Chargers Eliminate Colts in Overtime

Over the last month, the San Diego Chargers have become well versed at battling from behind and overcoming long odds. Those lessons came in handy on Saturday, as the Chargers rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime, 23-17.

The Chargers came into Saturday's game with lingering injury concerns, eerily similar to last season's playoff run. While the results provided a bit of déjà vu for LaDainian Tomlinson (groin) -- who left the game after just five carries -- they were much better for Antonio Gates.

Gates (ankle), who had never topped 30 yards receiving in any of his previous five meetings with the Colts, led the team with eight catches for 87 yards. Two of those catches came on San Diego's final drive of regulation, helping set up Nate Kaeding's game-tying 26-yard field goal.

The real star on offense was Darren Sproles, who exploded for 328 all-purpose yards. Sproles carried 23 times for 105 yards and two TDs, marking the second consecutive week he topped 100 yards rushing and scored multiple touchdowns.

RB Darren Sproles
Stephen Dunn/Getty

Sproles' only miscue was a fumble at the Indianapolis 2-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. While the turnover negated a golden opportunity for the Chargers to tie or take the lead -- they were trailing at the time, 17-14 -- it served as a good omen for Coach Norv Turner.

"The guy who typifies out season, without a doubt, is Darren Sproles," Turner said. "When that [fumble] happened, there wasn't any doubt in my mind he would come back to make a play to change the game. You just knew that was what he was going to do, because he wasn't going to leave the game with that fumble on his mind."

Turner's hunch proved prophetic, as Sproles replaced that image with one of him dashing into the end zone for the game-winning 22-yard TD in OT.

A litany of other players made their marks on the game. Tim Dobbins sacked Peyton Manning on third-and-2 with just over two minutes remaining; had the Colts converted, Manning could have kneeled his way to victory. Then there's Mike Scifres, who landed four punts inside the 10-yard line; on three of those four occasions, the Chargers scored on their subsequent offensive possession.

In the end, it was San Diego's ability to overcome adversity that made all the difference. The Chargers allowed three sacks (two by Robert Mathis and one by Dwight Freeney); Philip Rivers threw and interception in the end zone; Sproles lost a fumble in the red zone; and Manning was given a free 72-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne when the Chargers defense was caught in a substitution.

Fortunately, no one overcomes adversity better than the San Diego Chargers. They've been doing it all season long and don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

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