It was the final NFL game to be held in the RCA Dome, as the Colts are slated to move into new Lucas Oil Stadium next season. But most in the crowd of 56,950 left the Dome for the final time disappointed.
San Diego got an inspired effort with several of its stars slowed by injuries. LaDainian Tomlinson missed most of the second half, and starting quarterback Philip Rivers left with a leg injury in the fourth quarter.
Journeyman backup Billy Volek led the Chargers to the game-winning touchdown, plunging over from a yard out to give San Diego the lead back with 5:17 left to play.
Peyton Manning took the Colts back down the field, but Indianapolis couldn't score after a first and goal from the nine-yard line with 3:02 left to play. Manning was pressured on the fourth-down play by the Chargers' star linebacker, Shawne Merriman, who outflanked rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh on the play and forced an incompletion.
The Colts would get the ball back with 1:30 left after a three and out by San Diego, but the Colts again couldn't pick up a first down and turned it over on downs once again.
Dallas Clark can't make the play on a pass broken up by Drayton Florence during their last offensive series.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Colts, who were repeatedly hurt by turnovers, penalties and mental errors — factors that normally favor the Colts.
Marvin Harrison returned for the Colts, but caught just two passes for 27 yards and lost a costly fumble.Manning threw for a season-high 402 yards, but also was intercepted twice — once on a screen pass intended for Kenton Keith at the two-yard line. The Colts were ineffective in the running game, and ran the ball just 18 times for a total of just 44 yards. Manning threw 48 passes.
The Indianapolis defense struggled even more, giving up 411 net yards and failing to protect the lead four separate times. Rivers completed 14-of-19 passes for 264 yards before exiting, and had a quarterback rating of 133.2 — nearly 51 points higher than his season average.
Tomlinson had just 28 yards on seven carries, but backup Michael Turner gained 71 yards on 17 totes.
San Diego advances to play at undefeated New England for the AFC Championship next Sunday. The Patriots defeated the Chargers, 38-14, in Foxborough on Sept. 16.