Peyton Manning may have won the NFL MVP award, but he couldn’t lead his team past the first round of the playoffs. One day after accepting his MVP trophy, Manning and the Indianapolis Colts got booted out of the playoffs by the San Diego Chargers.
The two teams found themselves tied 17-17 at the end of regulation. The Chargers won the coin toss and got the first possession in overtime. That would be all that they’d need. Before the Colts could even touch the ball in overtime, Chargers’ running back Darren Sproles sprinted into the endzone to end the Colts’ season.
Sproles, who is actually a Smurf (okay, maybe not, but how do you explain his 5’6″ height?), torched the Colts defense for 328 total yards. He had 105 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving, 106 yards on 4 kickoff returns, and 72 yards on three punt returns. Pretty good for a munchkin.
Sproles only found himself playing when starter LaDainian Tomlinson had to leave the game due to a groin injury. This is the second year in a row that Tomlinson has punked out……..errrr, “been unable to play due to injury”, during the playoffs.
It’s too early to say, but the initial indication is that Tomlinson won’t be able to play next week against the Steelers. Perhaps his injury is serious, but it sounds like a thinly veiled excuse to avoid playing against the bruising Pittsburgh defense.
The Steelers faced the Chargers during week 11 of the regular season. The Steelers won that game 11-10. That game came down to the wire when Jeff Reed hit a 32 yard field goal with 15 second left in the game to seal the victory.
The Steelers actually dominated the Chargers in just about every category during that game. Unfortunately, one of those categories was penalty yards. The Steelers had 13 penalties for 115 yards, while the Chargers only had 2 penalties for 5 yards. It’s hard for a team to overcome 115 yards in penalties, regardless of how well they play.
Despite all of the penalties, the Steelers held the Chargers to less than 70 yards rushing, and held Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers to only 164 yards passing. That’s some pretty stingy defense.
Not only did the defense dominate, the Steelers’ offense also dominated. They gained 410 yards, compared to only 218 yards of offense for San Diego. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 308 yards, Willie Parker had 115 yards rushing, and Hines Ward had 124 receiving yards. As they’d say in London, the Steelers kicked their bloody arses.
Given what happened the first time the two teams played, I don’t think Steelers fans should be overly concerned about Sunday’s game. Sure, they Chargers could win. But I don’t think they will. Not only did the Steelers beat the Chargers before, but this time the Chargers will be without LaDainian Tomlinson. Sunday’s game is also being played in Pittsburgh, a very difficult places for opposing teams to win. Moreover, the forecast is calling for temperatures in the low 20′s next weekend in Pittsburgh. Not ideal conditions for a team from sunny San Diego.
Elsewhere in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens (boo!!!!!) defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-9. The Ravens will now travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
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