Final/OT

Colts 17

(12-4, 6-2 away)

Chargers 23

(8-8, 5-3 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:00 PM ET, January 3, 2009

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
IND 7 3 7 0 017
SD 0 14 0 3 623

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (IND) - 310 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: D. Sproles (SD) - 22 CAR, 105 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Wayne (IND) - 4 REC, 129 YDS, 1 TD

Speedy Sproles charges San Diego past streaking Colts

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Darren Sproles ran off the field clutching the game ball, leaving Peyton Manning to hang his head in frustration.

The San Diego Chargers outdid Manning for the second straight January, again turning to surprise stars to spark them along in the playoffs.

Fast Facts

• In the 25th overtime game in NFL postseason history, the Chargers won it on Darren Sproles' 22-yard touchdown run on the opening possession, helping San Diego knock the Colts out of the playoffs for the second straight year.

• The Chargers improved to 2-1 in postseason overtime games, winning for the first time since beating the Dolphins in the 1981 divisional round.

• Sproles racked up 328 total yards, third-most in a playoff game behind Ed Podolak and former Charger Keith Lincoln. Sproles recorded 105 rush yards, 45 receiving yards, 106 kick return yards and 72 punt return yards.

• Peyton Manning finished 25-of-42 for 310 yards and a touchdown, his sixth career 300-yard game in the postseason.

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

Given more playing time because of LaDainian Tomlinson's groin injury, the speedy little Sproles scooted 22 yards for the winning score 6:20 into overtime and the Chargers beat the Colts 23-17 in an AFC wild-card game Saturday night.

Just like that, a Chargers team that sneaked into the playoffs at 8-8 eliminated the NFL's hottest team a day after Manning won his third Associated Press NFL MVP award.

Also keeping the Chargers in the game was Mike Scifres, whose booming punts continually pinned the Colts deep in their territory. Scifres punted six times for an average of 52.7 yards, including a 67-yarder.

"I don't know if you can dream a game like this," Scifres said after the Chargers ended the Colts' nine-game winning streak.

Sproles came up big on a night when the Chargers played the final 2 1/2 quarters without Tomlinson, who stood on the sideline in obvious discomfort from what appears to be a serious groin injury.

Fifty years after the Baltimore Colts won the first overtime game in league history by the same score over the New York Giants for the NFL title, Indianapolis wasn't so fortunate. It was victimized by Sproles, who rushed 23 times for 105 yards, caught five passes for 45 yards, had 106 yards on four kickoff returns and 72 on three punt runbacks.

End Of The Road

The Colts came into Saturday's loss riding a nine-game win streak, the longest such streak by a wild-card team entering the playoffs in NFL history. Here's a look at the others on the list and how they fared:

Longest Win Streak by Wild Card Teams, Entering Playoffs
Team Streak Result
'08 Colts 9 Lost
'87 Saints 9 Lost
'00 Ravens 7 Won
'95 Lions 7 Lost
'94 Patriots 7 Lost

"It's disappointing to lose a playoff game," said Manning, who two years ago led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears. "We certainly had some chances to win, but give them credit. We had chances to put the game away, but we just didn't do it."

The Chargers (9-8) won the overtime toss. Indy's Darrell Reid called heads, but referee Ron Winter's flip came up tails. Sproles sent the Chargers into the second round of the playoffs, either at Tennessee or Pittsburgh, by finishing off the only series of overtime with his TD run around left end against an exhausted defense for the Colts (12-5).

San Diego's winning drive was aided by two defensive holding calls, the second against Tim Jennings on third-and-8. On the next play, Colts linebacker Clint Session was whistled for grabbing Sproles' facemask. Sproles scored on the next play, shedding a defender at the 5-yard line.

"You know, when your number is called, you have to be ready," said Sproles, who earlier in the game fumbled into the end zone, with the Colts recovering.

"Right after that fumble, it was still kind of in my mind," Sproles said. "I wanted that TD back to make up for the fumble."

Sproles' TD run sent Qualcomm Stadium into bedlam, and he ran off the field with the game ball. Manning hung his head in disappointment.

"We played hard till the end, but those guys played even harder all the way through the game," Colts safety Bob Sanders said.

It was San Diego's fifth straight win, and the Chargers needed the previous four victories to secure the AFC West title with an 8-8 record. San Diego was the ninth team to enter the playoffs with an 8-8 record and became just the third to win its opener. The Chargers had gone 0-5 against teams that made the playoffs, including a 23-20 loss to the Colts here on Nov. 23.

Last season, the Chargers pulled off a 28-24 upset at Indianapolis in the divisional round after Philip Rivers and Tomlinson both went out with knee injuries.

San Diego Chargers Indianapolis Colts

NFL.com Video

Watch highlights from the San Diego Chargers' 23-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

This was the fourth time the teams met in two seasons, and the sixth in five years. The Chargers have won four of the six.

San Diego got its only sack at a key time, when Tim Dobbins dropped Manning at the Colts 1 on third down with 2 minutes left, forcing a punt and giving the Chargers the ball at the Indy 38.

Nate Kaeding kicked a 26-yard field goal with 31 seconds left to force overtime.

It was the 25th overtime game in the postseason, including one game in the AFL. The last overtime game in the playoffs was last season's NFC title game, won by the New York Giants and Manning's little brother, Eli, against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

Still, Manning caught the Chargers napping on a 72-yard touchdown play that for a while seemed as if it was going to stand as the winner.

Facing third-and-5 from the Colts 28, Manning quickly lined up and took an immediate snap that caught cornerback Antonio Cromartie so flat-footed he was looking at the Chargers' bench when receiver Reggie Wayne went speeding past him and safety Paul Oliver. Wayne caught Manning's pass at the Chargers 45 and was gone for a 17-14 lead.

The Colts came up with two turnovers in the end zone. Sproles was hit at the 2-yard line and fumbled into the end zone late in the third quarter, with Raheem Brock recovering.

Rivers kept San Diego's next drive alive with a 13-yard scramble followed by a 1-yard sneak on fourth down, but then overthrew Chris Chambers in double coverage and was intercepted in the end zone by Antoine Bethea.

The teams traded TDs early, with Indy's Joseph Addai scoring on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter and Tomlinson scoring on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter, his last play of the game. The Colts went ahead 10-7 on Adam Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal midway through the second period before Sproles' 9-yard run just before halftime put the Chargers ahead 14-10.

Manning was 25-of-42 for 310 yards. Rivers was 20-of-36 for 216 yards, with one interception.

Tomlinson was hurt a week earlier in a 52-21 rout of Denver.

"From the first run, it was evident that I just didn't have the burst," said Tomlinson, who gained 14 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage. "I couldn't put my foot on the ground and get through the hole the way I wanted to. I went as long as I could. After the TD run, it was at the point where I felt like I was making it worse."

Scifres had punts of 51 yards to the 10, 58 yards to the 15, 50 yards to the 3, 67 to the 5, 38 to the 9 and the 52 to the 1 with 2:41 to play.

"I think that their punter is the MVP of the game," Colts running back Dominic Rhodes said. "He did a real good job of putting us deep in our territory, and their defense did a good job of keeping us there."

Game notes


Kaeding injured his groin when he slipped on the kickoff following Tomlinson's touchdown. ... San Diego TE Antonio Gates, playing on a sprained ankle, had eight catches for 87 yards, including consecutive 11-yard receptions on the tying drive in the closing seconds of regulation.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
IND
SD
1st Downs1726
Passing 1st downs
1112
Rushing 1st downs
511
1st downs from penalties
13
3rd down efficiency
6-156-14
4th down efficiency
0-11-1
Total Plays6573
Total Yards366357
Yards per play5.64.9
Total Drives1212
Passing302190
Comp-Att
25-4220-36
Yards per pass
7.04.8
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-84-27
Rushing64167
Rushing Attempts
2233
Yards per rush
2.95.1
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-12-4
Penalties9-743-40
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession29:1137:09

Passing Leaders

INDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning25/423107.4101-8
SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers20/362176.0014-27

Rushing Leaders

INDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Addai16442.8111
Rhodes4123.005
SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Sproles221054.8222
Tomlinson5255.0113

Receiving Leaders

INDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Wayne412932.3172
Gonzalez69716.2036
SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gates88710.9030
Chambers45714.3025

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERINDSD
indTD3:02Joseph Addai 1 Yard Run (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 81 yds, 5:02
70
SECOND QUARTERINDSD
sdTD10:18Ladainian Tomlinson 3 Yard Run (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 44 yds, 2:18
77
indFG6:51Adam Vinatieri 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 42 yds, 3:29
107
sdTD0:47Darren Sproles 9 Yard Run (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 45 yds, 2:19
1014
THIRD QUARTERINDSD
indTD8:16Reggie Wayne 72 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 91 yds, 1:32
1714
FOURTH QUARTERINDSD
sdFG0:33Nate Kaeding 26 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 30 yds, 1:17
1717
OVERTIMEINDSD
sdTD8:48Darren Sproles 22 Yard Run
Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yds, 6:20
1723