I'm still sick, so recording 18 Plays just wasn't going to happen this week. Here are some observations after watching the tape:
1. 3-9-SD 38 (11:39) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 85-P.Garcon pushed ob at SD 28 for 10 yards (23-Q.Jammer).
This was a strong game from Garcon, as he made a couple of catches like this on third down. Manning wasn't pressured much early in the game, but this is one of the few plays where he got hit. Devan's man came free and knocked into Manning just after he released the pass. Garcon breaks off his route perfectly along the sideline and shows excellent foot control to get both feet down. The result was a big first down on the opening drive.
2. 3-4-SD 4 (9:22) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 84-J.Tamme for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Indy goes three wide again with Tamme setup TE left. Manning has to step up because of light pressure, but has a clear pocket in front of him. He has Brown and Tamme tightly covered right at the goal line and goes far right to Tamme who has cut across the field. Good coverage by the Chargers, but just an outstanding throw by Manning and good body control by Tamme to get across the goal line. The Colts clearly knew exactly where to attack the Chargers, and the opening drive was pristine. Anyone questioning the Indy game plan simply wasn't paying attention.
3. 1-P.McAfee kicks 70 yards from IND 30 to SD 0. 43-D.Sproles to SD 30 for 30 yards (52-C.Glenn, 50-P.Wheeler). PENALTY on IND-50-P.Wheeler, Face Mask (15 Yards), 15 yards, enforced at SD 30.
The Chargers have a terrible special teams unit, but the Colts were worse. The Chargers had immaculate field position all night long starting with this is opening return. Newton loses contain on the outside allowing Sproles to pick up an extra five to ten yards. Wheeler goes flying by as Sproles attempts to cut back. He foolishly reaches out and grabs his facemask. The result is a drive starting almost at midfield. The defense did a good job holding them to a field goal.
4. 3-2-IND 10 (3:31) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass incomplete short right to 80-M.Floyd.
For all the talk about Freeney having a quiet game, he actually made several plays that didn't show up in the stat sheet. On this play, Freeney got good push with a bull rush and forced Rivers to throw quick. Floyd was bumped off his route by a forearm to the chest by Hayden 7 yards off the line of scrimmage. The result was an incomplete pass and a field goal. Though it worked in the Colts' favor on this play, I'm furious about the lack of illegal contact called in recent weeks. This was clearly an illegal chuck. Granted, it was right on the line in terms of 5 yards, but still. In the long run, it's better for Indy if the officials actually follow the rules. There were several plays like this on both sides, and they simply were not called correctly.
5. 3-5-IND 25 (2:11) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right intended for 87-R.Wayne INTERCEPTED by 99-K.Burnett at IND 29. 99-K.Burnett for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN. WATCH HIGHLIGHT
Indy goes three wide with Wayne in the slot. White is wide left, and Peyton is clearly looking for him, but he can't get open. This sets up the pick. The Chargers fake the blitz with Burnett. Because Manning is looking to the other side, he doesn't see that Burnett never rushed. He steps up due to some pressure, but has room. He then quickly looks to the right and sees Wayne, but not Burnett who has dropped back into coverage. Manning tries to feather a ball into Wayne, but of course Burnett is all over it. The throw itself was terrible. I would rather he tried to go 'over the top' to Wayne. Of course the fact that he didn't see the defender made it worse. It was an easy pick six.
6. 3-4- (15:00) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left intended for 87-R.Wayne INTERCEPTED by 54-S.Cooper [98-A.Barnes] at SD 38. 54-S.Cooper to SD 40 for 2 yards (31-D.Brown).
On the ensuing drive, we get the first of several awful plays by Charlie Johnson who was basically to blame for much of the protection problems on the night. Barnes simply destroys CJ. Manning is looking to the left for Wayne or White and Barnes hits Manning right on the arm just at the moment of release. There's nothing a quarterback can do in this circumstance. It was not a slow developing play, but CJ couldn't even do the bare minimum to protect Manning.
7. 2-8-SD 42 (14:13) (Run formation) 17-P.Rivers pass deep middle to 11-L.Naanee to IND 38 for 20 yards (27-J.Lacey).
Rivers didn't have a lot of outstanding moments, but he showed some nice mobility within the pocket. San Diego didn't get many plays downfield, but this was one where the Indy pass rush just couldn't get home in time, and Rivers eventually found Naanee in the zone. Mathis nearly gets to Rivers and McNeil actually bounces into him. Rivers shows good pocket presence, rights himself, steps up and delivers a good throw to set up a Chargers up in Colts territory.
8. 1-10-IND 11 (11:29) (Run formation) 17-P.Rivers pass short left to 43-D.Sproles to IND 9 for 2 yards (43-A.Francisco, 56-T.Hagler). PENALTY on SD-68-K.Dielman, Personal Foul, 15 yards, enforced at IND 11 - No Play.
Again, we see the impact of Freeney. Freeney gets a good rush around the left end, but almost has his head twisted off by Dielman. This doesn't go down as a sack, but it functionally was. Of course, this happens about 5 times a game without being called, but for once the officials saw it and flagged it. The Chargers ran three give up plays, settled for a field goal and lead 13-7
9. 1-10-SD 42 (7:06) (Run formation) 35-M.Tolbert right tackle pushed ob at IND 37 for 21 yards (43-A.Francisco).
The Chargers final scoring drive of the first half was greatly aided by another horrible officiating moment. The run itself was bounced to the outside by Tolbert who gets around Bethea who fails to keep contain to the outside. This turns a 1-2 yard run into a 21 yard run. Of course, it still might not have been a big play except for an obvious hold by McNeil of Freeney. Freeney is pursuing Tolbert from the backside and nearly has him. Then McNeil loops his arm inside of Freeney's right arm and shoulder pad. Freeney spins awkwardly as his arm involuntarily fails as he's taken to the ground. Atrocious officiating. The Chargers turned the drive into another field goal and a 16-7 lead.
10. 1-10-IND 38 (3:45) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep right to 85-P.Garcon.
This is one that will haunt the Colts. Garcon beats Jammer clean. Manning has a clean pocket and plenty of time to throw. He drops a perfect pass that lands about two yards beyond Garcon. The reason that it lands beyond him is that for no discernable reason, Garcon slows up as soon as he gets past Jammer. Then he realizes that Manning has thrown the ball and turns on the jets, but can't catch up. I don't know what he was thinking or why he slowed up. He was open, and the ball should have been perfectly placed for a touchdown. The next play was another perfectly thrown deep ball to Wayne that went through his hands. Manning had time to throw and delivered better balls than I remembered. The wideouts really failed.
11. 1-10-IND 35 (1:36) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass deep middle to 84-J.Tamme to SD 35 for 30 yards (27-P.Oliver)
After a big stop of the Chargers, the Colts offense jumped back into the game. If there is one route we haven't seen Tamme run effectively, it's the route up the seam in the middle of the field. That was one of Clark's major weapons, and Manning and Tamme hadn't hit it often. On this occasion, Tamme looked EXACTLY like Clark. Manning delevered a low ball right on his hands. Tamme reached down and snagged it, rumbling for a 30 yard gain. This is a good sign going forward. This is the route that will help freeze safeties and open up deep balls.
12 2-10-SD 35 (1:11) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 85-P.Garcon to SD 5 for 30 yards (32-E.Weddle).
Despite his miscue earlier, Pierre Garcon did play an excellent game, one his best of the season. He runs a little slant, and reaches high and a little behind him to snag a Manning pass, and then uses his incredible speed in the open field. He ran the ball with real passion, and you can see his potential on plays like this. He can be dynamic play maker for the Colts if he can eliminate brain locks like occurred earlier in the quarter. His play set up the second Colts' touchdown, and quite frankly there's no reason Indy shouldn't have been leading this game 21-9 at the half. The Colts really looked like the better team, but the big mistakes were just too much.
13. 3-1-IND 1 (9:48) (Run formation) 62-B.Dombrowski reported in as eligible. 17-P.Rivers sacked at IND 12 for -11 yards (68-E.Foster).
Norv strikes again. Instead of running two more times on the goal line, he tries to get cute with a play action fake. Foster doesn't bite and sheds his man as Rivers drops back to pass. At the same time Francisco does a great job picking up the back coming out of the backfield. Rivers has to hesitate, and tries to juke Foster. Foster stays with him for the sack. Angerer was trailing Foster through the hole and would have cleaned up the mess anyway. Terrible play calling by Norv forces the Chargers into a field goal and a 19-14 lead.
14. 3-9-IND 28 (8:33) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right intended for 87-R.Wayne INTERCEPTED by 32-E.Weddle at IND 41. 32-E.Weddle for 41 yards, TOUCHDOWN. WATCH HIGHLIGHT
Well, this is it, isn't it?
The whole freaking game.
The Chargers blitz. Brown is responsible for picking up the blitzer, and basically does a bad job of it. This was one of those 'pressure on Manning NOT caused by the Oline' plays. Wayne had lined up slot left and starts to run a slant but then flattens it out and drags across the formation. Weddle yanks Wayne down from behind and easily picks off Manning's soft toss. Again, this play should have been penalty on the Chargers and a first down out near the Indy 40. Instead, it turned into a 26-14 Chargers lead. Even so, the pass was not good. To me, it looked like it would have been behind Wayne and a dangerous throw anyway. The Colts got jobbed, but this was hardly a stellar effort by Manning who short arms the throw. Of course, Brown's blown block botched the play anyway.
15. 1-10-IND 20 (8:15) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning sacked at IND 14 for -6 yards (95-S.Phillips).
The Colts got the ball back immediately and were unable to generate any momentum as on the first play Linkenbach is ridden back hard into Manning for a sack. Up until the pick six, I had Manning down as being hit twice. After that play, I have him hit 6 times (including the sack). The line went through a rough stretch in the third quarter largely caused by some terrible play by Linkenbach and Charlie Johnson.
16. 4-4-SD 39 (2:31) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short middle to 84-J.Tamme [90-A.Applewhite].
I could have picked the play before which was another damning drop by Wayne, but the fourth down play signaled the end of the line for the Colts. CJ gets beat again, and Manning is hit as he throws. A ball intended for Tamme sails wide as the contact disrupts the throwing motion. The truth is that as bad as the line played, if Wayne doesn't drop four balls there's still a decent shot Indy wins this game. This was one of the worst games of Wayne's career
17. 2-8-IND 18 (12:57) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass short middle to 85-A.Gates to IND 9 for 9 yards (51-P.Angerer).
The Chargers capitalize on the short field to move in for a touchdown to set up the final margin of victory. On this play, we see Angerer's limitations in coverage. Rivers has all day to throw as there is no rush. He finally checks down to Gates who did a little move (in slow motion...the guy is running on one leg). Angerer gets a little lost, leaving Gates open for the reception. Ironically, Gates is the Chargers leading receiver on the night with four catches for 46 yards.
18. 2-14-IND 30 (10:47) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short middle to 42-J.James to IND 35 for 5 yards (54-S.Cooper). FUMBLES (54-S.Cooper), RECOVERED by SD-27-P.Oliver at IND 41. 27-P.Oliver to IND 33 for 8 yards (74-C.Johnson).
The night ends with a whimper as James gets his leg pinned awkwardly underneath himself. The pain (which looked intense) caused him to lose his grip on the ball. Tough play, tough way to end the night.
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