For a second, it appeared as though the San Diego Chargers had blown their golden opportunity to secure a playoff berth.
Needing a win against what was essentially the Kansas City Chiefs’ second-string team, the Chargers trailed for much of the second half. Yet, they came back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game with three minutes and 21 seconds left.
It looked like the comeback would be for naught, as the Bolts allowed the Chiefs to march upfield at the end of the fourth quarter. The Chargers caught a break, however, as Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal, sending the game into overtime.
From there, Philip Rivers took over. The Chargers quarterback led his team on a gritty, 62-yard drive that resulted in what would prove to be the game-winning field goal. He finished with three touchdown passes to give him 32 on the season, fourth in the NFL.
For the Chargers to even be in a position to earn a playoff berth was incredible. The Bolts needed the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens to each lose their final two regular-season games, on top of winning their final two games.
The Dolphins and Ravens each fell to begin the day, putting the Chargers’ destiny in their own hands. The win didn’t come easy, contrary to many people’s predictions, but a win is a win.
Many people were ready to pin the Chargers' failed playoff push on a three-game skid during the middle of the season that included an overtime loss to the lowly Washington Redskins. But San Diego ensured that conversation would be moot by pulling of the narrow, gritty win over the Chiefs.
From here, the Chargers travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in what figures to be a tough matchup. But San Diego has plenty of momentum, and the offense seems to be clicking. Rivers heads into the playoffs with a passer rating above 100 in three of his last four games.
Perhaps just as importantly, the Chargers rushing attack has been spot on as of late. With 473 rushing yards in his last four games, running back Ryan Mathews is one of the hottest running backs going into the playoffs.
Additionally, the Chargers have shown they have what it takes to beat the AFC's top teams this season, with two wins over the Chiefs and a win against the Broncos.
Whether that success can translate to the playoffs remains to be seen.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.