Chargers look to strike down Colts

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

By Clark Judge

Game of the Week

San Diego at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

So now it’s San Diego that picks up the slingshot.

The Chargers aren’t given much of a chance here because a) the Colts haven’t lost; b) Indianapolis is at home and c) the Chargers travel three time zones to get there.

But be careful: San Diego wasn’t given much of a chance last year, either, and the Chargers should have beaten Indianapolis there. Instead, their special teams cost them a victory, and they succumbed in overtime.

The Chargers are a good team; they’re just not as good as Indianapolis. Of course, nobody is. The question is: Can San Diego be better than the Colts for one afternoon? It all depends on running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

If he’s the back he was against Miami, forget it; if he’s the back he was against Washington when he sliced, diced and spliced the Redskins for 184 yards, the Chargers might pull the upset.

And here’s why: To beat the Colts you must minimize the damage done by Peyton Manning and Co. That means you either act like Chicago or Tampa on defense, or keep the ball from Manning. The Chargers will choose Door No. 2.

With Tomlinson, they have the ability to sustain drives and control the clock. That’s critical when you have the league’s 27th-ranked pass defense. Yes, San Diego’s numero uno against the run, but that’s because everyone — including Miami’s Gus Frerotte — is cashing in frequent flyer miles against them.

When Manning faced them last year he threw for 383 yards, yet the Colts were lucky to win. Manning will get his yards; the Colts will get their points. But San Diego can pull the shocker if Tomlinson gains substantial yardage on first and second down.

The key against Indianapolis is avoiding third-and-long, especially on a turf that plays to the speed and quickness of defensive end Dwight Freeney. Few give the Chargers a chance, but they haven’t lost a game by more than four points since Sept. 26, 2004. Plus, Manning doesn’t have a 300-yard game at home this season.

Mano a mano: San Diego’s cornerbacks vs. Marvin Harrison. The Colts wide receiver has scored in his past four games at the RCA Dome and has produced 100-yard efforts in two of the past three. The Chargers are vulnerable to the pass, and nobody makes bigger catches than Harrison. A week ago it was a 65-yard score. Two weeks before that it was an 80-yarder against Pittsburgh.

The key for San Diego is pressuring Manning into hurried throws. You’re probably not going to reach him, but you can harass him. If the Chargers fail, count on Harrison and Reggie Wayne to make guest appearances in the end zone.

Injury update: The Colts probably will be without defensive end Robert Mathis (foot) and defensive tackle Corey Simon (foot). Coach Tony Dungy said the two would be held out “unless they miraculously recover and are 100 percent by Sunday,” which means you can scratch both. But that’s not all. Linebacker Cato June (knee, groin and ankle) is questionable, and now that the Colts clinched the home-field advantage Dungy can keep him on the bench, too.

San Diego tackle Roman Oben (foot) won’t play again, and safety Bhawoh Jue (knee) might not, either. If Jue is sidelined, look for Clinton Hart to step in. Hart had a forced fumble and interception in his last start.

Something to consider: The Colts have scored in 31 consecutive quarters and have not trailed in 438 minutes and 16 seconds. Oh, yeah, they have also won 21 of their past 22 regular-season games.