By Dave Thomas
Coming into their Monday Night Football contest with the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts, the San Diego Chargers averted a last-minute blackout in their hometown.
Thanks to enough tickets being sold in the 25th hour, the game was shown locally. In doing so, the Chargers gave those that did not make it out to the stadium something to cheer about.
Four Nick Novak field goals (including a 50-yard strike late in the game to put San Diego up by two scores) and a 22-yard touchdown pass from expectant father Philip Rivers (Rivers’ wife was expecting their seventh child at any moment) to rookie Keenan Allen led the Chargers to a 19-9 victory over the Colts. The win pushed San Diego to 3-3, while Indianapolis dropped its second game of the season.
Which Charger Team Would Show Up?
Coming into the game, the Chargers were looking to shed their image of a Jekyll & Hyde team.
As the storyline has gone to date this season, the Bolts have been trading wins and losses through six games, with this their third big win of the season (Beat NFC East leading Philadelphia and Dallas in September).
After a dismal first half performance in Oakland a week ago (Raiders led 17-0 at half, won 27-17), the Chargers looked more like a team on a mission on this evening. A defense that gave up 30 or more points to both Houston and Philadelphia earlier in the season held a strong Indianapolis offense to a mere nine points.
What made the win even more enjoyable for the Chargers and their faithful was the dominance displayed in the stats.
San Diego had 24 first downs to Indy’s 12, the Bolts dominated time of possession (38:31 to 21:29), and the home team limited the Colts to a mere 74 yards rushing on the night (Trent Richardson led the way with 40 yards on 10 carries).
While there is no guarantee San Diego will match this intensity effort when it travels to winless Jacksonville next Sunday for a meeting with the 0-6 Jaguars (Chargers at times play to the level of their opponents), Bolt fans had to be happy with what they saw on this Monday night.
As noted, Chargers dominated the clock, a key to victory over Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck was 18-of-30 for 202 yards, but he was held without a touchdown on the night (see San Diego’s defense below). Much maligned running back Ryan Mathews had a strong performance, gaining 102 yards on 22 carries. Most importantly, Mathews did not cough up the ball, something that has stung him in the past.
With starting wide receiver Malcom Floyd out for the remainder of the season, Cal product Keenan Allen continues to shine. The former Golden Bear (game’s lone touchdown) had nine receptions for 107 yards. Throw in some key receptions from Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates, and the Chargers had just the right mix of run and pass to keep Luck on the sidelines for much of the evening.
The Chargers defense held an Indy team to nine points, this after the Colts tallied 34, 37 and 27 points in their last three games (all wins). Derek Cox and Manti Te’o led the way with five solo tackles each, while Eric Weddle (four solo stops) and Kendall Reyes (one sack) also came up big. Overall, great team effort by a defense that gave up 28, 30, 20, 21 and 27 points through its first five contests.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.