Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen probably couldn't believe he was about to have some good luck on the football field — the place where he lacerated his kidney in 2015 and where the ligaments in his knee exploded in 2016.
Sunday in the Chargers' final game of the season, the ball squirted out of Melvin Gordon's hands right into Allen's, and a path cleared for a 27-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, the first points in the Chargers' 30-10 win against the Raiders.
"That was crazy," Allen said. "I looked up and the ball was coming to me. I've never had a play like that."
It capped a season in which Allen made every kind of play imaginable for the Chargers. His 102 catches this season set a franchise record. His 1,393 yards receiving is the second most in team history.
But a more important number for Allen was 16 — the number of games he played this year.
Allen played the entire season for the first time in his career. Allen did so following a season in which he injured his knee in the Chargers' first game of the 2016 season.
"Credit to him. I'm happy for him, excited," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "He really attacked the rehab head on. Not that he didn't practice hard in the past, but the way he committed himself to practice and to run and run, day in and day out, all the way back to O.T.A.'s, you just knew he was determined to have a great year. …One of his biggest goals was to be out there for all 16, and you knew if he was out there for all 16, he'd have a heck of a chance to have the type of year that he had.
"It's pretty remarkable for him."
The plan for next season?
"Come back and do it again," he said. "Come back and be more consistent, try to get better."
Kicks from Nick Rose
Had the Chargers somehow made the playoffs, they probably would have employed their fifth kicker of the season next week. The position clearly will be a priority after Nick Rose, in his second game with the Chargers, had a field-goal attempt and an extra-point attempt blocked.
Rose, who followed the ineffective Younghoe Koo, the injured Nick Novak and the short-on-leg Travis Coons, has plenty of leg strength, as he showed when he knocked five of six kickoffs deep into the end zone for touchbacks against the Raiders.
But accuracy and trajectory are clearly issues for Rose, who missed wide right — by a good 10 yards — on a 47-yard field-goal attempt against the New York Jets on Christmas Eve and knocked his 50-yard attempt in the second quarter Sunday into the face mask of Raiders tackle Justin Ellis.
The ball struck Ellis near the Raiders 30-yard line with so much force that it caromed all the way back into Chargers territory, where Oakland recovered at the 30-yard line. The block led to a Giorgio Tavecchio 40-yard field goal that gave the Raiders a 10-7 lead with 7 minutes 27 seconds left in the first half.
After Rivers hit Allen on a perfectly thrown corner fade route for a six-yard touchdown and a 20-10 lead with 30 seconds left in the half, Rose knocked another low kick into the Raiders line, where the potential extra point was blocked by Denico Autry.
Chargers' kickers combined to make 20 of 30 field-goal attempts this season.
Rivers finished the season with 4,515 yards passing, second in the NFL behind New England quarterback Tom Brady, and fourth most in his career. … Safety Adrian Phillips and defensive lineman Corey Liuget were unable to play because of injury. … The Chargers' 9-3 record after starting 0-4 is the best 12-week span for the team since 2009. … The lone team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting 0-4 remains the 1992 San Diego Chargers.