Chargers lose heartbreaker, 34-31

The San Diego Chargers went into Indianapolis in hopes of securing the better seed in the playoffs. While records were tied and broken, the most important part of the game was the win. The Colts scored 15 unanswered points to tie the game at 31-31 and send it into overtime. . The Colts drove down the field quickly and Mike Vanderjagt hit from 30 yards out to get the win and giving the Bolts the fourth seed in the playoffs

A huge pass on fourth and four to Reggie Wayne at the two minute warning of the fourth quarter put the Colts back in business. Manning went 6-for-8 on the drive and hit Brandon Stokley for the touchdown, Manning's record setting 49th of the year, passing Dan Marino in the process. A two-point conversion by Edgerrin James tied the game at 31-31.

Drew Brees then threw an interception to Robert Morris which was returned into field goal range but a block in the back meant overtime was on the agenda.

Manning then hit Brandon Stokley for a 23 yard reception and followed it up with a pass to Reggie Wayne to put the ball in field goal range. Mike Vanderjagt then hit a 30 yard field goal to win the game.

A late hit out of bounds by Terrence Kiel on Edgerrin James helped a team that needs no help. Kiel hit James after a short run and pushed the ball well into San Diego territory on a drive that started at the Colts eight. Manning began the game by going 4-for-6 but deep in San Diego territory, Donnie Edwards picked off Manning to save a potential score.

Brees followed the interception by hitting LaDainian Tomlinson running a slant route. Tomlinson reached behind him to snare the ball out of the air with his left hand and never broke stride, running 74 yards down the field to put the Chargers up 7-0.

The Colts than drove down the field in unconventional fashion – they ran the ball. James and Dominic Rhodes gained fifty yards on the first seven runs. The Bolts offense than buckled down and limited the Colts to a 36 yard field goal from Vanderjagt.

The Chargers opened up the next drive with a 30 yard pass from Brees to Kassim Osgood. They could not extend the drive much further and went to Nate Kaeding for a 50-yard field goal attempt which he nailed to put the Bolts up by seven.

The Bolts forced a three and out and quickly came back into scoring position when Brees hit Eric Parker twice for 21 yards. After an 11-yard run by Tomlinson, Brees hit Parker in the back of the end zone from 19 yards out to put the Bolts up 17-3.

A sixty yard kickoff return by Rhodes put the ball at the San Diego 36 on the ensuing possession. But the Bolts again held and Indianapolis settled for a 26 yard field goal.

The Colts were driving again as the two-minute warning hit. Manning hit Brandon Stokley for 13 yards and 30 yards with a 15-yard face mask on Drayton Florence mixed in. Manning followed it up by hitting James for 12 to get into the red zone. A fumble by James inside the five on third and short meant the Colts had to kick their third field goal of the first half to make it 17-9.

The Bolts' first possession of the second half opened with a 23-yard pass from Brees to Parker and a 15-yard face mask penalty that was tacked on to put the Chargers well into Colts' territory. A trick play resulted in a seven yard loss but Brees hit old reliable for 21 yards on third and eighteen. A strike to Osgood set up first and goal. A shovel pass to Gates and the Bolts went up by 15 with the big tight end getting the record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end in the history of the NFL.

A 36-yard strike from Manning to Marvin Harrison setup the Colts next drive. Two defensive penalties on the Bolts helped out and Manning took a page out of the Bolts playbook with a shovel pass of their own from three yards out to James Mungro to make the score 24-16. With the touchdown pass, Manning tied the record for most touchdowns in a single season at 48, tying Dan Marino.

The Chargers used up the last six minutes of the third quarter and on the first play of the fourth, the Chargers scored from 16 yards out on a Tomlinson run. His second touchdown of the game capped an 11-play, 71-yard drive. Brees was 4-for-4 on the drive and Tomlinson had 45 yards rushing while the Bolts converted three third down attempts.

Rhodes brought back the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to make the score 31-23 and bring the Colts back within eight.

Martin Gramatica booted the kickoff out of bounds and a Tomlinson screen crossed midfield. Brees then threw his first incompletion of the second half but he followed it with a 12-yard strike to Parker to put the ball on the Colts' 37. After the Bolts got well into field goal range, Brees took a sack that took the Chargers out of range and forced them to punt, up by eight with just over nine minutes to go.

The Colts drove down the field into field goal range but a Steve Foley sack forced the Colts to attempt a 49-yard field goal which hit the left upright and went wide with four minutes and 47 seconds to go. The Chargers could only take a minute and five seconds off the clock before giving the ball back to Indy.


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