Monday Night Football! Prime time! After a great win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Colts were facing another difficult challenge. This time on the road against one the most hated teams for the Colts fan base: the San Diego Chargers.
The Colts 3-game winning streak – where everything was going their way – came to an ugly end. There was plenty of blame to go around in their 19-9 loss in San Diego, so let's see how the Colts' three units fared, and try to pick out each unit's standout performer.
The Colts FINALLY had a nice start. This time, their first play was a flea flicker pass to Reggie Wayne that gained 35 yards. Colts would get a FG. Not bad. Sadly, it would be their best drive of the day.
Their next three drives were pretty bad. All of them ended in punts,in large part due to players doing what would end up being the offense's biggest problem of the game: dropping passes. Luck threw a deep pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. It was a bit overthrown – the ball hit his out-stretched fingers – but he showed little effort in trying to make a play. It would've put the Colts inside the Chargers 20. On the very next play, T.Y. Hilton – the man who everyone lamented wasn't on the receiving end of the previous pass – would drop one too.
On their final drive of the first half, with less than :45 to go, Fleener had the worst drop of the entire game. Fleener was WIDE OPEN and had a chance to take it inside the Chargers' red zone and maybe even more. Instead, the Colts would end up kicking a FG, making it 10-6 at the half.
In the 2nd half, on 3rd and 3 from San Diego's 40, Reggie Wayne would drop yet another pass that would've given the Colts a 1st down. Well, at least it's 4 down territory, right? After all, a punt might only gain 20 yards from there. And the Colts have Luck, Wayne, Hilton and Trent Richardson. You're also down by 7. GO FOR IT!
Yeah, no. Chuck Pagano decided to play it "safe". The Colts punted and put SD on their own 10. That's right. A 30 yard punt. Ugh. That call was as frustrating as any of the dropped passes.
In the 4th quarter, down by 7 with 4:27 to go, the Colts started their most important drive of the game with, guess what, a dropped pass. This time by Trent Richardson. With 3:44 to go, they faced a 4th and 2 on their own 17. The way the Chargers were moving the ball, it was easy to tell this might be the last time the Colts were going to have the ball with a chance to tie the game. But Pagano OBVIOUSLY decided to punt. SD would get a 19-9 lead in their following drive. Game over. Luck would get another drive but it ended with an interception. Who knows what Chuck or Pep Hamilton were trying to accomplish.
There were very few positives after this game. Reggie Wayne had his 1000th reception. Brown/Richardson had a few nice runs here and there, but they would end up with a miserable 55 yards on the ground combined. Luck didn't get any help from his WRs as they just dropped too many passes in key situations. Chuck Pagano didn't help either. He decided to punt twice when he should've gone for it. One was on SD's 40 yard line and the other was in what would be their final drive with a chance to tie the game. Those decisions were just ridiculous and inexcusable. After both punts, the Chargers would kick FGs to increase their lead to 10. Finally, scoring 9 points against one of the worst defenses in the league was pathetic too. It was easily their worst game of the year.
Offensive player of the game: Reggie Wayne
He had a big drop in the game but he finished with 88 yards and most importantly, his 1000th career reception. Congrats, Reggie!
The defense had a nice start, forcing two punts on their first two drives.
They played under the "bend but don't break" idea the entire game. Fortunately, they allowed just one TD. Unfortunately, Delano Howell was completely lost on that TD. Keenan Allen not only got the score, he also had over 100 receiving yards. He abused this defense the entire game.
Overall, the Chargers had no problem moving the ball down the field. They wouldn't score many points, but once they got the lead, they managed the game well. San Diego finished the game with 24 first downs and 38:31 minutes of time of possession. No wonder why this defense looked exhausted at times.
Greg Toler was abused all game long. Brown, Gates or Allen, it didn't matter. You throw it in Toler's direction and good things are going to happen for your offense. He also had two penalties.
The defense could only sack Rivers twice and wouldn't get a single turnover. The way the Chargers moved the ball makes you wonder what's going to happen next week against the best offense in the league.
Defensive player of the game: Antoine Bethea
Bethea finished with 7 tackles. Most importantly, he wouldn't make any mistakes. Not amazing, but it was near to impossible to find a decent guy for this award.
Sadly, Pat McAfee didn't have a good day. He had two terrible punts. One of those had a lucky bounce. The other was his final punt of the game. Down, 16-9 (after Pagano's horrible decision to punt it) on their own 17, the Colts needed it to at least be a good punt. It got to San Diego's 49 yard line. They would end up getting the FG that sealed the game.
Adam Vinatieri had a great day. He had 3 FGs, including kicks from 50 and 51 yards respectively.