Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha, Staying Alive, Staying Alive

The San Diego Chargers staved off elimination for another week by digging out of an 18-point hole to topple the Kansas City Chiefs, 22-21. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place later in the day when the Carolina Panthers steamrolled the Denver Broncos, 30-10. Just like that, San Diego's seemingly impossible quest became a little more plausible.

San Diego's playoff hopes seemed all but snuffed out when Philip Rivers was intercepted by CB Patrick Surtain on the Chargers first drive of the second half. Surtain returned the ball to the San Diego 3-yard line and Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen ran it in one play later to give Kansas City a 21-3 lead.

However, Rivers and the Chargers both rallied. San Diego responded to the turnover on its next possession with a 10-play scoring drive, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by LaDainian Tomlinson.

The offense then went stagnant as the Chargers next three possessions proved fruitless. Luckily, the San Diego defense rose to the occasion as the Chiefs went four consecutive drives without picking up more than one first down.

At the end of that fourth drive, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt pinned San Diego back to its 11-yard line. At the time, the Chargers were trailing, 21-10, with 4:55 to play.

"We have guys that are a confident group and just kept fighting," Coach Norv Turner said. "We felt we could win the game."

Rivers and Tomlinson
Harry How/Getty

Rivers took over the game from there. He led the team on a 15-play scoring drive that took only 3:42 off the clock. Rivers was 11-for-14 on the drive with his favorite target being Malcom Floyd. Floyd caught five passes for 67 on the drive, including the 4-yard TD that cut the lead to 22-16 with 1:13 to play.

Next came the onside kick by Mike Scifres. Once Dwayne Bowe put the ball on the ground and Kassim Osgood gobbled up the fumble recovery, the Chargers knew they were in business.

"I was extremely excited, especially when we got the onside recovery, because I know our offense," said cornerback Cletis Gordon in an exclusive post-game Q&A. "We had three timeouts and our offense was waiting to explode."

From there, the Chargers took only four plays and 37 seconds to drive in for the game-winning score. Vincent Jackson was the star of the final drive, hauling in a 42-yard reception and cashing in with a 10-yard TD on third-and-1.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the praise goes to Rivers, who completed 34-of-48 passes for 346 yards, his highest yardage total since Week 2 against the Denver Broncos. If Rivers can average 243 yards per game over the next two contests, he'll earn the first 4,000-yard season of his career.

The loss was a heartbreaker for the Chiefs, who were swept by the Chargers for the first time since 2004. Both losses came by a single point, which isn't exactly newsworthy. The Chargers and Chiefs have now played in 12 one-point games in their history, the most between any two teams in the NFL.

"You have to give San Diego credit," Chiefs Coach Herm Edwards said. "They stayed in the game and made the plays at the end of the game to win the game."

The Chargers survive to see another week on the edge. If San Diego travels east and defeats the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills migrate west and buck the Broncos, the Chargers will control their own destiny heading into the season finale.

And if either of those events fails to happen, at least the rally in Kansas City will give the Chargers a pleasant memory by which to remember the 2008 season.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

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