Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!
Sunday is setting up to be the biggest day for San Diego sports fans in several years.
First, the Chargers will play the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs. It will be the first Chargers playoff game in four years, and the first Chargers playoff game with a head coach who’s not Norv Turner in seven years. If the Chargers can find a way to win, they get to go back to Denver, where they beat the Broncos on Dec. 12.
Despite being the last seed in the AFC, San Diego fields a team nobody wants to play against right now. They’ve won their last four games, and five of their last six, and can be considered the most dangerous team in the playoffs this year.
Right around the time the Chargers are wrapping that game up, the San Diego Sockers will be in Tijuana, taking on the Toros de Mexico.
Later in the day, San Diego State will face off against the Kansas Jayhawks. Not only will a road win against the 16th-ranked Jayhawks earn the Aztecs more respect from the best teams in the country, it could be the last real threat standing between SDSU and a 29-1 record at the end of the season. While the Mountain West isn’t a walk in the park, there are no teams in the conference as good as Kansas. That makes this the toughest game left on the schedule for Steve Fisher’s team.
It won’t be an easy path, warns Mark Zeigler, because the Mountain West is doing the Aztecs no favors with a harrowing schedule leading up to this marquee game.
You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.
Chiefs at Chargers: The Win That Almost Wasn’t
The Chargers knew, heading into the final week of the season, that they needed a lot of help to get into the playoffs. In addition to beating the Chiefs, San Diego would need the Bengals to defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and for the underdog New York Jets to beat the Miami Dolphins on the road.
Warming up on the field before the game, the players watched the Bengals crush the Ravens and the Jets pull out the improbable upset. The players hooted and hollered, knowing that the Chiefs wouldn’t put up much of a fight …
What happened next was almost the worst story in San Diego sports history. With all of the Kansas City starters on the bench, San Diego should’ve lost the game. The Chargers defense couldn’t slow down Chase Daniel or Knile Davis, and the offense couldn’t get going until late in the game. It all seemed doomed until, somehow, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard kick that would’ve won the game for Kansas City. San Diego had new life, the game headed into overtime, and the rest was history.
Eric Weddle was the game’s hero, turning a failed third-down conversion in overtime into momentum and a loud stadium when he decided to call for the fake punt and run for the first down himself. It may not have been the right call, but it was the call that worked for that moment.
Chargers at Bengals: A Sign of Future Success?
In Turner’s final season, the Chargers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third straight year. In Mike McCoy’s first season, the Chargers finished 9-7 and made the playoffs. Does this mean that McCoy’s first season can be ruled a “success”? Well, yes, but it wasn’t a season without mistakes. It’s a great start to his career with the Chargers, but McCoy will need to learn from those mistakes if he wants the team to consistently make it to the playoffs.
That being said, Chargers fans might consider building McCoy a statue if his team can get a win in Cincinnati on Sunday. Despite Andy Dalton’s inaccuracy, which led to four interceptions last week, the Chargers are the less talented team in this match-up. The Bengals’ defensive line is a little bit better than the Chargers’ offensive line, and the Cincinnati secondary should be able to contain the San Diego wide receivers.
How might the Chargers get a win in Cincinnati, where the weather is expected to be a mix of snow, sleet and rain? The answer is as easy as counting to 30. At the very least, the temperature won’t be as cold as it was during the famed “Freezer Bowl” between the Chargers and Bengals in the 1981 AFC championship game.
Stories You May Have Missed
• Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who has been a vocal advocate for same-sex marriage in Minnesota, wrote about the brutal criticism he faced when he took up the cause.
• Jovan Belcher, the Chiefs linebacker who killed his girlfriend before killing himself last year, was a victim of post-concussion syndrome, according to his mother. How many more people have to die before the NFL has to answer for the deaths?
• Maybe the NFL’s growth bubble is finally about to pop. The fact that 75 percent of playoff games this weekend are facing local TV blackouts can’t possibly be a good sign.
• GIF of the Week: I don’t know about you, but I will be watching everything that Johnny Manziel does over the next few years in hopes that he can be half as entertaining in the NFL as he has been in college. Here is just one of his insane plays from Wednesday’s comeback victory over Duke.
(Want to recommend this sports newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.)
I’m John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @john_gennaro or e-mail me directly at email@example.com.
Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.