the officiating error Sunday evening, and has to only make Steelers fans feel worse. It was bad enough watching their playoff hopes sail wide right off the foot of Ryan Succop, but the fact that Succop could have, and should have, had another chance to oust the Chargers and send the Steelers to Cincinnati next weekend leaves sting of playoff elimination that much worse.
Pittsburgh finished the season hot- which they had to after starting the season 0-4- and could have been pretty dangerous in the playoffs. The Kansas City/San Diego game really never should have been close, because Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid rested 20 of his 22 starters, further strengthening the argument that San Diego doesn’t deserve to be playing next week. In the San Diego’s defense, the Chargers have three wins over AFC playoff teams including the Broncos and Chiefs (even when they had all their starters, 41-38, Week 12). Also to San Diego’s credit, Phillip Rivers has had a great season bouncing back from a mediocre-at-best 2012 campaign. Luckily for the Chargers- and equally unlucky for the Steelers- what’s done is done and San Diego will be preparing for a playoff game this week as Pittsburgh players pack up their lockers and head home for the offseason.
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