The NFL acknowledged that referees erred in not penalizing the San Diego Chargers for an illegal formation on a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop of the Kansas City Chiefs with 4 seconds left in regulation on Sunday.
Succop was wide right on the kick, and the Chargers went on to win 27-24 in overtime to claim the AFC’s final playoff spot. The Pittsburgh Steelers would have been in the postseason had Kansas City won the game.
San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper, and NFL rules state that no more than six players can be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper.
The NFL said in a statement Monday that the penalty should have been called by referee Bill Leavy’s crew, moving the ball 5 yards closer to the end zone and giving Succop another attempt at the game-winning field goal. Succop was 15 of 16 this season from within 40 yards.
The NFL did not say whether Leavy’s crew would be disciplined.
“We misaligned on it. I’m not going to deny it,” Chargers rookie coach Mike McCoy said Monday. “But hey, those calls all balance themselves out over the year. They’re part of the game. We’re all human. … Things happen for a reason. We didn’t do it on purpose, I can tell you that.”
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin even said Monday he knew the Chargers were lined up illegally before the field goal attempt.
“What transpired yesterday was unfortunate for our hopes moving forward. We’ll have to find a way to accept that and move forward,” Tomlin said. “I’m not going to lose any sleep over something that happened in a stadium that we weren’t even in.”
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez officially retired after 17 seasons in the NFL.
Gonzalez spent the majority of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, who made the announcement.
Gonzalez played in 270 regular-season games with 254 starts. The 13-time Pro Bowler owns NFL career records for tight ends with 1,325 receptions, 15,127 receiving yards, 111 receiving touchdowns and 31 100-yard receiving games.
Gonzalez pondered retirement last season, but after the Falcons came up just 10 yards short in the NFC title game, he put it off to make one more run at the Super Bowl. Instead, the Falcons labored to a 4-12 finish and a hollow ending to Gonzalez’s brilliant playing career.
“Obviously it just wasn’t in my cards, and I’m OK with that, honestly,” Gonzalez said. “Don’t ever look at me and say, ‘Well, he never won the big game.’ I hope there’s no glitch on my record because of that, and if you think that way, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I really don’t because this is the ultimate team sport.”
COUGHLIN KEEPS JOB
Tom Coughlin is going to get another chance to make the New York Giants a champion again.
Giants co-owner John Mara told the 67-year-old Coughlin on Monday morning that despite a disappointing 7-9 record, he wants him to return for an 11th season with the team that he led to Super Bowl titles in 2008 and 2012.
It marked the fourth time in five years that the Giants have missed the postseason.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker was cleared to play after missing the last four regular-season games due to concussions. … Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline has a torn PCL in his left knee. The injury will not require surgery and he should be ready for training camp.