Denver Wins, Ed Hochuli Gets a Game Ball

Simply nutty game in Denver tonight. Jay Cutler smashed through the San Diego defense to rip off a comfortable lead. But S.D.'s Darren Sproles returned a kickoff 103 yards and the Philip Rivers-Chris Chambers connection came alive with two ridiculous TD hookups. Denver began settling for FGs, and Sproles -- spelling gimpy LaDainian Tomlinson -- broke a 66-yard screen from Rivers to send the Chargers up by seven.
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↵That was all just a set-up for a truly peculiar final 90 seconds. With second and goal, Cutler rolled right and dropped the ball ... but Ed Hochuli whistled the ball dead as a Charger picked up the ball to seal the victory. On the replay challenge, Hochuli admitted it was a fumble and should be S.D. ball. But since the whistle sounded, NFL rules call the play dead where the ball hits the turf. Denver keeps the ball, and Cutler nails Eddie Royal to bring the score to 37-36.
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↵Then, Mike Shanahan -- playing with house money -- makes the bizarrely spectacular decision to go for two with 24 seconds left. At home, Shanahan eschews overtime to win now. Cutler hits Royal again, of course. Ballgame (though Rivers fired a beautiful but failed Hail Mary at Chambers in a crowd). San Diego went from sure victory to actuated defeat in, like, two minutes of real time.
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↵Shanahan would be a tremendous goat if the two-point ploy failed, so the decision deserves some skepticism in success. And I imagine Chargers fans have some opinions about Hochuli's quick whistle. But for a nonpartisan observer, the whole thing was just thrilling. Thanks, Ed and Mike.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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