The fate of the AFC could have been hanging in the balance Thursday night … and here comes the clown car.
The Chargers’ 29-28 win over the Chiefs was in part determined by several dubious calls on Los Angeles’ final drive. The Chargers were driving down the field, trailing 28-21 in the final minute when quarterback Philip Rivers scrambled to the left.
The 37-year-old Rivers evaded Justin Houston, but there was little room to run and he slid down. When he did, he was clearly met with a helmet-to-helmet hit by Dorian O’Daniel at Kansas City’s 10-yard-line. Rivers popped up, furious with the refs as time ticked from 30 seconds all the way down to 13 before the Chargers realized they needed to take their final time out.
“He’s got a knee down on the ground, so as a player on the ground, he is defenseless and gets that protection,” former ref Mike Pereira explained in the Fox booth.
On the very next play, Rivers looked for Mike Williams in the end zone, but overthrew him. Williams reached for the ball with his right hand, while his left hand was grazed by cornerback Kendall Fuller. Out came the flag for defensive pass interference, which set the Chargers’ first-and-goal on the 1.
On the very next play, Rivers threw to Williams again, with the receiver pulling it in this time. But again there was controversy. It appeared Williams pushed off on cornerback Orlando Scandrick and then bobbled as he tried to get both feet in bounds.
These calls could have gone either way, but the refs had already sown so much doubt in any fan’s mind, who could possibly trust that they made the right decision? Thankfully, the game-winning two-point conversion was to a wide-open Williams and no one could have screwed up that call.
The shoddy officiating, though, did overshadow a critical game in the AFC playoff picture as both teams are 11-3 and have the best records in the AFC West and in the entire conference.