In most playoff scenarios involving the San Diego Chargers, running back LaDanian Tomlinson would be an integral part of their gameplan; unfortunately for San Diego in their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night, Tomlinson was rarely used as he was suffering from a problematic groin problem. But the Chargers had a solution to that problem in the form of Darren Sproles; Sproles would play a big part in San Diego eliminating Indianapolis from the playoffs with a 23-17 victory.
The Colts drew first blood when Joseph Addai scored on a 1-yard run, giving Indianapolis an early 7-0 lead; however, the Chargers would respond as Tomlinson ran 3 yards into the end zone, tying the game at 7 with 10:18 left in the first half. Nearly 3 1/2 minutes later, Adam Vinatieri nailed a 43-yard field goal, putting Indianapolis up 10-7. With 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Sproles scored on a 9-yard run, giving the Chargers a 14-10 advantage – which they would take into halftime.
Indianapolis would strike back at the 8:16 mark of the third quarter when Colts quarterbacl Peyton Manning connected with Reggie Wayne on a 72-yard pass for a score, allowing the Colts to regain the lead at 17-14. The fourth quarter would prove to be key for San Diego as linebacker Tim Dobbins sacked Manning at the Colts 1-yard line, forcing a punt and giving the chargers the ball at their 38. Nate Kaeding would kick a 26-yard FG with 31 seconds left, sending the game into ovetime.
The Chargers would march down the field in the extra period, with the assistance of defensive penalties by the Colts, including a facemask by the Colts’ Clint Session and a holding call against Tim Jennings. Sproles would score the winning touchdown on the next play. Rivers went 20-of-36 for 217 yards and an interception while Manning had a decent outing as he went 25-of-42 for 310 yards and a TD.
Sproles led the potent Chargers rushing attack as he ran for 105 yards with 2 TDs while Addai led the Colts rushers with 44 yards and a score. Antonio Gates led the San Diego receivers with 8 receptions for 87 yards while Chambers caught 4 passes for 57 yards; Reggie Wayne led all Indianapolis receivers with 4 receptions for 129 yards and a TD while Anthony Gonzalez caught 6 passes for 97 yards. The win sends San Diego to face either Tennessee or Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs, while Indianapolis goes home empty-handed.