There was a steady line of fans leaving Lucas Oil Stadium with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter of this nationally televised match up. The only question I have is what took them so long to leave?
After looking like they meant business on their first possession in which they drove 78 yards to open the scoring with a touchdown, the Indianapolis Colts came back to reality and were given an old fashioned whipping by San Diego, and in the process lost for the third time in their last four starts by a count of 36-14.
While Peyton Manning would engineer two touchdown drives in the first half, San Diego’s defense pitched a shut out in the second half and in the process, made Manning look like a mere mortal at quarterback, intercepting him four times on the night and returning two of those for scores.
Manning was quick to shoulder the blame for the lack of offensive productivity.
“It was difficult for us the entire game. I did not do a particularly good job to say the least,” Manning said.
But Manning had plenty of company in the underachievement department, as the Colts played without passion on defense and allowed San Diego to move the ball at will, both on the ground and in the air.
The overall lackluster performance was an obvious disappointment to Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as he was no doubt looking to get back on track after a tough loss to New England the week before. “We were not sharp at all tonight and you cannot give a team like San Diego 20 points on turnovers,” said a rather stoic Caldwell after the game. “Our defense did hang in there and forced then to kick field goals initially, but you need touchdowns against these guys,” he said.
Phillip Rivers continues to be the story for the Chargers as they won their fourth straight game. The seventh year quarterback was razor sharp, completing 19 of 23 passes on the night, and combined with a stout rushing attack, San Diego controlled the middle of the field all night long.
Indianapolis could not run the football as evidenced by a paltry 24 yards of net rushing and could also do nothing to stop the Chargers from gaining yards on the ground when they needed to.
NOTES: Overall this was an embarrassing display of football by the home team and it casts a huge doubt on their ability to right the ship and even make the playoffs. The latter does seem realistic considering how weak the AFC South has become, but the Colts have issues on both sides of the football and it does not seem likely they can correct all of that this year.
Peyton Manning threw 44 times completing 31 of them for 285 yards. The chilling statistic though was 4 interceptions including the aforementioned two returned for touchdowns.
Jacob Tamme continues to play well in the absence of Dallas Clark.
Tamme caught seven passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Conversely, Reggie Wayne was again M.I.A. with just five grabs for 42 yards and nothing to speak of deep. What has happened to this prime time player? Wayne if you recall contemplated holding out for a new contract before the season.
Has this gifted player suddenly hit the wall and become an after thought?
San Diego’s Mike Tolbert ran hard and easily accumulated 103 yards rushing against a porous Colts run defense. San Diego totally neutralized Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis as well, and as a result, gave Rivers plenty of time to dissect the Colts secondary. All in all, it was just too easy for the Chargers.
While the Lucas Oil Stadium was again packed, how much longer will the fans continue to flock to see this type of football? There were plenty of tickets for sale outside before the game, with many going below face value.
Hats off to the Colts organization for stepping up and donating a nice check to the Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving meal. Various other players also donated personally to needy families and provided them with everything they would need to have a good meal. Guys, you can win Super Bowl titles, but you will never stand taller than you do when you help your fellow citizens in the community. I salute you for your efforts and admire your generosity.
The Colts will entertain the Dallas Cowboys at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 5 in a nationally televised game that can be seen on WXIN 59.
The kickoff is slated for 4:15 p.m. The radio broadcast can be heard on 97.1 FM as well as 1070 AM.
Danny Bridges, who thinks the Colts will sneak into the playoffs and exit early, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.