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Chargers end Colts' undefeated season, stay in playoff hunt

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/12/19/sports/professional/chargers/121805193406.txt" target="_blank">North County Times</a>

    By Jay Paris

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/chargersvcolts11.jpg" class="left" alt="Igor Olshansky sacks Manning" />INDIANAPOLIS ---- The Chargers were trailing the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday with seven minutes remaining, teetering toward an 8-6 record.

    Instead, they 86'd the Colts' perfect season.

    A stingy Chargers defense, four Nate Kaeding field goals and touchdowns by Keenan McCardell and Michael Turner delivered a 26-17 victory over the Colts at the RCA Dome before 57,389 humbled Hoosiers.

    "Everybody got their money's worth,'' coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "It was a terrific football game."

    Especially if you're one of two things: a Chargers fan or a 1972 Miami Dolphins backer.

    The Chargers (9-5) made sure that '72 Miami squad remains the only modern-NFL team to complete a perfect regular season. Those players celebrate with bottles of bubbly each season when the last undefeated team falls.

    The Chargers' champagne dreams revolved around not only putting a blemish on the Colts' record and gaining revenge for a heartbreaking loss here last year, but also on keeping their playoff hopes alive.

    With the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars winning, the Chargers remained behind in the AFC wild-card race with two games to play.

    "There were a lot of reasons to win this game and none more so than to keep our playoff hopes alive,'' quarterback Drew Brees said. "That is why we are in this thing: to go to the playoffs and win the championship. We're not in it for these big emotional victories against undefeated teams."

    That said, it was a big emotional victory against an undefeated team.

    "We didn't want to be added to the list as one of the teams they beat on their way to their perfect season,'' said running back LaDainian Tomlinson, whose sore ribs sidelined him during the fourth quarter. "You feel disrespected a little bit. It's like, 'Oh yeah, they'll beat the Chargers and their tough test is they got to go to Seattle.'

    "Hey, we got some pride, too."

    They also possess something no one else does: a victory over the 2005 Colts.

    "I think you have to give San Diego credit,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "I've said all along, during this streak, it would take somebody who came in and beat us. And that's what they did. You have to tip your hat to those guys."

    The capper was a mad second half in which the Colts (13-1) rallied from a 16-0 deficit on a Mike Vanderjagt field goal and Edgerrin James' touchdown run and took a 17-16 lead on Dallas Clark's 1-yard scoring catch from Peyton Manning.

    "We knew this thing was going to be decided in the fourth quarter,'' said Brees, whose two third-quarter turnovers led to 14 points.

    But Kaeding's career-best fourth field goal of the game, this one from 49 yards, gave pause to the Colts' comeback. Although that 19-17 lead looked shaky when Brees coughed up another turnover ---- an interception in the end zone that gave Indianapolis the ball at its 20-yard line.

    Manning (26-of-45 for 336 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, four sacks) marched his offense to the Chargers 29 with 3:16 to play. But when Manning flung the ball away to avoid onrushing Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips, he was flagged for intentional grounding, and the game's complexion changed.

    "It was an inside rush, and I beat him to the inside,'' Phillips said. "I didn't bite on the play-action."

    Said Manning: "You hate to take a sack right there. Somehow, we had somebody break loose, the guy was right there, and I wanted to get rid of it and try to avoid the sack."

    When Manning got sacked on the next play by Luis Castillo, the Colts were out of field goal range and kaput of momentum.

    "We got in a little rhythm there for a time,'' Dungy said. "But really they just played better than we did today.''

    With Turner's health being better than Tomlinson's, he was in the backfield after the Colts punted. But after Turner was stopped for a 3-yard loss, he halted the jabbering of an undefeated season when he ripped off an 83-yard scoring run down the right sideline.

    "He's half man, half horse ---- you can't stop the Shetland pony,'' said fullback Lorenzo Neal, who sprung Turner with a fantastic lead block. "The Ferrari was in the garage for a little bit; his tire was a little low, so we pulled out the big Shetland pony."

    Turner found his giddy-up gear and showed why his nickname is "Burner,'' outrunning Jason David to the pylon.

    "I was not going to let that guy catch me,'' said Turner, who finished with a career-high 113 yards. "I was thinking, 'Don't get caught, don't get caught and end this game.' ''

    He squashed the Colts' perfect season, while preventing Chargers doubters from shoveling more dirt on their grave.

    "We have a lot of pride and we want to make the playoffs,'' said Tomlinson, who had 76 yards on 24 carries. "And if we make the playoffs, we feel that anything can happen."

    The Colts would agree.
     

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