RCA Dome. Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts square dance with the San Diego Chargers for a spot at the AFC Championship (game on CBS).
After a shaky first drive by the Colts, in which quarterback Peyton Manning was sacked by Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, tight end Dallas Clark put Indianapolis on the score board with a touchdown. Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson tied the game with a touchdown near the midpoint of the second quarter. Indianapolis then gained a small lead with a field goal. Going into halftime, Colts 10 and Chargers 7.
The third quarter started with a touchdown by Chargers wide receiver Chris Chambers (quarterback Philip Rivers threw a thirty-yard pass that sailed right into the welcoming bosom of Chambers). San Diego 14 and Indianapolis 10. In the bottom of the third quarter, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne brought his team back on top with a TD (it wasn’t ruled a TD until head coach Tony Dungy challenged the out-of-bounds call). A burst of energy by Chargers running back Darren Sproles in the final seconds of the third quarter gave them the lead with 21 to 17 points.
Billy Volek stepped in for Philip Rivers on quarterbacking duties in the fourth quarter. Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez ran for fifty-five yards for a touchdown in the top of the quarter. Norv Turner threw down the red flag, believing that Gonzalez stepped out of bounds, but the TD call stood after a booth review. Many slow-motion instant replays revealed that Gonzalez’s left foot was very much in bounds. Indianapolis reclaimed the lead, 24 to 21. The Chargers grabbed the top bunk again with a TD by Volek with fewer than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Final score: Chargers 28 and Colts 24.
San Diego is going to the AFC Championship game. I’m not a self-identified Colts fan, so why do I feel so sad and slightly ill?
Observations & Miscellania:
1. One of the commercials aired during the top of the first quarter was a new marketing campaign by Oreo cookie. DSRL–starring Peyton Manning and his little bro Eli. Double-stuffed Racing League. Qu’est-ce que c’est? The commercial made me think of that game CrossFire. Do you guys remember CrossFire? I do. I loved it.
2. One of the commentators from last night’s game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots said that the first quarter went by very quickly. The first quarter from this Colts-Chargers game went by pretty fast too. Greg Gumbel pointed it out and Dan Dierdorf responded with, “that’s what happens when the ball doesn’t touch the ground.” And of course, after this remark was uttered, as the first quarter was reaching its last minute on the game clock, Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison lost hold on the ball when Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie slammed into his lower body. The ball rolled out and Chargers safety Marion McCree recovered it.
5. Bob Sanders and Dallas Clark of the Colts and kicker Nate Kaeding of the Chargers were teammates at Iowa Kaeding missed the field goal at the bottom of the second quarter and Sanders skipped over to him and patted him on the shoulders and back of the helmet. Sanders was charged with a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (for taunting). I never noticed it before, but Sanders is a cutie. He’s also approximately a month younger than I am.
6. Antonio Cromartie intercepted a Manning pass in the final minute or so of the second quarter. He ran eighty-nine yards for a touchdown, which was discounted due to a holding penalty on Chargers strong safety Eric Weddle. Norv Turner, San Diego head coach, was fuming.
7. Bob Sanders went down on the turf (on the play after Manning was intercepted a second time near the half of the third quarter; this time by Eric Weddle). Chargers running back Michael Turner went right into Sanders’ torso and then upper right shoulder. The slow-motion instant replays suggested an injury to the right arm/shoulder area.
8. Shots of the spectators revealed an ocean of Colts fans wearing not just blue and white but also Colts jerseys.
9. With fewer than twenty seconds on the clock in the third quarter, the camera cut to a close-up of Tony Dungy. There was a really skinny teenaged kid standing on the sideline wearing a Braves cap.
10. Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t play most of the game due to a bruised knee he sustained in early in the second quarter.
11. When San Diego punted to Indianapolis in the fourth quarter, rather than film from the high angle, long shot press box perspective–the default–the camera ended up following the Colts end-zone-to-end-zone. The camera settled behind the Colts zone and waited for the players to run towards it.
12. Under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Colts possession. I think it was Dan Dierdorf who remarked, “Norv Turner looking to his defense. I think he’s looking for some Maalox.” That comment made me smile.
Get game summary, stats, and play by play here.
Bob Sanders pic cred: Colts.com