5 things to know after Chargers earn playoff spot

The San Diego Chargers are back in the playoffs after a

three-year drought.

Few people gave them a chance to get there when they were 5-7,

yet everything has fallen their way, even if it took them overtime

to beat short-handed Kansas City 27-24 on Sunday.

”It feels like this season is meant to be special,” Pro Bowl

safety Eric Weddle said after another epic, heart-stopping win

against the Chiefs 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 they 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 Chiefs (11-5) had nothing to play for, having already

clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed, so they chose to rest 20 of 22

starters. They go into the playoffs having lost five of seven and

play Saturday at AFC South champion Indianapolis, which won 23-7 in

Kansas City last week.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

HELP: The Chargers have needed help from other teams for two

weeks. Everything worked out for them again 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 against the Chiefs.

Surprisingly, the Chargers trailed by 10 points in the fourth

quarter. Still, they kept getting new chances. 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 got

another break when the Chiefs called heads on the overtime coin

toss, and it came up tails.

FAKE PUNT: The drive capped by Novak’s overtime field goal was

kept alive by a 2-yard gain by Weddle on a fake punt on

fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 28.

”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,” Weddle said. ”And we just got enough and I’m glad we

got it.”

THE COMEBACK: With the Chargers on the verge of an embarrassing

collapse against Kansas City’s backups, Rivers threw a 6-yard

touchdown pass to Eddie Royal early in the fourth quarter and Novak

kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie it with 3:21 left in

regulation

”What a wild ride, all 16 games and it comes down to the last

game,” Weddle said. ”A lot of people had us out but we stuck

together in the locker room. It’s the best team, morale,

togetherness, that I have ever been a part of. It didn’t look great

at times in that game and now we are in the tournament. We can’t

wait to go to Cincinnati.”

DAY OFF: Among the Chiefs sitting out were Pro Bowl running back

Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith.

”I look at the positive of it,” coach Andy Reid said of

resting most of his starters. ”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. You get to see, from a depth

perspective, that you’ve got some guys who can play and want to

compete.”

FIRST HALF: The Chiefs led 21-14 at halftime, getting touchdown

runs of 17 and 2 yards by Knile Davis and a 2-yard pass from Chase

Daniel to Dexter McCluster following an interception by Rivers.

San Diego scored on Rivers’ passes of 22 yards to Ladarius Green

and 4 yards to Antonio Gates.

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