The NFL admitted the San Diego Chargers should have been penalized on the final play of regulation in Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, which would have given Kansas City another chance to win.
Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal attempt with four seconds left. A Kansas City win would have eliminated the Chargers from a playoff spot and given the Pittsburgh Steelers the No. 6 seed.
Instead, the Chargers beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime to clinch the AFC's final wild card.
Because of a new rule this season, the Chargers should have been penalized five yards on the play for illegal formation before Succop's kick. That would have given Succop a second chance, but from 36 yards out.
"On the play, San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper," the NFL said in a statement Monday. "This should have been penalized as an illegal formation by the defense."
Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3 relates to the overloading of one side of the formation when defending a field goal. Replays showed the Chargers had seven players lined up on the right side of the defensive formation.
"The rule was adopted this year as a player safety measure," the league said. "The penalty for illegal formation by the defense is a loss of five yards.
"This rule is not subject to instant replay review. Had the penalty been assessed, it would have resulted in a fourth-and-7 from the San Diego 18 with 0:04 remaining, enabling the Chiefs to attempt a 36-yard field goal."
If the Chiefs won, the Steelers (8-8) would have owned a tiebreaker for the No. 6 playoff spot over the Chargers.
San Diego (9-7) visits the No. 3-seeded Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.