Call it a 'Mission Bay Miracle' as Chargers reach playoffs

San Diego culminates unlikely run to playoffs with overtime win over Chiefs and losses by Ravens, Dolphins. Eagles, Packers also get in.

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Welcome to Stunned Diego.

Not even the most optimistic of Chargers could have realistically predicted what unfolded Sunday, the final day of the NFL regular season, when left-for-dead San Diego somehow found its way into the playoffs.

A month ago, the Chargers were 5-7 and roundly written off. Then came a four-game winning streak culminated by a season sweep of the Chiefs.

"It's been an unreal ride this year," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said in a postgame interview with CBS, his voice cracking. "We haven't been in the postseason in a long time. It's awesome to find a way to get in. . . . Percentage-wise, we went and did the math, we were under a 1% chance two weeks ago. And we're in."

The Chargers will play at Cincinnati on Sunday. The first AFC game is Saturday when Indianapolis plays host to Kansas City.

In the NFC, New Orleans plays at Philadelphia on Saturday night, and San Francisco plays at Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.

The Packers and Eagles qualified with division title-clinching victories in win-or-go-home games Sunday.

Three of the four first-round pairings are rematches, with only the Saints and Eagles squaring off against each other for the first time this season.

The Saints-Eagles game features quarterbacks Drew Brees of New Orleans and Nick Foles of Philadelphia.

Astoundingly, both Brees and Foles attended the same high school, Westlake High in Austin, Texas.

As for the Chargers, everything broke in their direction Sunday, as they got essential losses by Baltimore and Miami that set up a win-and-they're-in scenario against Kansas City.

Rivers conceded the Chargers kept the locker room TVs on longer than usual before their game, so by kickoff they knew the stakes had gotten significantly higher.

"We knew," he said. "And then we shifted our focus to say, 'Hey, look, now we've got to do our part.' We didn't do our part for three and a half quarters, but we did what he had to do to win."

Even though Kansas City rested its star players — among them quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles — the Chargers struggled mightily. They almost lost at the end of regulation on a Ryan Succop field-goal attempt, but the kick from 41 yards sailed wide right.

That was a bitter outcome for Pittsburgh, which would have gotten that No. 6 seed had San Diego lost.

In overtime, the Chargers kept their opening drive alive with a fake punt, and capped it with a 36-yard field goal by Nick Novak. Then it was up to San Diego's defense to slam the door. The Chiefs crossed midfield but wound up turning the ball over on downs, ending the game.

"It feels like this season is meant to be special," Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. "Whether it happens or not, we'll read that story at the end. But we're in, and no one really thought that could happen."

And this curious stat could be an omen: The last four Super Bowl champions played at Philadelphia in the Eagles' home opener — New Orleans, Green Bay, the New York Giants and Baltimore.

Whom did the Eagles play in their home opener this season?

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