The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Broncos-Chargers Rivalry?

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Sports is about rivalries. Some are genetic, like Eagles-Cowboys, others are acquired, like the Chargers-Broncos. Granted both teams reside in what has perennially been the worst division in football, the AFC West, but don't let that fool you. The fundamentals are in place: There is a shared hatred, a bad call that cost one team this season's first match-up and -- this Sunday -- a trip to the playoffs at stake.

The two 7-8 teams may have had unmemorable seasons, but they will forever be tied by what may go down as the worst call in officiating history. Ed Hochuli, a 19-year veteran ref gave handed Denver a one-point victory over visiting San Diego during week two.

As Gene Wang described it in Rate the Refs: "Trailing 38-31, the Broncos had driven to the Chargers 1-yard line in the final minute. On second and goal, quarterback Jay Cutler rolled right and cocked his arm back to throw. Before his arm went forward, the ball fell out in what appeared to be a fumble. Hochuli, however, blew his whistle before San Diego recovered and ruled it an incomplete pass.

Replays clearly showed Cutler had fumbled, but because Hochuli had blown his whistle, he had no choice but to place the ball at the spot where it hit the ground. Instant replay rules do not allow the opponent to gain possession in those situations.

Two plays later, Cutler completed a four-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal to cut the lead to one. Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan elected to try the two-point conversion, and Denver converted when Cutler completed a throw to Royal for the final margin [39-38]."

Further fueling this rivalry is the animosity between the teams' starting quarterbacks. Phillip Rivers and Jay Cutler just aren't that fond of each other, and they've made no secret of that. "I'll be honest about it - I don't like him," Cutler said. "He's playing really good football right now, but I have no desire to be his friend."

It began in December,2007 during a San Diego routing of Denver. When Cutler failed to convert a fourth down, TV cameras caught Rivers on the sideline making choking gestures and taunting him. Members of the Chargers have said that Cutler started the animosity by making obscene gestures at Rivers earlier. Whoever started it, there is no love lost between the two.

"I hope those guys are there for the next eight to 10 years because I think it would really be great for that division," former quarterback Boomer Esiason, was quoted saying. I couldn't agree more. Sunday's Charger-Broncos game is the one to watch.

By Emil Steiner  |  December 25, 2008; 3:45 PM ET  | Category:  Denver Broncos , San Diego Chargers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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