Play Of The Game: Studebaker Recovers Fumble

From Arrowhead Stadium

QUARTER – 4th Quarter, 1:03 left on the clock

SCORE – Chiefs 20, Chargers 20

DOWN & DISTANCE – 1st-and-10, from the Chiefs 15-yard line

DEFENSIVE SET – Sub-package that was a combination of short-yardage defense and the nickel, a 4-3-4 set.

OFFENSIVE SET – Two tight ends, two backs, a running formation.

The feeling in the Chiefs defensive huddle was a mix of desperation, frustration and hope.

“Andy (Studebaker) was in there yelling that we had to do something, we had to change the game,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “Nobody had given up, but looking at the situation …”

What Johnson left unsaid was that there was also a feeling of doom. After leading for most of the game, they had allowed San Diego to come back and score a touchdown and a two-point conversion play, make the scoreboard 20-20.

The Chargers had stopped the Chiefs again and the offense led by QB Philip Rivers was moving the ball down the field. One first down, two first downs, three first downs in eight plays San Diego had the ball at the Chiefs 15-yard line with just over a minute to play and a first down.

With the Chiefs out of timeouts, Rivers just wanted to run clock and set up the spot for a winning field goal from K Nick Novak.

“You’re a minute away from just milking the clock and kicking a field goal to end it,” said Rivers.

The situation was grim, but hope was not lost.

“Obviously you get discouraged when it looks like the game might e over and you don’t have any timeouts left and it looks like they’re running the clock down and it’s third and one,” Studebaker said.

“But that’s why you keep playing.”

The shape of the football leads to all sorts of funny bounces and when Rivers took the snap from center Nick Hardwick, it bounced off his left hand and landed on the ground. DE Glenn Dorsey had a shot at the ball, but Rivers appeared to dig in under Hardwick’s legs and corral the ball.

That’s when Studebaker suddenly comes into the picture, coming around from the backside.

“I just saw the ball loose,” Studebaker said. “I just got into the pile and when I finally got my hands on the ball … you just grab the ball and hold on for dear life.

“One of my teammates (Reshard Langford) pulled me out of the pile once he saw I had the ball.”

It was one of those plays that will be talked about for years, where ultimate victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. Or, in the case of the Chargers the reverse of that, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But it happened because the Chiefs did not give up.

“We were in the huddle saying no matter how much time is left, you don’t quit just because it looks ugly,” Studebaker said. “If you quit when things look ugly you miss out on an opportunity to do something special.”

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