Chargers Recap: Bolts Squander Late Lead In Loss To Colts 26-22

Credit: NewsDay
Credit: NewsDay

Indianapolis Colts 26, San Diego Chargers 22

The San Diego Chargers headed to Indianapolis for a battle against the 0-2 Colts. Even coming off their week 2 performance where they dismantled the Jaguars, the Bolts were still underdogs against Andrew Luck and company. Both teams weren’t without key injuries but the Chargers were without Antonio Gates (dealing with a hamstring injury), Joey Bosa (also with a hamstring and has yet to play), King Dunlap didn’t play because of Illness.

It was a pretty sloppy game for both teams and once again the Chargers failed to finish the game, resulting in a loss. Philip Rivers had a pretty off game as well, and the offense scored a touchdown just once in four trips to the redzone. Let’s take a look at how the game unraveled.

First Quarter:

Colts got the ball first and were gashing the Chargers run defense with Frank Gore on the first drive. The Colts have not had a 100-yard rusher in 58 straight games. It was looking like Gore was going to hit that mark in the first half, but wasn’t utilized as much in the second half and finished with 82 yards on 21 carries. Luck was hitting his tight end duo of Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle frequently as they moved into field goal range. The Chargers finally held firm and the drive ended with a Adam Vinatieri field goal.

A three-and-out by the Chargers gave Luck the ball back and it was more of the same for them. A heavy dose of Gore but Luck was able to hit T.Y. Hilton for a nice gain. The Bolts defense held again and Vinatieri hit a 55-yarder but the Chargers were flagged for unsportsmanlike penalty which extended the drive. A few plays later Frank Gore punched it in to extend the lead to 10-0 Colts.

Inside linebacker and Charger Captain Manti Te’o went down on this drive with a non-contact injury. Looks like an achilles injury but the extent of the injury is unknown. Rookie Jatavis Brown, took over for Te’o and was able to make some nice plays for the Bolts.

Second Quarter:

The Chargers sustained a nice drive but on a 3rd and 1, Rivers went play-action and had a wide open Melvin Gordon in the flat but under-threw him. Josh Lambo would convert on the field goal to make it 10-3 Colts.

Next drive for the Colts, Luck was picked off by Casey Hayward, who now has three interceptions on the season, and set up the offense for what should have been easy points. Starting on the six yard line, D.J. Fluker was called for a holding penalty pushing the offense back to the 16. Next play Rivers missed Dexter McCluster in the endzone on a wheel route, a throw I’ve seen Rivers connect with time and time again. Another Lambo field goal made it a 10-6 game.

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

The Colts drove down the field again but the Chargers defense would not break, leading to another Vinatieri field goal. With a 13-6 lead, the Colts were doing whatever they wanted offensively and looked to close out the half with another score, but Jatavis Brown strip sacked Luck and Defensive lineman Caraun Reid scooped the ball up and the big man rumbled and stumbled (quite quickly) to the endzone for the score. Completely changing the momentum of the game before half and tying the score at 13 all.

Third Quarter:

The Chargers kept that momentum on their first drive of the half, putting together a great drive including some nice catches by the rookie tight end Hunter Henry, starting for the injured Gates. Melvin Gordon would punch it in from the two, but our old friend Antonio Cromartie partially blocked the extra point attempt by Lambo, 19-13 Chargers lead.

Colts came storming back and pick on Jason Verrett who had a tough time guarding the speedy T.Y Hilton. Hilton had a couple of big plays on the drive and on 3rd and 1 the Chargers were flagged for Pass Interference, but it was a bushleague call. The refs were pretty garbage all day to be honest, on both sides, not an excuse but they were. With a new set of downs, Robert Turbin scored from a yard out and with a successful extra point took a 20-19 lead.

Chargers couldn’t answer and Travis Benjamin dropped an easy third down conversion to halt the drive.

Fourth Quarter:

Travis Benjamin muffed a punt but Verrett was there to scoop it up, but looked shaken up on the play with a lower body injury but did return later. Benjamin would redeem himself later on the drive when Rivers hit him perfectly on a deep ball that would have set them up inside the 10 yard line but Rivers was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Here’s what Rivers had to say about the flag:

Credit: Jeff Lahn/ Getty Images
Credit: Jeff Lahn/ Getty Images

“”That’s the most unfair penalty I’ve ever gotten. I’ve never gotten one like that. I’ve never gotten one for really doing nothing. It maybe was the cleanest thing said on that field today and he (the official) was 30 yards away. From what I hear, it looked like nothing on the TV, but I don’t know.”

Pretty b.s call! That put the Chargers in tough spot. Three pass attempts later,Bolts had to settle for a FG and Lambo connected on his third field goal to put the Chargers in front 22-20.

With just under seven minutes left in the game, the Chargers were driving and picking up a couple key first downs trying to finish the game. On a 3rd and three, Rivers missed Benjamin on a cross pattern, one that should have been an easy throw and catch to move the chains. Chargers were forced to give the ball back to Luck with 2:29 on the clock and needing just a field goal.

Colts would convert on a 4th down right after the 2-minute warning. A couple plays later Luck would hit Hilton again over the middle and that’s all she wrote, 63-yards later Hilton gave the Colts the lead. They would go for two, but were unsuccessful.

Chargers would try to attempt one last effort but Hunter Henry fumbled the ball after a nice catch and run. Chargers falter again late, 26-22 Colts over the Bolts.

Chargers will come back home and face an old friend in Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Going to be another tough game for the defense but hopefully they can fix some small mistakes and execute a lot better!

Just want to add something that goes beyond sports, we lost two great individuals Sunday. Rest in Peace to Jose Fernandez, one of the bright young stars of the MLB, only 24 years old. Also Rest in Peace to “The King” Arnold Palmer. Tough day in sports and beyond.

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Nick Small
Nick was born and raised in San Diego where he became a Chargers and Padres fan, attending numerous home games throughout the years with his dad. He then went on to attend college at the University of Arizona. There he earned his degree in marketing and now lives in San Francisco where he dreams of the the sunny beaches of San Diego. Bear Down.

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