11
Jan
08

NFL Playoff Predictions: Chargers at Colts

The last time these two met, in San Diego in Week 10, the Colts were without sure-handed targets Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning threw six interceptions. The Chargers stormed out to a 23-0 lead halfway through the second quarter and even LaDainian Tomlinson looked a little bit happy on the sidelines. Most of the points, by the way, came from one punt and one kickoff return each for touchdowns by Darren Sproles; his first two NFL touchdowns. Then, Norv Turner coaching kicked in and the Chargers watched helplessly as Indianapolis began coming back.

 

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At 23-7, Adam Vinatieri missed a 42-yard field goal to end the first half. A Kenton Keith touchdown in the third made the game 23-13 and the Colts attempt to covert for two was successful as well, making it 23-15. Just fifteen seconds later, Philip Rivers was sacked; the line of scrimmage was his own 8-yard line. He dropped the ball going down as he had seen Antonio Gates get free in the flat and tried to pass the ball as he was getting sacked, forgetting for a split second about the rain that was pouring down, making his hands and the ball too slippery to grip together. The resulting fumble was recovered by Indy in the end zone, making the score 23-21 with 14:28 to go in the fourth quarter. The Chargers stuffed Joseph Addai as he tried to run up the middle for the two-point conversion.

Somewhere around this time, Philip Rivers went to sit beside what appeared on television to be a sulking and pouting LaDainian Tomlinson as LT sat near the end of a bench on the sidelines. As soon as Rivers pluncked his butt down, LT jumped up and stormed off. It looked for all the world like he pretty much was disgusted with Rivers and wanted nothing to do with him. After the game, however, LT had this to say about the apparent rift: “I saw why it looked like that,” Tomlinson said. “But the crazy thing is that was the time I just got done talking to (Lorenzo Neal). I didn’t realize Philip had sat down.” He should run for office.

Then, with just 1:34 on the clock, Vinatieri lined up for a 29-yard chip shot field goal to complete the Colts comeback. Shockingly, he missed that one as well.

“I should make that kick every time,” Vinatieri said. “There are no good excuses. I just missed it.” Yeah, we saw…twice.

After holding the Chargers to three-and-out, Manning got the ball back with :22 seconds, but threw his sixth interception to seal the unlikely and very lucky Chargers victory, and Indy’s second straight loss.

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So what happened? Well, even with six Manning interceptions, the Chargers were able to score just one offensive touchdown and almost lost the game, were it not for a missed 2-point convert (which would have tied and given either team a chance), or either of two missed field goals by Vinatieri. At home.

This week, the Colts may still be without Harrison, but they are use to that now. The Chargers will be without Antonio Gates – something they are not use to at all. And the Colts are at home and well-rested. And Norv Turner is still coaching the Chargers. And Tony Dungy has rumors of his impending departure from the Colts swirling about, perhaps giving the team a little extra incentive to win more games for the man they have grown to love and respect.

Something about this looks for all the world to me like a big-time Indianapolis victory.

The Yardstick for this game is calling for a 10-point Colts victory, but I think it will more likely be around an absurd 21 point win; a wholesale slaughter. The only real intrigue, I suspect, will be watching to see LT explode on the sidelines. Hopefully, he and Turner will actually get into a hockey fight on the sidelines.

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