"Are you kidding me?"
These were just some of the surprising statements made by the Monday Night Football announcers as they tried to describe the situation that unfolded on the field on October 31, 2011. The San Diego Chargers were visiting the Kansas City Chiefs in a primetime game, mired in a season in which the AFC West was completely up for grabs. The Denver Broncos won the division at 8-8, but here are the final standings:
So clearly every game was important, especially a divisional rivalry like this one. The Chargers were in complete control down the stretch. After taking the lead in the fourth quarter, 20-12, on a goal-line touchdown from Jackie Battle, Philip Rivers had marched the San Diego offense down the field in response to tie the game, anchored by a Curtis Brinkley two-yard touchdown run.
Then we enter the game's most memorable moment. Well, before another pivotal moment. The Chargers are marching down the field, all the way to the Kansas City 16-yard line. There's just over one minute on the clock. The game is essentially over, since the Chargers only need a chip shot of a field goal from Nick Novak, who'd already hit four previous field goals that evening at Arrowhead. The Chargers line up, let the clock run down to 1:03 and then this happens:
Unbelievable is right. Rivers never gets a clean grasp of the ball and Andy Studebaker emerges from the pile with a miracle. It's the sort of gut-wrenching, heartbreaking play that Chiefs fans will remember well from earlier this year, when a last-minute, no-way-that-really-happened Jamaal Charles fumble cost them a loss to the Denver Broncos.
Unfortunately, with so little time and with Matt Cassel at quarterback, the magic didn't last long -- at least in the fourth quarter. Five plays later, Cassel throws an interception to Eric Weddle to end any thought of a last-minute field goal.
In the end, the Chiefs came away with a victory in overtime thanks to an long drive that started at the KC 19-yard line and ended with a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Succop. Heroes like Dexter McCluster, Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston and Jackie Battle provided the offense on that drive, which shows you just how amazing it was that the Chiefs even stayed within a single game of the AFC West lead that season.
For Chargers fans, it was a night to forget en route to a season that was up for grabs for any team who could have eked out just one more win.