Here is the most ridiculous sentence I have written all year:

The San Diego Chargers qualified for the playoffs.

It didn’t seem like a very realistic possibility four short weeks ago and still was pretty slim entering Sunday’s final day of the regular season.

The Chargers needed the Miami Dolphins to lose – CHECK.

They also needed the Baltimore Ravens to lose – CHECK.

And they had to defeat the 11-win Kansas City Chiefs for a second time – CHECK.

With all three things going their way – winning their own game proved tougher than watching the other two teams lose – the Chargers are the AFC’s sixth seed and will visit the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.

San Diego sure didn’t do things the easy way in the 27-24 overtime win against the Chiefs, who rested four Pro Bowl players in running back Jamaal Charles, offensive tackle Branden Albert, nose tackle Dontari Poe and linebacker Tamba Hali as well as holding out quarterback Alex Smith, receiver Dwayne Bowe and veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson.

Kansas City’s on-field squad was dubbed the Chiefs JV on social-media sites and the reserves carried the flow for much of the game and held a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Then Philip Rivers tossed a touchdown pass to Eddie Royal and Nick Novak booted a tying field goal.

But the playoffs were about to bid adieu to the Chargers again in the final seconds until Kansas City’s normally reliable Ryan Succop was wide right from 41 yards out with four seconds remaining, a miss that would cause Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans to cry as well as keeping San Diego’s playoff hopes alive.

The Chargers finally won the game in overtime to close a frantic four-week stretch where one misstep would’ve assured they spent the postseason in their usual role as spectators.

Pretty solid job by first-year coach Mike McCoy to get the squad into the playoffs after the Chargers sat home in each of Norv Turner’s final three seasons as head coach.

And who’s to say the Chargers don’t win the playoff matchup with the Bengals? Sure, Cincinnati handed San Diego its last defeat of the season – in Qualcomm Stadium, no less – but the Bengals last playoff victory came 24 seasons ago against the Houston Oilers.

You may remember the Oilers – they departed Houston 17 years ago for Nashville.

So there’s definitely more pressure on the Bengals next weekend than the Chargers. After all, it looked like San Diego would be on the outside looking in – until the franchise posted one very un-Charger-like victory to land the final playoff spot.

And trust me – I never, ever expected to write a sentence that included a reference to the Chargers qualifying for the playoffs this season.

But that ridiculous thought is now fact.


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