It's the kind of game that the San Diego Chargers were glad to be a part of, as long as they won. Such was the case on Sunday as they escaped with a 27-24 victory and in turn keeping their playoff hopes alive.
"These are the games you are going to remember five and 10 years down the road from now," Chargers Linebacker Dwight Freeney said after the game. "We'll sit back and think, ‘remember the game against the Rams? We thought it was going to be over but then they threw the ball and we got an interception.' That's the stuff that we'll remember. It was great to be a part of it. It never gets old. These are the [types] of games that we love to have. It felt great to have the whole stadium and the whole city excited."
"Today was one of those days that makes you appreciate being in the NFL," Linebacker Jarret Johnson said after the game. "It makes you kind of sit back and enjoy it. Even with the back and forth, today is why it's such a great game."
The excitement in the Chargers locker room could have easily turned to disappointment and despair if not for the late game heroics of safety Marcus Gilchrist and his game-saving interception.
With the Rams driving to the Chargers 4-yard line, Saint Louis Quarterback Shaun Hill took the snap with 1:03 left in the game and scanned the field for an open receiver. Hill saw Wide Receiver Kenny Britt coming across the middle of the field. What Hill didn't see was Gilchrist following his gaze and stepping in front of the intended receiver for the turnover.
Gilchrist had his share of mistakes to be sure, but the interception not only kept the Rams from scoring a touchdown, but also prevented a chip-shot field goal to send the game into overtime. According to Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy, stepping up when your team needs you is something that is instilled from day one.
"That's what it's all about," McCoy said. "You talk in off-season and training camp when the game is on the line who is going to make the big plays, and that's what the NFL is all about. Week in and week out, there's people that make big plays. Gillie got beat on a touchdown there at one point in time, and all of the sudden he comes back with the play of the game. Like I said, the character of our football team is unbelievable. We just believe in each other."
The game saving interception pushed Defensive End Corey Liguet's emotional state off the charts.
"Oh I was happy," Liguet said. "My heart was pounding. It was about to beat out of my chest. If it could come up and down, I think it would have definitely come out a few times. I'm glad he was able to snag it, get it, get down and seal the game."
With the Chargers escaping with the win, they have positioned themselves reasonably well with a 7-4 record, tied for second place in the AFC West and a game back of the Denver Broncos. A loss on Sunday would have put the Chargers in an even more uphill climb with 5 games left.
"This time of the year, any loss is devastating," Linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "But we didn't [lose], we won. We made one more play than they did. They are a really good football team and to come out and make big plays at the end like that even though we got down, it was awesome for (Marcus) Gilchrist to make that last play."