Indianapolis Colts- San Diego Chargers
Returning to Qualcomm Stadium for the second time in seven weeks to face a familiar playoff foe, the Indianapolis Colts, 12-4, meet the San Diego Chargers, 8-8, on Saturday, January 3 in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs.
Kickoff for the contest, telecast nationally by NBC Sports and broadcast coast-to-coast by Westwood One, is 8:00 p.m. (EST)/5:00 p.m. (PST).
The Colts and Chargers met on November 23 of this past season, as Indianapolis earned a 23-20 last-play victory over San Diego. The contest was the first since the clubs met in the Divisional Playoffs last January 13, a contest won by the Chargers in the RCA Dome, 28-24.
The Colts, the AFC’s fifth-seeded playoff team, closed regular-season play last Sunday with a 23-0 victory against Tennessee. The Chargers, the fourth-seeded team as the AFC West champions, bested Denver last Sunday, 52-21.
This will be the sixth meeting between the clubs since December, 2004.
The Colts have earned their seventh consecutive playoff berth,
The Colts reach postseason play with nine consecutive victories.
Indianapolis (2003-08) produced eleven-plus victories for the sixth consecutive year, joining Dallas (1976-81) as the only teams to accomplish that feat. Indianapolis (2003- 08) extended its NFL mark to six consecutive seasons with 12+ victories, a record previously shared with Dallas (4 seasons, 1992-95).
The club’s streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances spans Head Coach Tony Dungy’s tenure in Indianapolis. Dungy has guided his 10th consecutive team to the playoffs (1999-01, Tampa Bay; 2002-08, Colts), a mark that sets the post-Merger NFL record for the most consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach (9, Tom Landry, Dallas, 1975-83). Overall, Dungy has guided eleven of his 13 teams to playoff appearances.
The Colts have extended their streak of double-digit victory seasons to seven, tying the second-longest streak in NFL history (16, San Francisco, 1983-98; 7, Dallas, 1975-81). Indianapolis produced a nine-game winning streak over the last half of the season, making the franchise the only one in NFL history to win seven or more consecutive regular-season games in five consecutive seasons (8, 2004; 13, 2005; 9, 2006; 7 and 6, 2007; 9, 2008).
Owners of the NFL’s best regular-season record (114-46) since the start of the 1999 season, while being the only team to earn nine playoff appearances in the last 10 seasons, Indianapolis has won 59 of its last 73 regular season games.
Indianapolis’ winning ways include a 32-10 record in AFC South play, while the club has owned or shared the lead in 95 of 119 weeks of the division’s existence. The Colts won five AFC South championships from 2003-07, the best divisional-title streak in club history. Indianapolis is the only NFL team to have double-digit victory totals and playoff appearances each season since the 2002 NFL Realignment.
COLTS TEAM OFFENSIVE NOTES…
2008 OFFENSIVE NOTES
*The Colts rank 3rd in AFC passing offense, 5th in the NFL.
*The Colts rank 2nd in the AFC and 3rd in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass play, allowing one sack per 42.8 attempts. The ratio for sacks per pass play marks a new Colts record.
*The Colts have converted 11 of 16 fourth-down conversions, 68.8%. That conversion percentage ranks 3rd in the AFC and 4th in the NFL.
*The Colts offense ranks 1st in the NFL in TD% inside the red zone, scoring a TD 68.0% of the time (33/50).
COLTS OFFENSE HAS CONTINUED TO RANK
AMONG NFL’S BEST
*The Colts have finished in the top four in NFL scoring offense eight of the last 10 years.
*The Colts have finished in the top three in AFC passing offense for 11 consecutive seasons, leading the conference six times in that span.
*The Colts have finished in the top six in NFL passing offense for 11 straight seasons, leading the league in 2003 and 2004.
*The Colts have finished ranked in the top 10 in NFL total offense for nine of the last 10 seasons. In eight of those 10 seasons, the Colts have ranked in the top five in NFL total offense, including six years in the top three.
*Third-down conversion percentage has been a factor in the Colts’
offensive success. The Colts have converted third downs at the highest rate in the NFL each of the past four seasons, and have ranked no worse than 8th in the NFL since 1999. The Colts set an NFL record with a 56.1 conversion rate in 2006.
COLTS TEAM DEFENSIVE NOTES…
2008 DEFENSIVE NOTES
*The Colts surrendered only six passing touchdowns, an NFL record for the fewest passing TDs allowed in a 16-game schedule (record was nine by Denver in 1978 and Pittsburgh in 1990).
*The Colts are the only team to rank in the top-five in the AFC in pass offense (3) and pass defense (3) and one of two teams to rank in the top six in the NFL in pass offense (5) and pass defense (6)-(Phi., 3/6).
*The Colts finished in the top 10 in NFL pass defense for the third consecutive season, marking the first time since the 1970 NFL Merger that the team has finished ranked in the top 10 three consecutive seasons.
*The Colts defense is 3rd in the AFC and 3rd in the NFL in TD% inside the red zone, allowing a TD 40.4% of the time (19/47).
*In Head Coach Tony Dungy’s seven seasons with Indianapolis, the Colts have ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense five times.
What to look for
ï‚· The Chargers are looking for win No. 10 in their playoff history. San Diego is 9-14 all-time in the postseason. The Chargers are 1-1 against the Colts in the playoffs. The Chargers are 5-7 all-time in playoff games played in San Diego.
ï‚· This is the Chargers’ sixth night game at home this season. The Bolts are 4-1 at home this season under the lights and are averaging 36.8 points a game. This includes their most recent nighttime outing, a season-ending 52-21 pasting of the Denver Broncos. San Diego’s other night time victories include a 48-29 win over the New York Jets, a 30-10 decision over New England and a 34-7 win over Oakland.
ï‚· The Chargers are 2-1 against the Colts in nationally-televised night games. The victories include a 31-0 win on Monday Night Football in 1992 and a 23-21 win on Sunday Night Football in 2007.
ï‚· The Chargers come into the playoffs riding a four-game win streak. Three times in the last five years (since 2004), the Chargers have had a win streak of at least eight games. It would take four more wins, including one Saturday against Indianapolis to win the Super Bowl.
What to look for – offense
ï‚· Last season, Philip Rivers rebounded from one of his worst statistical outings against Indianapolis in the regular season, with his best of the postseason. Rivers, who is 2-1 against the Colts as a starter, was just 13 of 24 for 104 yards and two interceptions (30.6) when he met the Colts on a rainy night during the 2007 regular season, but in the playoffs, he was a cool 14 of 19 for 264 yards and three TDs (133.2 rating) before leaving the game with a knee injury. When the Bolts and Colts met this November, Rivers was again on his game, completing 24 of 31 for 288 yards and two touchdowns (126.8).
ï‚· Wide receiver Vincent Jackson really turned his game up in the 2007 postseason, recording 18 catches for 300 yards and two scores, including a 7-93-1 TD performance against Indy in the Divisional Playoffs. Jackson’s aerial assault continued into 2008 as he led the team with 1,098 yards, hauling in 59 catches and scoring seven touchdowns. All were career highs. Jackson’s 18.6 yards per catch average was the highest in the NFL among the top 50 reception leaders.
ï‚· Darren Sproles comes into the playoffs on a roll and his role may take on even more significance if LaDainian Tomlinson is slowed by a possible groin injury. Last week against Denver in relief of Tomlinson, Sproles racked up his second-career 100-yard rushing game with 115 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a 13-yard reception. Always dangerous, whether handling the ball on offense or special teams, Sproles has had tremendous success against Indianapolis, including a 56-yard touchdown catch in the Divisional Playoffs and a two-touchdown game during the 2007 regular-season, scoring on a 45-yard punt return and an 89-yard kickoff return. Sproles totaled 2,297 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns in 2008, including 330-1 as a rusher, 342-5 as a receiver, 249 as a punt returner and 1,376-1 on kickoff returns.
What to look for – defense
ï‚· Antonio Cromartie has four of his 14 career interceptions, including playoffs, against Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning. Cromartie had a team-record-tying three-interception performance against the Colts in an NBC Sunday Night Game in San Diego in 2007. In the Divisional Playoff Game, Cromartie forced a fumble against Marvin Harrison early in the game that led to a possible 10 or 14-point swing. Up 7-0, the Colts were driving for a potential score when Cromartie forced the fumble. San Diego recovered and drove for a touchdown to make the score 7-7. In that same game late in the first half, Cromartie also had an interception and apparent 89-yard TD return. While the runback was called back by a holding penalty, the interception stood.
ï‚· Fellow cornerback Quentin Jammer had his second interception this season against Indianapolis on Nov. 23.
ï‚· Defensive tackle Jamal Williams has saved some of his best games for the Colts. In the ’07 regular-season meeting, Williams tallied a season-high nine tackles, including one for loss. In this year’s regular-season tilt, Williams again tacked on a season-high with seven stops, including one for no gain, one for a loss and a five-yard sack. Williams had a career-high 10 TFLs in 2008.
ï‚· With Williams anchoring San Diego’s run defense, the Colts have rushed for just 75, 44 and 91 in the last three meetings with the Chargers. Including Indianapolis, the Chargers held seven of their 16 opponents under 100 yards rushing this season.
What to look for – special teams
ï‚· Mike Scifres, who averaged a team-record 40.9 net yards per punt this season, has been a great weapon for the Chargers in games against Indianapolis. In last year’s regular-season meeting, three of Scifres’ five punts landed inside the 20 and he posted a higher net average (46.0) than gross (45.0), as Indianapolis had -5 yards in returns. In the playoffs, his 66-yard bomb late in the game helped seal the win. And earlier this year, he was called upon only three times, landing one inside the 20 and allowing only six total yards in returns.
ï‚· David Binn, the Chargers’ 36-year-old long snapper in his 15th NFL season will play in his 249th career game (regular and post-season) on Saturday night. Already the team-record holder for most games played, Binn is the lone holdover from the Chargers’ 1994 AFC Championship team. Since Binn joined the Chargers in 1994 as a free agent from Cal-Berkeley, more than 100 long snappers have come and gone across the league, yet Binn has missed only one game in his 15 seasons.
OFFENSE RANKING…………….. DEFENSE RANKING
…….Total Rush Pass CONF.* NFL…. Total Rush Pass CONF.* NFL
Chargers 349.0 107.9 241.1 4-12- 4* 11-20- 7… 349.9 102.6 247.4 12- 6-16* 25-11-31
From NFL and Team Press Releases