The Indianapolis Colts were in the red zone, looking for a touchdown to win the game or possibly tie the game to go into overtime with the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning dropped back, got hit from the side. It looked as if he was aiming for Pierre Garcon in the end zone, but the ball was intercepted. Game over, Patriots win, 31-28. But this shows Indianapolis can win games despite being totally banged-up. Just think how good they could be if all their players were there. If Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Bob Sanders, and all those guys who are looking to return sometime this year were there. I have all confidence in Indianapolis in the playoffs now if they face New England somehow.
But now, the Colts are at 6-4. They need to avoid another loss as they host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday Night. The Colts are 4-0 at home and they are looking to stay undefeated. While the Colts struggled, the Chargers are looking hot since beating the Houston Texans. Now at 5-5 and back in the race for the AFC West title, can they get the Colts? There has been a great rivalry between these two teams. Sunday Night will be the battle of the offenses and which quarterback can perform better. Is it Peyton Manning or Phillip Rivers? We’ll see.
The rivalry all started between these two teams in the 2005-06 season. The Colts were 13-0 entering the game, but lost to the Chargers, 26-17, and fell to 13-1. They would finish up the season 14-2. Then they would face the Chargers in the 2007 season. They lost 23-21 in the regular season, as Manning threw six interceptions. Indy came back, but Adam Vinatieri missed a possible game-winning field goal. Then the Colts lost to the Chargers in the playoffs, 28-24, after Manning failed to get a touchdown inside the ten. Indy would face San Diego in 2008, winning off a game-winning drive set up by Manning. But Indy would wind up losing in the playoffs, 23-17, off a game-winning score by Darren Sproles in overtime.
“They are a team that creates problems for you just in terms of matchups,” coach Jim Caldwell told the Colts’ official website. “It’s been a real battle with them throughout the years as well.”
Manning has struggled versus the Chargers, having a 77.5 overall rating against them since 2005. The Colts are 1-4 in the last five match-ups against San Diego. The Chargers have played solid defense in each game. But with the way Indy has been playing this year, Manning is paying a lot closer attention to see how the Chargers are going to play.
“I think that the 3-4 defense helps us defensively. I think that we’ve done a good job giving them a lot of different looks so we’ve been able to get pressure,” Chargers’ head coach Norv Turner said. “And then we’ve been able to score points and keep the ball and that’s a big part of playing good defense.”
The Colts are tied in the AFC South with the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Chargers trail one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts plan to get the Jaguars back at home in a few weeks after losing by a 59-yard-field goal by Josh Scobee to give Jacksonville a 31-28 win. The Chargers got killed by the Chiefs in Week One of the regular season.
Manning has struggled in his last three games. It started in Philly when Manning threw two picks. The Colts had a chance to win, down 26-24. But Manning threw an interception to Asante Samuel to end the game. Although the Colts won against the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-17, Manning kept struggling offensively as there were many three-and-outs in the second half. Manning failed to do anything and he was lucky his defense stepped up in that game. Against New England, Manning threw the interception in the final minute of the game. Manning can’t commit these mistakes anymore.
“Peyton knows we’re behind him 100 percent because we’ve seen him time and time again win games for us,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said.
Manning will be without two of his favorite targets. Austin Collie will be out, though he played last week against the Patriots. Collie would leave the game during the second half as it was not safe enough for him to play. And, of course, tight end Dallas Clark is out for the year. Rivers will have Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, however, returning. But Manning will find ways to win as he still has Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, and Jacob Tamme to rely on.
Another good thing for the Colts is that Joseph Addai may finally be returning. Addai’s last game was a 128-yard performance in the Colts’ 27-24 win over the Washington Redskins. Addai is 600 yards away from cracking the 1,000-yard milestone, something he hasn’t cracked since the 2007-08 season. But if he gets at least 800 yards for the year, that’s good enough. It’s Week Eleven, and he has a lot of time. Addai has also shown he is a fierce in the passing game, which will also help Manning.
The Colts have an advantage here, as they are 4-0 at home while the Chargers are 1-4 on the road.
“They have disappointed us in a few seasons knocking us out of the playoffs,” Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. “So definitely, the rivalry is starting to brew with San Diego, and they are picking it up like they usually do in the second half of the season.”
But now it is Indy’s turn to pick up. They need to step up in this game.
I look forward to a win in this one.