The Cincinnati Bengals will play the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (ET) kickoff on Sunday, January 5.
In a world of improbable playoff scenarios, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to beat the Cleveland Browns, and then have the New York Jets beat the Miami Dolphins, the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers to qualify for the final wild card spot.
And until the 3:21 mark in the fourth quarter between the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, that nearly happened.
San Diego overcame a fourth quarter 10-point deficit with a touchdown and field goal, tying the game against the Chiefs with 3:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. Kansas City strung together a 10-play drive until the Chiefs reached the 23-yard line with eight seconds remaining in the game. Instead of securing the win, Chiefs place kicker Ryan Succop pushed the 41-yard field goal wide right, sending the game into overtime.
San Diego scored first with a 36-yard Nick Novak field goal. Kansas City drove from their own 26-yard line to the Chargers 41, but a failed fourth down conversion gave San Diego the 27-24 win. Cincinnati beat the Chargers earlier this year, 17-10.
The Cincinnati Bengals secured the No. 3 seed on Sunday after beating the Baltimore Ravens 34-17 at Paul Brown Stadium. Had the Buffalo Bills upset the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Cincinnati could have claimed the second seed and a first-round bye. Instead the Patriots secured the spot and now Cincinnati will enter the 2013 playoffs as the No. 3 seed.
Per NFL seeding rules in the playoffs, the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed, which the Chargers earned on Sunday.
The Cincinnati Bengals have played the San Diego Chargers once in the playoffs -- the 1981 Freezer Bowl (aka, the AFC Championship game) with the Bengals winning 27-7.