Drew Brees was superb behind center. He tossed three touchdowns and his interception wasn't debilitating. Getting sacked when the Bolts could have made the Colts score twice to tie wasn't a heady play and it is the play that separates the winner from the loser.
LaDainian Tomlinson scored twice, once through the air and another on the ground. The reception that traversed 74 yards was his first touchdown receiving this year and the score he netted on the ground marked the 12th game in a row that he has scored a rushing touchdown, a record for most games in a single-season. It was also the longest reception of his career, eclipsing the 73 yard catch he had against Detroit last year.
Eric Parker is showing number one receiver skills. He caught seven balls and passed 100 yards receiving for the second time in three games. Parker had just five catches through his first five games and has caught 42 since then. Kassim Osgood caught two balls, both aiding scoring drives. There aren't many other receivers on the roster who can make plays – something that has not hurt them yet but could if Keenan McCardell remains banged up.
Did anyone else notice that anytime every time the ball came to Antonio Gates that there were three men on his back? Hard to believe that he had any catches. Catch the ball he did, seven times, and in the process got the record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end in NFL history. Looking to next year, he wants to beat the record he just set.
One penalty in a hostile environment is a testament to the line. That and only one sack allowed to a defense that is ranked third in the league. The sack hurt and came on rookie Shane Olivea. Veteran Roman Oben was up to the challenge of league leading sackmeister Dwight Freeney. The run push wasn't up to its usual standards. They should have been able to push the Colts line around but just managed to scrape by instead.
The line did an adequate job at filling up space in the running game. There were times that they too missed tackles. Jamal Williams ate up a number of double teams to free up the linebackers to get pressure. Not much was heard from the right or left side of the line where Igor Olshansky and Jacques Cesaire roamed.
The tackling was horrible throughout the game from this group. Ben Leber could have been the player of the game had he made any of the game-changing tackles that presented themselves – he didn't. He missed James more often than one can count. The rest of the crew wasn't much better as Steve Foley and Donnie Edwards also missed a few open field tackles. Foley, however, was a beast in the backfield, getting three sacks and causing a fumble. Edwards intercepted a pass, batted down two passes and also forced a fumble. Stephen Cooper came on late and became the best tackler on the field in a limited role.
The biggest blow in the secondary wasn't the pass coverage, or lack thereof. It was penalties that decimated the unit. Three different penalties resulted in an extra 15 yards being tacked onto each play. Their coverage was decent and would have been enough to cover any mortal receivers. Manning just knows where his guys will be and the receivers know where the ball will be delivered. Several times they had their men blanketed only to see a reception take place. The Brandon Stokley touchdown was termed a situation where feet got tangled up but it looked like one player took the wrong man. Either way it was the beginning of the end.
The kickoff coverage was abysmal and the culprit in a lost game. The tackling was atrocious and this phase of the game will need to be shored up quickly if the Bolts want to make any noise in the playoffs. It was hard not to feel sorry for Tim Dwight. He got his so hard on each return that I had a concussion. Mike Scifres was not the superman fans have come to expect. Two touchbacks equal the amount he had in the past 11 games combined.
There were a number of truly bizarre calls made by head coach Marty Schottenheimer. From his decision not to kick the field goal to pass plays when they have the best back in the league and time is winding down, Schottenheimer reverted back to his roots and played not to lose instead of playing to win. Wade Phillips gets some credit for pressuring Peyton Manning.
Chargers report card week 16: Indianapolis
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