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Celebrity NFL picks: Chargers still recovering from shocker

Sal DeFilippo

The lightning bolt on the side of the helmets couldn’t be a more fitting emblem these days for the San Diego Chargers. No matter what they have seemed to do, at least for the first two weeks of the season, they get struck.

Celebrity Picks

Lance Burton, Monte Carlo master magician(2-4)

Falcons -4 1/2 vs. Chiefs

Eagles -3 vs. Steelers

Jets +9 at Chargers

****

Anthony Crivello, star of Phantom - Las Vegas Spectacular (5-1)

Falcons -4 ½ vs. Chiefs

Bears –3 vs. Buccaneers

49ers -4 vs. Lions

****

Carrot Top, Luxor headliner (2-4)

Bills –9 vs. Raiders

Seahawks –10 vs. Rams

Chargers -9 vs. Jets

****

Danny Gans, Mirage headliner (1-5)

Bears –3 vs. Buccaneers

Eagles –3 vs. Steelers

Cowboys –3 at Packers

****

Oscar Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas (4-2)

Lions +4 at 49ers

Eagles -3 vs. Steelers

Jets +9 at Chargers

****

Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist (3-3)

Falcons -4 ½ vs. Chiefs

Bears-Buccaneers under 35 1/2

49ers-Lions over 46

****

Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas" (4-2)

Ravens - 1 1/2 over Browns

Chargers -9 vs. Jets

49ers-Lions over 46

In their season opener, they led by five with two seconds remaining, only to watch Carolina’s Jake Delhomme double-pump and zip a pass through a sea of defenders to a leap Dante Rosario for the game-winning touchdown on the final play.

But compared to what happened this week in a key AFC West showdown at Denver, that was just a routine loss.

A first-quarter pass play provided a precursor of what was to come for the Chargers. Philip Rivers completed a pass to Chris Chambers, and as Chambers hit the ground and rolled over, Denver’s Champ Bailey wrestled the ball from Chambers. The officials ruled the play an interception, but anyone watching the game – what’s that, maybe a few million people? – could clearly see on the replays shown by CBS that Chambers should have been ruled down by contact, nullifying the pick.

Chargers coach Norv Turner threw the challenge flag, as he should have, and referee Ed Hochuli went under the hood to review the play.

But he never had the chance. Even though the CBS production crew provided multiple views of the play for everyone at home – Hochuli emerged after two minutes and announced that the replay equipment wasn’t functioning properly, and therefore, the play could not be reviewed. The original call of an interception – which was the incorrect call – stood and Denver took possession. This not only proved to be a harbinger of things to come, but the Broncos promptly drove 29 yards for a touchdown and took a 7-0 lead.

Denver extended its lead to 31-17 at halftime, but the resilient Chargers rallied, scoring 21 unanswered points for a 38-31 lead in the fourth quarter, before lightning struck again.

The Broncos mounted a late drive, and reached the 2-yard line with two minutes remaining. On a second-and-goal play, Denver QB Jay Cutler rolled out to his right, and cocked his arm back to throw. The ball flew out of his hand and bounced toward the sideline. Hochuli blew his whistle, signaling an incomplete pass, just before a Chargers defender pounced on the ball.

The play was reviewed – either the NFL’s system was repaired, or perhaps at some point after the first-quarter debacle someone realized that CBS was there and was actually recording the game and broadcasting it, so replays were available – and it was determined that Cutler indeed fumbled. However, since Hochuli had already blown the whistle, the play was dead at that point, so Denver retained possession at the point where the fumble occurred – the San Diego 10-yard line.

Two plays later, on fourth-and-goal, Denver scored to pull within 38-37. However, rather than take the extra point to tie the game with 24 seconds left, Denver coach Mike Shanahan – perhaps feeling like he was playing with house money – chose to go for two points. Cutler’s pass was caught by rookie Eddie Royal, and Denver sent the Chargers to a tough 0-2 start with a remarkable 39-38 victory.

That wasn’t the only surprising outcome from last week’s games. I somehow managed a 3-0 mark against the spread to move to 4-2 on the season. This week, I’ll take the Texans plus 5 against the Titans, the Lions-49ers over 46 and the Jaguars plus 5 ½ at Indianapolis.

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