Broncos-Chargers Week 17 Rematch: Bring Back Ed Hochuli?

Ling GeCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2008

Four weeks ago, Denver Broncos had a hammerlock on the AFC West Division over the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers fell to 4-8 when they lost at home to the Falcons, while the Broncos had a a 7-5 record with a convincing road win over the Jets. It appeared all but over for the star-studded Chargers, trailing by three games with four to play.

Fast forward four weeks, and you'll find the Chargers surging with three consecutive wins, including an impressive road victory over the Buccaneers, while the Broncos are on the verge of a monumental collapse after losing to the Bills.

It comes down to one game that determines who wins the AFC West and a playoff birth.

But Bronco fans should thank referee Ed Hochuli for giving Denver the chance.

In a final regular season game of epic proportions, Charger fans can only magnify the blown call my Hochuli in Week Two, when the Chargers visited the Broncos.

With the Broncos trailing, 38-31, they drove the ball to the Charger 1-yard line. On second-down, Jay Cutler dropped back and scrambled to throw, but he fumbled the ball when it slipped out of his hand at the 10-yard line. Hochuli blew his whistle to signal an incompletion, which he admitted immediately it was a significant mistake.

Two plays later, Cutler threw hit Eddie Royal to pull the Broncos within 38-37. Cutler then hit Royal on a two-point conversion to give them a 39-38 lead.

Ballgame, Broncos.

The Chargers were understandably livid at Hochuli, despite him crucifying himself for the play call. The former Super Bowl ref was scrutinized for the rest of the NFL season.

Of course, it was only Week Two, and it was just one game. Now that one game is amounting to one season. Had that call not have been made, the Chargers would be holding the division and a playoff spot.

After that, the Chargers' season seemed to be defined by tough breaks and heartbreaking losses.

After starting out 3-3, they proceeded to lose their next five of six games by a combined 24 points. The lone victory came when the Chiefs lost on a failed two-point conversion.

The Broncos were only 6-5 after that win, but it was enough to push them to 8-5, needing only one win to clinch the division.

Now Philip Rivers, LT, and the Chargers are playing with confidence, and with some luck finally going their way. Three straight victories included strong wins over the Raiders and Bucs, while a lucky bounce on an onside kick aided the Chargers to a win over the Chiefs again.

The Broncos are choking to the finish line, getting crushed in Carolina, and losing to the Bills after leading, 13-0, in the first half.

We can only imagine what might've happened had Hochuli made the proper call. But now it comes down to the final week of the regular season, any fan's dream unless you're from Denver.

Maybe the Chargers should bring back Ed Hochuli and ask him to return the favor. But in any case, it doesn't get better than this.

Week 17: (8-7) Denver Broncos vs. (7-8) San Diego Chargers.