Chargers end season for Manning, Colts

SAN DIEGO — Peyton Manning has his MVP award and nothing more, outdone again in January by the San Diego Chargers.

Speedy little Darren Sproles scooted 22 yards for the winning score 6:20 into overtime and the Chargers beat the Colts 23-17 in an AFC wild-card game Saturday night, ending Indianapolis’ nine-game winning streak a day after Manning won his third Associated Press NFL MVP award.

Sproles came up big on a night when the Chargers played the final 2 1/2 quarters without LaDainian Tomlinson, who stood on the sideline in obvious discomfort from a groin injury.

Fifty years after the Baltimore Colts won the first overtime game in league history by the same score over the New York Giants for the NFL title, Indianapolis wasn’t so fortunate. It was victimized by Sproles, who rushed 23 times for 105 yards, caught five passes for 45 yards, had 106 yards on four kickoff returns and 72 on three punt runbacks.

“It’s disappointing to lose a playoff game,” Manning said. “We certainly had some chances to win, but give them credit. We had chances to put the game away, but we just didn’t do it.”

The Chargers (9-8) won the overtime toss. Indy’s Darrell Reid called heads, but referee Ron Winter’s flip came up tails. Sproles sent the Chargers into the second round of the playoffs, either at Tennessee or Pittsburgh, by finishing off the only series of overtime with his TD run around left end against an exhausted defense for the Colts (12-5).

San Diego’s winning drive was aided by two defensive holding calls, the second against Tim Jennings on third-and-8. On the next play, Colts linebacker Clint Session was whistled for grabbing Sproles’ facemask. Sproles scored on the next play, shedding a defender at the 5-yard line.

Sproles’ TD run sent Qualcomm Stadium into bedlam. It was San Diego’s fifth straight win; the Chargers needed the previous four victories to secure the AFC West title with an 8-8 record.

Last season, the Chargers pulled off a 28-24 upset at Indianapolis in the divisional round after Philip Rivers and Tomlinson both went out with knee injuries.

This was the fourth time the teams met in two seasons and the sixth time in five years. The Chargers have won four of the six.

San Diego got its first sack of the game at a key time, when Tim Dobbins dropped Manning at the Colts 1 on third down with 2 minutes left, forcing a punt and giving the Chargers the ball at the Indy 38.

“I’m not going to get into the specific plays,” Manning said. “The Chargers made a good play on that one.”

Nate Kaeding kicked a 26-yard field goal with 31 seconds left to force overtime.

It was the 25th overtime game in the postseason, including one game in the AFL. The last overtime game in the playoffs was last season’s NFC title game, won by the New York Giants and Manning’s little brother, Eli, against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

Another star for the Chargers was Mike Scifres, whose booming punts continually pinned the Colts deep in their territory. Scifres punted six times for an average of 52.7 yards, including a 67-yarder.

Still, Manning caught the Chargers napping on a 72-yard touchdown play that for a while seemed like it was going to stand as the winner.

Facing third-and-5 from the Colts 28, Manning quickly lined up and took an immediate snap that caught cornerback Antonio Cromartie so flat-footed he was looking at the Chargers’ bench when receiver Reggie Wayne went speeding past him and safety Paul Oliver. Wayne caught Manning’s pass at the Chargers 45 and was gone for a 17-14 lead.

The Colts came up with two turnovers in the end zone. Sproles was hit at the 2-yard line and fumbled into the end zone late in the third quarter, with Raheem Brock recovering.

Rivers kept San Diego’s next drive alive with a 13-yard scramble followed by a 1-yard sneak on fourth down, but then overthrew Chris Chambers in double coverage and was intercepted in the end zone by Antoine Bethea.

The teams traded TDs early, with Indy’s Joseph Addai scoring on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter and Tomlinson scoring on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter. The Colts went ahead 10-7 on Adam Vinatieri’s 43-yard field goal midway through the second period before Sproles’ 9-yard run just before halftime put the Chargers ahead 14-10.

Manning was 25-of-42 for 310 yards. Rivers was 20-of-36 for 216 yards, with one interception.

“We were backed up at times, but when you’re backed up, the idea is go try to get a first down and change field position,” Manning said. “We weren’t able to do that.”

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Comments » 27

SemperVol writes:

The Colts were given so many gifts and still couldn't pull away. That one was painful to watch. I really hate Overtimes...

Sproles took those fans on a rollercoaster ride with his fumbles and 328 yards of total offense. As a Titan fan I think I'd much rather play the Bolts right now than the Colts.

Where the heck was the Bob Sanders show????

johnlg00 writes:

Colts' defense sucked late. Penalties killed them in OT. The Chargers were clearly the better team tonight. Go Titans! Right now, I'm hoping for a Titans-Panthers Super Bowl, though the NFL would probably hate it.

Bufforange00 writes:

This one wasn't manning's fault. Colts D couldn't stop sproles. If not for fumbles and colts gift TD to reggie wayne, the game wouldn't have even made it to overtime. Where was the Colt's running game. They need to go get a great running back.

chrisw2967 writes:

Naffy hasnt made an entrance yet ? It was all Peytond fault Naffy will tell us as soon as he gets back from watching Peyton play.

FortyNinerVol writes:

Terrible officiating against the Colts seems to be a reoccuring theme. Peyton played another terrific post season game, I'm glad he has his MVP to take away from this season, one more and he will likely be considered the greatest of all time.

Southpaw_Vol writes:

I'm sick of this bromance everyone has with Peyton Mangina. He's good, not God. He plays for a team in Indiana, not Tennessee. Why isn't everyone Patriots fans? Jerod Mayo plays there. Why isn't everyone Ravens fans? Jamal Lewis plays there. Why the love fest with Peyton? I'm a TENNESSEE Titans fan. I wanted another shot at the Dolts. Too bad the Chargers won. They gave Indy every opportunity to win. This one isn't on the refs, its on the Dolts.

Bring on SD or BAL! Go Titans!

Southpaw_Vol writes:

in response to Southpaw_Vol:

I'm sick of this bromance everyone has with Peyton Mangina. He's good, not God. He plays for a team in Indiana, not Tennessee. Why isn't everyone Patriots fans? Jerod Mayo plays there. Why isn't everyone Ravens fans? Jamal Lewis plays there. Why the love fest with Peyton? I'm a TENNESSEE Titans fan. I wanted another shot at the Dolts. Too bad the Chargers won. They gave Indy every opportunity to win. This one isn't on the refs, its on the Dolts.

Bring on SD or BAL! Go Titans!

*correction* replace Ravens with Browns

(but you get my point, I hope)

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

I loved it. Go Titans.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

The defense was simply awful. Needs major changes.

SemperVol writes:

in response to RobtheVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pending his knee doesn't remain infected. Heard that ligament hasn't got much physical therapy since undergoing 2 additional knee surgeries... who knows.

I think the success of Matt Cassel this year proves that Tom Brady, all along, has been a system Quarterback.

eduardo writes:

GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

in response to RobtheVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's part of the game. If it was "cheating" then there'd be a rule against it, and there's not. It's part of the plus side of the no-huddle. The guy was on the field, just taking his time, not paying attention.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Yeh, I hate NFL overtime rules...always have.

straightshooter writes:

Loss wasn't Manning's fault. Hate to say it but he may never get back to another AFC championship game particularly if he stays with the Colts, much less the Superbowl.Take away the hurry up trick play engineered by Manning and the Colts could muster but 10 points! Far out played by a 9-7 Chargers team. The team is aging and falling down around him. Receivers, lineman, secondary, only a shadow of what they once were. How many mistakes did the O-line make last night. Too many to count. Only one guy (Freeny) that busts his rearend on defense. Not a typical Dungy defense for sure.Only reason the game was close was the 2 turnovers of course, will give the D some credit for them. Maybe Payton will move on to another team if Dungy retires but not sure about his contract terms if he can. Would be nice to see him end his career while he has a few productive years left with another team.

blitzshoot writes:

Colts D-Line and O-line had some issues last night. Chargers played hard though. Should be interesting next weekend, especially if they get the Titans. Chargers
running game is looking good.

bugman (Inactive) writes:

colts dynasty = over

serenehunter#668900 writes:

It was painful to watch "Wally" and his team lose. Now we have to hope "The Beav" and his New York Giants go all the way

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Southpaw_Vol:

I'm sick of this bromance everyone has with Peyton Mangina. He's good, not God. He plays for a team in Indiana, not Tennessee. Why isn't everyone Patriots fans? Jerod Mayo plays there. Why isn't everyone Ravens fans? Jamal Lewis plays there. Why the love fest with Peyton? I'm a TENNESSEE Titans fan. I wanted another shot at the Dolts. Too bad the Chargers won. They gave Indy every opportunity to win. This one isn't on the refs, its on the Dolts.

Bring on SD or BAL! Go Titans!

How many scholarships to UT have Jerod Mayo or Jamal Lewis endowed? Those two both left UT with a year of eligibility remaining while Peyton stayed all four years. Who among all of them is heard and quoted nationally talking up UT as much as Peyton? I try to follow and root for all of the ex-Vols in the NFL, but we will be waiting a long time to see any of them equal Peyton's national stature and continuing proud association with UT.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

How many scholarships to UT have Jerod Mayo or Jamal Lewis endowed? Those two both left UT with a year of eligibility remaining while Peyton stayed all four years. Who among all of them is heard and quoted nationally talking up UT as much as Peyton? I try to follow and root for all of the ex-Vols in the NFL, but we will be waiting a long time to see any of them equal Peyton's national stature and continuing proud association with UT.

Just thinking off the cuff, I'll add:
1. Manning touches the ball every single offensive play, Jamal only about 15% and Mayo only abotu 15% of the tackles.
2. Neither the Browns nor the Patriots are in the playoffs.
3. W/O Manning the Colts are 5-11, can't say the Browns would reverse without Jamal or the Pats disappear without Mayo.
4. Most E Tn's grew up without a natural allegiance to a pro team thus choose based on familiarity (visibility, see #1) of players.

vol1994 writes:

eduardo writes:
GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
----------------

AMEN to that!!

I do feel we will beat the chargers or dolphins but do not think our o line will protect Big Ben to get us to the Bowl.
Hopefully I am wrong though.

someome made a comment about peyton cheating- LUDICROUS comment! Learn the rules first my friend.
If the offense does NOT substitute players then the Defense is NOT allowed to do so...

tums writes:

I would rather play San Diego if my team was still in the playoffs. The game last night just proves my point on why NFL overtimes are retarded.

Triton1 writes:

in response to bugman:

colts dynasty = over

What dynasty?

rockytoptilidie writes:

No excuses, but the officiating sucked. That crew always calls a ton of penalties. Manning critics will say he choked, but here are my observations:

1. Colts have Vol-like special teams with NO returners.

2. Joseph Addai cannot hit a hole at full speed and IMO, should NOT be a starting RB in the NFL.

3. The linebackers are terrible.

4. Looked like a Chavis coached defense with 3rd and long and not being able to cover Gates nor Sproles.

Ahhh, it sucks, but now I can start thinking about 2009.

HallowedHill writes:

in response to RobtheVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What an incredibly idiotic statement. It's not the offense's responsibility to let the defense take their time to get prepared. In your logic, it is cheating to quickly snap the ball and take a knee when the defense jumps offsides.
In fact, it shows Manning's awareness and knowledge of the game to take advantage of a defense that isn't paying attention.

Hey Peyton, I'd love to see you pull a play from Marino's playbook and throw a "Statue of Liberty" on a fake kneel-down prior to the half.

brat52 writes:

Peyton made us proud of him during his days at UT. He was a classy, clean player! I guess that really still gives some of the posters heartburn! He showed his sportsmanship when he helped the other teams player get up that time. Did he have to do it, No! Did it lessen the intensity of his playing, No!
He has been an overall success story since Graduating from UT. His support of the Vols has never wavered. A good man, a man to proud of. A great example for a child to use for a role model. Some of you posters are so acidic and negative, you wouldn't make a good role model for being a bad one. You are pitiful! Get a LIFE!
Now IF you were as successful at coaching as Phil Fulmer and quarterbacking as Peyton, you just be on grounds to be an authority about something! You don't realize that your deliberate misspelling of people, places and things takes AWAY from your postings that otherwise MIGHT have merit! You are dumb, dumb, dumb! What a shame not to use the grey matter (brains) in your head! Try using your brains, be objective and thoughtful as you set forth your arguments. You just might get some intelligent dialogue going!

Grim1 writes:

I can't wait to see the Chargers/Ravens AFC Championship game
My 2 favorite teams.

GO RAVENS!!!
GO CHARGERS!!!!

ncvol writes:

in response to RobtheVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Rob, must you go on and on...Peyton paid every penny of that $500,000 back when he got drafted...That is a fact...
You can continue to slap the fans in the face with all your negative comments and cause bad feelings toward you or you can let it go...
All of this negativity toward Peyton can't be healthy. What has he ever done to you ? Why do you want to tear down a good man?
Go Vols!

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