The San Diego Chargers can trace their lineage to August 1959, when Barron Hilton met with representatives from five other cities to discuss a proposed football league, which later became known as the American Football League (AFL). The AFL began in 1960 with eight teams, including Hilton's Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders, New York Titans, Houston Oilers, Buffalo Bills and the Boston Patriots.

The 1960 Los Angeles Chargers were led by future Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach, Sid Gillman. On his staff were defensive line coach, Chuck Noll and backfield coach, Al Davis. The placekicker was Ben Agajanian, who was one of only two players (the other was Hardy Brown) who played in the All-America Football Conference, the American Football League, and the National Football League. Ben booted field goals for 10 different professional teams in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including the 1956 NFL Champion New York Giants and the 1961 NFL Champion Green Bay Packers .

5. November 22, 1960 Los Angeles 52 Oakland 28

This is the reason the Chargers spent only one season in Los Angeles. In front of only 15, 075 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Chargers met the Raiders for the first time. There was bad blood from the beginning with these two teams. They would meet on back to back weekends, and the Chargers outscored the Raiders, 93-45.

The Chargers were led by QB Jack Kemp. Jack completed 13 passes in only 24 attempts for 307 yards. Jack had TD strikes of 69 yards to WR Don Norton, and a 63 yard toss to RB Paul Lowe. Paul also rushed for 169 yards as the Chargers piled up almost 600 yards in total offense.

San Diego forced four Oakland fumbles, and held the Raiders to 180 passing. The defense forced QB's Tony Teresa and Tom Flores to the bench. Future Boston Patriots' star, Babe Parilli finished up at QB with just six completions in 17 attempts.

Oakland owner, Wayne Valley took notice of the way the Chargers just bashed his Raiders. Wikipedia:
Valley later stated, "we needed someone who wanted to win so badly, he would do anything. Everywhere I went, people told me what a son of a bitch Al Davis was, so I figured he must be doing something right.
Valley hired Al Davis as head coach and general manager, with complete control over football operations.

4. December 28, 2008 San Diego 52 Denver 21

The game was known as "the Ed Hochuli Bowl." This was payback for the gift victory that the referee had given the Broncos earlier in the season.
September 14, 2008: With 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were leading 38–31 in Denver. The Broncos hiked the ball on 2nd-and-goal from the Chargers' 1-yard line. Jay Cutler rolled out to the right and fumbled the football before he brought his arm forward, which was recovered by Chargers' linebacker Tim Dobbins. However, referee Ed Hochuli called the play dead as he believed it to be an incomplete pass, so the ball was returned to the Broncos at the 10-yard line (the spot where the ball hit the ground). Two plays later, on 4th-and-goal from the 4, Cutler threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Eddie Royal to make the score 38–37. Instead of kicking an extra point to tie the game and send it to overtime, Broncos' head coach Mike Shanahan opted for a 2-point conversion. Cutler completed the conversion with another pass to Royal, giving Denver a controversial 39–38 victory.

The Chargers poured it on in the regular-season finale, knocking the Broncos out of the playoffs and costing head coach, Mike Shanahan his job.

San Diego rushed for 289 yards against a porous Denver defense. RB's Darren Sproles and Ladanian Tomlinson accounted for 211 yards and four touchdowns. QB Philip Rivers passed for 202 yards on 15 of 20 passing. He was also flagged for a 15 yard penalty for "taunting" Denver QB Jay Cutler.

The Chargers piled up the score on a four yard TD run by Jacob Hester with just 15 seconds to play. San Diego held the ball for over 36 minutes and punted just once. The Chargers were successful on two 4th down attempts, including one on the final drive.

3. November 24, 2013 San Diego 41 Kansas City 38

The rivalry lacks the animosity that the Broncos and Raiders bring. San Diego holds only a 55-53-1 advantage over the Chiefs. Former head coach Marty Schottenheimer had stints with both teams, but this did not generate increased hostility.

The 5-6 Chargers went into Arrowhead Stadium having lost three in a row. The Chiefs had suffered their first loss of the season the week before, and had a 9-1 record.

The game featured eight lead changes. Kansas City QB Alex Smith had a solid outing with 26 for 38 passing and three TD's. He did have one interception on a deflected pass by S Marcus Gilchrist. The Chiefs running attack averaged 8.2 yards per carry. Most of the yardage came from RB Jamal Charles who rushed for 115 with two touchdowns.

The teams alternated scores 11 times with the Chargers scoring last on a 26 yard pass from QB Philip Rivers to WR Seyi Ajirotutu. It was his only catch on the day, and it came with 24 seconds remaining.

San Diego QB Philip Rivers completed 27 of 39 passes for 392 yards and three TD's. He marched the Chargers 78 yards in seven plays in 58 seconds to give San Diego a come from behind victory. He completed four straight passes, including two to RB Danny Woodhead. The season was on the line, and the Chargers were out of timeouts.

Against a top rated Kansas City defense, "It's one of those you'll never forget, that's for sure," said Rivers.

2. December 28, 1963 San Diego 51 Boston 10

The top two defensive teams met in Balboa Stadium in San Diego for the fourth AFL title. San Diego also had the top offensive attack scoring 399 points. The Chargers had lost the first two title games to the Houston Oilers, 24-16 and 10-3.

As MVP of the the 1963 AFL Championship game, RB Keith Lincoln turned in what many consider the greatest championship game performance in Pro Football history, when he accounted for 349 yards of total offense, with 206 yards on 13 carries, 123 yards on 7 receptions, 20 yards on kick returns, a 68-yard TD run, a 25-yard TD reception,and completed the one pass he threw for 20 yards as the Chargers defeated the Boston Patriots 51-10.

San Diego also boasted another strong running back in Paul Lowe who rushed for 94 on 12 carries and a 58 yard TD. The Chargers featured two QB's with Tobin Rote and John Hadl splitting the duties. The two combined for 305 yards on 17 for 26 passing and three TD's. The Chargers rushed for 318 yards, and 623 yards of total offense.

The Boston Patriots had won the AFL East with a record of 7-6-1. They were no match for the Chargers defense who sacked QB Babe Parilli six times and forced three turnovers.

The Chargers would play in the AFL title game six times and the 1963 team would be their only winner.

1. January 2, 1982 San Diego 41 Miami 38 (OT)

Rick Weinberg, ESPN:
The first sign of serious trouble came near the end of the third quarter, shortly after Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to give San Diego a 31-24 lead. As an exhausted Winslow walked to the sidelines, he felt his thigh cramp up. Then he felt his calf cramp up. He hobbled to the bench, ready to collapse.
Winslow wasn't the only one. The heat and humidity had turned the Orange Bowl in Miami into an outdoor sauna. This January 2, 1982, NFL playoff game between the Dolphins and Chargers is considered one of the greatest in league history. This game went on for 4 hours and 45 minutes, and left 90 players dragging their tongues across the hot turf.

The game was played on Saturday with a 5PM kickoff in Miami’s Orange Bowl, already a dilapidated dump of a stadium. The weather would definitely play a part as it was 76 degrees with relative humidity of 80% at game time, making the temperature feel like 88 degrees. Charger players later said that it felt like playing football in a sauna and insisted that the temperature increased as the night went on.

The Chargers built a first half 24-0 lead on the passing of QB Dan Fouts and a 56 yard TD punt return by Wes Chandler. The Dolphins struggled with David Woodley at QB who was only 2 of 5 passing for 20 yards and an interception. His rating was 12.5. Miami went to the bench for the backup, Don Strock. Their QB combination was known as "Woodstrock."

The contest featured the "hook and ladder" or the play the Miami Dolphins referred to as "87 Circle Curl Lateral." WR Duriel Harris caught a 20-yard pass from quarterback Don Strock and then lateraled it to RB Tony Nathan, who ran 25 yards for the score. This cut the Chargers lead to 24-17, at halftime.

Both teams had ample opportunities to win the game in regulation, but the heat, pure exhaustion and unbelievable efforts by players from both teams forced overtime.

The teams combined for 1036 total yards on offense. San Diego QB Dan Fouts passed for 433 yards, Miami QB Don Strock had 403. There were seven turnovers, 16 penalties, five sacks, 59 first downs, five players with over 100 yards receiving, and four missed field goals, two of which were blocked.

The 1958 NFL title game featured 17 future Pro Football Hall of Fame selections. This game featured five. It was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as "Game No One Should Have Lost". For pure excitement, this was the best NFL game, ever.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

Follow me on Twitter at @_prmurphy

For more of my articles, click here.

Paul Murphy 12/06/2014 08:00:00 AM Edit

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