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Saturday, March 22, 2014
No. 1 impact play: Weddle's fake punt

By Eric D. Williams

In this series, we count down the top 10 impact plays for the San Diego Chargers that helped shape the team’s 2013 postseason run.

Weddle
Situation: Fourth-and-2 from San Diego’s 28-yard line.

Score: Chargers and Chiefs tied 24-24 in overtime of a Week 17 contest at Qualcomm Stadium.

Time: Twelve minutes, 58 seconds left in overtime.

Williams’ take: Some league observers point to Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop’s miss from 41 yards that sent the game into overtime as the play of the year for San Diego. However, the Chargers still needed to score in order to take advantage of Succop’s miscue. And safety Eric Weddle’s gutsy -- perhaps reckless -- decision to call a fake punt in overtime helped get his team a new set of downs, ultimately leading to a Nick Novak 36-yard field goal that proved the game winner, clinching the Chargers’ first foray into the postseason since 2009. Weddle took a direct snap from long snapper Mike Windt and plunged forward into the Kansas City defense, squeaking out 2 yards to move the chains. Advanced NFL Stats broke down the numbers on running a fake punt in that situation, calling it at least a coin flip.

Check out the play here.

Season impact: We’re not going to explore the fact that the officials missed a call on Succop’s field goal that the Chargers overloaded the line of scrimmage defensively. Succop still missed the kick. Weddle had the authority to call a fake punt if he saw a certain look. And even in this situation where the Chargers would have essentially lost the game if he did not make it to the first-down marker, it took leadership to not only make the call, but then execute and get the first down. While every NFL season is separate and played out on its own, don’t discount how much the experience of reaching the playoffs last year means for this young team heading into 2014. And San Diego doesn’t get there without Weddle’s fake punt.

Quote: “With that look I felt like we could get 2 yards as a punt team with me running the ball. If we were going to go down, let’s go down doing what we do, and that’s playing aggressive until the end.”
– Weddle on decision to call fake punt.