While there were different opinions on who would win Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Chargers, most people expected a high-scoring affair considering two of the NFL's top-four scoring offenses were facing off.
The predictions proved true, as the teams combined for 65 points, four more than their combined season averages. Unfortunately, the Chargers lost a late second-half lead, falling 34-31 in overtime in front of 57,330 fans at the RCA Dome. The Colts gained their eighth-straight win and the third seed in the AFC playoffs, while snapping the Bolts' eight-game win streak.
Both tight end Antonio Gates and quarterback Peyton Manning broke long-standing NFL records. Gates’ four-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was his 13th of the season, giving him the NFL record for single-season touchdown catches by a tight end.
Manning, on the other hand, passed Dan Marino for the most single-season touchdown passes in NFL history. Manning's three-yard scoring pass to running back James Mungro in the third quarter tied Marino’s record, while wide receiver Brandon Stokley's 21-yard catch in the fourth quarter gave Manning 49 touchdown passes this year.
As well as Manning played, especially late in the game, Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer thought the contest came down to special teams play. The Chargers allowed running back Dominic Rhodes to return six kickoffs for 236 yards (39.3), including an 88-yarder for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut into the Bolts’ 15-point lead and swung the momentum in the Colts’ favor.
“The sad part about it is that we lost the battle of field position because we didn’t cover kickoffs worth a damn,” Schottenheimer said after the game. “That is what ultimately enabled the Colts to beat us today. That’s one of the things that makes (the loss) so disappointing.”
The Chargers silenced the Colts’ crowd early in the game. Indianapolis marched to the Bolts’ six-yard line on the 11th play of their opening possession. With the crowd anticipating Manning’s record-tying touchdown pass, linebacker Donnie Edwards made his fifth interception of the season on the four-yard line.
With 4:59 left in the first quarter, quarterback Drew Brees passed to running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who outran the Colts’ defense for a 74-yard touchdown. Nate Kaeding’s extra point gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead.
Mike Vanderjagt put the Colts on the scoreboard with a 36-yard field goal five minutes later to make the score 7-3.
After wide receiver Tim Dwight’s 19-yard kickoff return, Brees passed to wide receiver Kassim Osgood for a 30-yard gain into Colts’ territory. Three plays later, Kaeding kicked a 50-yard field goal that put the Chargers up by seven points.
On the Bolts’ following series, Brees found Parker three times for 40 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown completion with 7:09 left in the first half. The extra point stretched the Chargers’ lead to 17-3.
The Colts rebounded with a 60-yard kickoff return by Rhodes. Manning’s 17-yard pass to Hartsock gave Indianapolis a first down on the San Diego 14. Yet, the Colts couldn't convert in the red zone. Manning's incomplete pass set up Vanderjagt’s 26-yard field goal with 4:33 remaining before halftime.
Less than two minutes later, Manning passed four times for 61 yards to give Indianapolis a first down on the San Diego 14. James rushed twice for nine yards before fumbling on third-and-1 from the five-yard line. Center Jeff Saturday recovered the ball for no gain, and Vanderjagt attempted his third field goal, which he made from 23 yards to cut the Colts’ deficit to 17-9 near halftime.
“We did a great job in the red zone,” Schottenheimer said after the game. “They were one-for-five in there. I talked at the meeting last night that it was going to come down to which team played better at or inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Unfortunately, I did not factor in our inability to cover kickoffs.”
Gates scored his record-breaking touchdown on the Chargers’ first drive of the second half. Lined up as a fullback, Gates caught a four-yard shovel pass from Brees and rumbled into the end zone to give the Chargers a 24-9 lead. After the game, Gates was modest when asked about his touchdown record.
“Obviously, it was an individual accomplishment, and I’ve always been a team player,” Gates said. “I think it would’ve been better if we got the win today.”
Coaches often call the NFL a copycat league, and the Colts did nothing to dispel that notion on their ensuing drive when Manning threw a shovel pass to Mungro for a three-yard touchdown with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
Holding onto a 24-18 lead, the Chargers put together an 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive. Gates caught three passes for 15 yards, while Tomlinson rushed six times for 45 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run. Kaeding’s extra point gave the Bolts a 31-16 advantage, but it didn’t last for long.
Rhodes returned Kaeding’s kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to bring the crowd to its feet 18 seconds into the final period of play.
Martin Gramatica’s kickoff bounced out of bounds, and the Chargers started their ninth series from their 40-yard line. Brees moved the offense into Indianapolis territory on three completions for 27 yards, but defensive end Dwight Freeney forced Brees to fumble on third down from the 25-yard line. Offensive tackle Shane Olivea recovered it for a nine-yard loss, leading to a punt.
On the potential game-tying drive with 9:25 remaining in the game, Manning connected on four passes for 55 yards. Linebacker Steve Foley stopped the drive, though, when he sacked Manning for an eight-yard loss on third down. Vanderjagt tried to shorten the Chargers’ 31-23 lead, but his 47-yard field goal missed wide left.
After the Bolts punted on their second consecutive drive, the Colts were in a difficult position with a fourth-and-4 from their 26-yard line with 2:15 left in the game. The punt team walked on the field, but Manning waved them off. The decision paid off when wide receiver Reggie Wayne hauled in a 19-yard catch down the Bolts’ sideline. Three completions later, Manning broke Marino’s record on his pass to Stokley. James ran in for the two-point conversion to tie the score 31-31 with 56 seconds on the clock.
Although Manning etched his name into NFL history with his touchdown pass, Chargers players spoke more about the fourth-down play after the game.
“That was all No. 18,” Edwards said, referring to Manning leading the game-tying drive. “It seemed like he’s the one that told the coach, ‘No, we’re going for it.’ I saw him do that, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow. Talk about some (guts).’ Give him credit. It was a great throw, a great catch.”
On first down from the San Diego 27, Parker made an acrobatic 22-yard catch to midfield, but landed in bounds with less than 50 seconds on the clock. Brees almost used the Bolts’ last timeout, but opted to spike the ball, forcing him to wait for Parker to get back to the line of scrimmage. The Chargers spent a timeout anyways because Parker was injured.
“It was like a double whammy,” said Brees, who stopped the clock with 20 seconds remaining. “You look back on it and say, ‘Well, I wish we could’ve just called a timeout right away, or spiked it right away and run off the field.’ Everything that could’ve gone wrong in that situation did.”
After the timeout, Brees’ pass to Gates was intercepted by linebacker Rob Morris. An illegal block penalty on the interception return gave the Colts a first down on their 34-yard line, where Manning knelt down to bring the game into overtime.
Indianapolis received the kickoff, and moved into San Diego territory on second down when Manning found Stokley for a 23-yard gain. Wayne caught a 35-yard pass on the next play. After James rushed for no gain, Vanderjagt kicked the 30-yard game-winner.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Sunday, December 12, 2004
The Chargers are urging fans to make Qualcomm Stadium one of the toughest place for NFL opponents to play. Fans should arrive at the game early and cheer loud before, during and after the game.
The San Diego Chargers (9-3), leaders of the AFC’s Western Division and winners of six in a row, host the NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Qualcomm Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:15 p.m. PST.
The Chargers have become one of the hottest stories of the National Football League’s 2004 season. The team’s six-game win streak is the second-longest active streak in the league behind Pittsburgh, which has won 10 in a row. The Bolts just finished a stretch which few would have predicted, winning three straight AFC West games, including road wins at Oakland and Kansas City, and last Sunday’s home win over Denver.
The Chargers are winning games with a balanced offense and an aggressive, attacking defense. San Diego is the only team in the NFL with a quarterback who has thrown 20 touchdown passes (Drew Brees, 21), a receiver with 10 touchdown catches (Antonio Gates, 11) and a running back with 10 rushing scores (LaDainian Tomlinson, 13).
San Diego’s defense is ranked second in the league against the run and has forced its opponents to try to beat them through the air. The defensive scheme worked as planned last Sunday against Denver as the Bolts intercepted a season-high four passes in their 20-17 win.
The Chargers own a two-game lead over Denver in the AFC West and are aiming to reach the postseason for the first time since 1995. San Diego’s final four games include Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, followed by road games at Cleveland (3-9) and Indianapolis (9-3), and the season-ender at home against Kansas City (4-8). One thing assured for the Bolts is a winning record, the team’s first since 1995.
The power surge in San Diego has been engineered by quarterback Drew Brees, who has become a leading candidate for NFL Most Valuable Player and Pro Bowl honors. To say that Brees has been phenomenal this season would be an understatement. He’s the NFL’s fifth-highest rated passer, having thrown for 2,564 yards and a career-high 21 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Halloween has never been so sweet.
And Drew Brees, with his career-high five touchdown passes, has never looked so good.
The fourth-year quarterback put the Chargers on the board early and often against the rival Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon, leading the Bolts to a 42-14 romp in front of 66,210 dressed up fans at Qualcomm Stadium.
Brees broke team records in completion percentage (88) and passer rating (153.1) and threw touchdowns to four different receivers. On two different occasions, he completed at least seven passes in a row.
The only time Brees looked stumped on Sunday was after the game when someone asked him if he’d ever played a better game. And even then he didn’t have to think for too long.
“Yeah, I have in college one time,” Brees answered. “It was against Minnesota during my sophomore year. I was 31 of 36 for 522 (yards) with six TDs. But from a numbers standpoint, (today) looks pretty decent.”
In all, the Chargers’ offense was scary. They registered 33 first downs, gained 175 rushing yards and didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter when they already held a 42-14 lead.
The offensive performance overshadowed another stellar defensive showing. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ unit forced three turnovers and allowed only 22 rushing yards.
“We knew going into this game we had to stop the run with Tyrone Wheatley back there,” linebacker Randall Godfrey said. “They kept playing, but we were doing a good job of stopping the run. We went out there and played a game where all three units played well.”
After the Raiders punted on the first series of the game, the Bolts began from their 34-yard line after wide receiver Eric Parker’s 24-yard punt return.
On first down, tight end Antonio Gates lined up wide left and caught a 16-yard slant route to midfield. Two plays later, Brees made his second completion to wide receiver Keenan McCardell for 24 yards. On the following play, Brees found tight end Justin Peelle for a 17-yard touchdown that helped give the Chargers a 7-0 lead with 11:22 to go in the first period.
San Diego’s offense came back on the field less than two minutes later, marching 66 yards on nine plays to the Raiders’ 15-yard line. But Peelle fumbled after catching a short out route and safety Marques Anderson recovered it on the nine-yard line.
With 3:45 remaining in the opening period, Parker cut back down the Chargers’ sideline for a 32-yard punt return to the Raiders’ 29-yard line. Brees’ eighth-consecutive completion to start the game went to fullback Lorenzo Neal for 12 yards. An illegal contact penalty on cornerback Nnmadi Asomugha put the Chargers on Oakland’s nine-yard line. With the crowd chanting “LT,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson dove in from one yard to cap the seven-play, 24-yard scoring drive.
Down 14-0 at the opening of the second quarter, the Raiders moved into the Chargers’ red zone on three catches for 50 yards by wide receiver Doug Gabriel. Running back Tyrone Wheatley scored from five yards out to cut the Raiders’ deficit in half.
Brees and Tomlinson continued their strong play when the Chargers’ offense started their fourth drive. Tomlinson rushed four times for 21 yards, while Brees passed for 32 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to McCardell. Nate Kaeding’s extra point made the score 21-7 with 4:56 remaining in the first half.
“Keenan is one of those guys that’s a good matchup for us,” Brees said. “He’s a playmaker and we want to get him the ball. You try to take him away, how are you going to cover Gates? If you try to take Gates away, how are you going to cover (Eric) Parker? If we bring Tim (Dwight) in the game, Kassim (Osgood), LT and the list goes on.”
The Bolts made the first takeaway of the game minutes later when safety Clinton Hart stepped in front of quarterback Kerry Collins’ pass intended for wide receiver Jerry Porter. Hart sprinted 13 yards to the Chargers’ 47-yard line.
Buoyed by the turnover, San Diego’s offense made quick work of the Raiders. Brees found wide receiver Eric Parker open in the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain, and on the next snap wide receiver Tim Dwight hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass to put the Bolts up 28-7 with 36 seconds left in the half.
The Chargers opened up the second half from midfield after Dwight’s 50-yard kickoff return. Brees took over from there, completing all three of his pass attempts for 47 yards, including a five-yard scoring pass to Gates that pushed San Diego’s lead to 35-7.
After the Raiders’ fourth punt of the game, the Bolts’ offense continued their onslaught. They gained 31 yards rushing on six carries and Brees passed for 37 yards on three completions.
On fourth down from the one-yard line, Brees lofted a pass to Gates in the back right side of the end zone for his fifth touchdown pass of the game. It made the score 42-7 with 3:12 to go in the third quarter.
Kaeding’s ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds giving the Raiders the ball at their 40-yard line. Collins then completed six of seven passes for 70 yards, finding tight end Doug Jolley for a 13-yard touchdown reception to cut San Diego’s lead to 28 points at the end of the third quarter.
The Chargers punted for the first time of the game on their next drive, but the offense returned to the field less than a minute later after defensive end DeQuincy Scott’s third-down sack of Collins.
With the game well out of reach, Oakland came close to shortening San Diego’s lead in the final 15 minutes, but cornerback Sammy Davis intercepted Collins’ pass for Gabriel in the end zone with 2:25 left in the game.
It was Davis’ first interception of the season.
“Once I got that interception, I couldn’t get up fast enough to try and get to the other end zone,” Davis said. “I was trying to get in the record books on that one, but it just didn’t happen that way.”
On Oakland’s final drive, linebacker Donnie Edwards forced running back Amos Zereoue to fumble. Rookie linebacker Shaun Phillips recovered to preserve the 42-14 win.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
``We've got a long way to go, so let's not get excited by one win,'' coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
So lets keep up the good work guys and continue to defy the odds!
Monday, September 06, 2004
Phil Bogle, Robb Butler, Jonathan Cox,Brock Edwards, Jerton Evans, Kevin Dyson, Malcom Floyd, Howard Hodges, Reese Hicks, Carlos Joseph, Kwamie Lassiter, Otis Leverette, Jerrell Pippens, Justin Riley, Chad Ward.
On a better note, we finished off the preseason with a win.. but like most other teams we are 2-2.. So I guess just time will tell how we do.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Date Opponent Time/Result
Aug. 14 Indianapolis 10:00 p.m.
Aug. 21 at Arizona 10:00 p.m.
Aug. 27 Seattle 10:00 p.m.
Sept. 2 at San Francisco 11:00 p.m.
Date Opponent Result
Sept. 12 at Houston 1:00 p.m.
Sept. 19 New York Jets 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Denver 4:05 p.m.
Oct. 3 Tennessee 4:15 p.m.
Oct. 10 Jacksonville 4:05 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Atlanta 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Carolina 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 31 Oakland 4:15 p.m.
Nov. 7 New Orleans 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 14 Open Date
Nov. 21 at Oakland 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Kansas City 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 5 Denver 4:05 p.m.
Dec. 12 Tampa Bay 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 19 at Cleveland 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 26 at Indianapolis 1:00 p.m.
Jan. 2 Kansas City 4:15 p.m.
All times are Eastern