Perhaps it's only fitting that in a season marred by terrible officiating, a key Week 17 game with playoff implications was marred by -- you guessed it -- terrible officiating.
Of course, in this case, if Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop had made the game-winning 41-yard field goal with eight seconds left, the officiating gaffe would have been overlooked. Instead, Succop honked the attempt and the Chargers went on to win in overtime, earning the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
Last offseason, the NFL's competition committee put in place a new rule that allows no more than six defenders on either side of the snapper during a field-goal attempt. As you can see in the screen grab above, the Chargers had seven players on one side of the snapper, which should have been a 5-yard penalty and retry on the kick if needed.
Former VP of officials Mike Pereira confirmed as much shortly after the game.
Hate to add full to the fire, but some of my followers have pointed out that SD was in an illegal defensive formation on the missed FG— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) December 30, 2013
They are correct. SD had more than 6 players on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage. That is a new rule and a foul.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) December 30, 2013
So, yes, Bill Leavy's crew missed the call. But it didn't affect the Chiefs' postseason plans; they were locked into the fifth seed heading into Sunday's game, which is why coach Andy Reid played his backups. And while Succop would have preferred to convert the attempt, the real losers in all of this are the Steelers.
If Succop converts, the Steelers -- instead of the Chargers -- earn the AFC's sixth seed. Or, if Succop misses, the Chargers are penalized, and the retry is from the 36, it's reasonable to think that Succop would make that.
But here's the thing: If the Steelers didn't want their playoff fate in the hands of the Chiefs' kicker, they should have beaten the Vikings or the Raiders when they had the chance.