Chargers 23, Colts 17: Darren Sproles Reminds Us That Size Doesn't Matter
There's going to be puh-lenty of analysis about Saturday night's game between the Colts and Chargers. Most of it will center around two things: Darren Sproles and the eliminated league MVP, Peyton Manning. Sproles, of course, was beyond magnificent, piling up an absolutely insane 328 total yards (receiving + rushing + returning) as LaDanian Tomlinson was forced to the sidelines after the first quarter with a torn groin muscle (no one, by the by, should begrudge him this).
Philip Rivers was not all that spectacular, but neither was Manning; in fact, it was a game that really focused on some impressive defense and some odd choices re: coaches' challenges. Tony Dungy really had no business trying to get Reggie Wayne's catch back and, as a result, he couldn't try and flip Chris Chambers' probably-not-a-grab a few plays later.
Additionally, there was a whole bunch of bizarre business regarding a phantom "restored timeout" with 16 seconds left in regulation after Nate Kaeding finally didn't shank an important postseason kick.
But back to Sproles -- the kid was awesome from the start, and it was easily apparent at halftime that he deserves more credit for being an all-around back rather than just a kick returner. That type of flash continued throughout the second half -- one shoddy fumble near the goal line with the Chargers trailing aside -- and rolled right into overtime, when, following two crucial penalties by the Colts, Sproles ripped off a large touchdown run that quashed the Colts Super Bowl hopes and locked him in for some serious money later on.
It's probably worth noting, too, that the Bolts were considered a horrible matchup for Peyton and Co. (note: they were). Obviously it looks like anyone who thought so, myself included, was right, and it appears Dungy and the Indy defense will be headed back to the drawing board. San Diego will be headed to face -- if you believe the "experts" -- the Steelers, in a game that is instantly intriguing, if only because it features two quarterbacks from the same draft class in Ben and Phil.