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Chargers keep playoff hopes alive with wild OT victory

The San Diego Chargers overcame a 21-point deficit and a franchise-record 355 rushing yards by the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday night's 38-35 wild and wacky overtime thriller. Our takeaways:

  1. Eerily reminiscent of the Week 13 comeback victory over the Ravens, Philip Rivers and the Chargers saved their playoff livelihood in unlikely fashion. Capitalizing on Colin Kaepernick's brain cramp of running out of bounds in the four-minute drill, Rivers completed a pair of fourth downs leading to the game-tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. After fumble luck that included one that went for a touchdown, one on the goal line and another that would have ended the game in the 49ers' favor, the Bolts converted Quinton Patton's ill-timed overtime fumble into the game-winning field goal. A sloppy San Diego squad that turned the ball over three times, committed head-scratching penalties and missed a slew of tackles will take on the Chiefs for a potential wild-card spot in the season finale.
  1. From the better-late-than-never department, the 49ers finally got their power-running game working with the return of road-grading right tackle Anthony Davis. In addition to the most rushing yards in 49ers history, it was the franchise's first game with a pair of 100-yard rushers since 1977. A hard-charging Frank Gore slashed his way to a season-high in rushing yards by halftime. Kaepernick's 90-yard touchdown was the second-longest by a quarterback in NFL history, staking the 49ers to a 14-point lead late in the third quarter. It was a big play coming on the heels of a 14-point swing when the Chargers converted a Kaepernick fumble into a score one play after Vernon Davis' long touchdown reception was nullified. Kaepernick's lack of game-management skills continues to haunt his team.
  1. Give Rivers credit for taking over the game in crunchtime. Down to a fifth-string center and minus star tailback Ryan Mathews and No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen, Rivers leaned on ageless wonder Ronnie Brown and relative unknown Dontrelle Inman with the game on the line. Undrafted out of Virginia, Inman caught the first seven passes of his career, five of them coming on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
  1. Hard-hitting 49ers safety Eric Reid sustained his third concussion in two NFL seasons. Despite promises to adjust his tackling style, Reid remains one of the game's most reckless hitters. It has to be a concern for the team that one of their best young players is accumulating head injuries with regularity.
  1. With Michael Crabtree nursing a knee injury and donning a baseball cap on the sideline, wide receiver Bruce Ellington became the first 49ers rookie since Amp Lee in 1992 to produce rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game. Crabtree's contract-year push has fizzled out, which could lead to an exodus from San Francisco and a bigger role for Ellington in 2015.
  1. With one more touchdown in the season finale, Antonio Gates can reach the century club for his career while tying his single-season career high (13). Not bad for a 34-year-old widely viewed last offseason as having entered the twilight of his career.
  1. Antoine Bethea added a pick-six to his All-Pro résumé. He has been one of the league's best playmakers at safety all season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews Week 16 and recaps the Jaguars' win over the Titans. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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