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Turnovers and missed opportunities....sound familiar?
That would be the crux of what has doomed Peyton Manning led teams against SD in more recent games during his career. In total, Manning has faced the Chargers nine times and has an overall record of 4-5. During the last five meetings dating back to the 2007 regular season, he has gone a pitiful 1-4 which also includes two heart-breaking losses in the playoffs.
Before delving deeper into those four specific losses, let's take a closer look at his statline:
16 TD against 18 INT is never a good indication of solid play. The problem with that, 12 of those interceptions have come in three of the last four losses. Let's take a look at each of the last four losses case by case and see exactly what has happened.
Sunday, November 11th 2007: Chargers win 23-21
Six, as in SIX interceptions by Manning and they only lost by 2? Add to this the fact that Darren Sproles opened the game with a kickoff return TD and added a punt return TD and it seems like this game should have been a huge blowout. Here is what the Colt drive flow looked like throughout the game:
Manning INT in redzone, Manning INT, Punt (returned for TD), Manning INT, Manning INT, TD pass to R. Wayne, Missed FG (down at halftime 23-7), Manning INT, TD pass to K. Keith, Punt, Missed FG, Manning INT (hail mary type throw)
If you're looking for that 3rd TD in those drives, it occured when the Colt defense returned a fumble for a TD. Funny thing is, had Vinatieri not missed two relatively routine FG's, this team still could have won! I guess once the mistakes begin, they rollover to other areas of the team and reproduce like cancer. Can't have that many turnovers/mistakes and win the game.
Sunday, January 13th, 2008: Chargers win 28-24
Four key turnovers doomed this game. The first came on a Marvin Harrison fumble in SD territory in the Colts 2nd drive of the game. They had opened up the game with a quick TD and were looking to extend an early lead to double digits. The second came right before halftime when Manning threw an INT when the Colt offense was on the edge of FG range. Those two mistakes at a minimum cost 6 points. In the second half, the Colts marched all the way down to the SD 4 yard line when Manning threw an INT on 3rd and goal. Boom at least another three points. Finally, with a chance to take the lead with little time left, Manning threw an incompletion on 4th and goal from the SD 7 yard line. That turnover on downs sealed the deal. Lost by 4 and left at the very least 12 points out there.
Saturday, January 3rd 2009: Chargers win 23-17.
This one was just a stout defensive showing by SD and some solid ball control by the SD offense. Both of those combinations held the Colts to 10 first half points on four drives. In the 2nd half, a critical incompletion on 4th and 1 from the SD 34 yard line halted what looked like a promising scoring drive. In the 2nd half, the SD punting game pinned Manning deep several times and the Colts were able to muster a go ahead TD to close the 3rd Q/begin the 4th Q. The Colts defense had the opportunity to hold, but allowed a game tying drive. The dagger in the heart came at the hands of Darren Sproles in OT, as he scampered in for the game winning TD. Manning never saw the ball in OT.
Sunday, November 28th 2010: Chargers win 36-14
The final game we're going to take a look at in this article was quite simply: ugly. The running game never got going and only gained 24 yards. Add to that the fact that Manning threw four interceptions and that two of them were returned for TD's, and you have a recipe for being routed.
So what can we take away from this looking ahead to Monday night?
- When Manning makes mistakes, they come in bunches. We already know that from the Falcon game when three consecutive drives ended with an INT.
- The SD defense for whatever reasons, have matched up well with what Manning/Colts like to do offensively.
- Turnovers are a killer, if we have multiple turnovers Monday night, we should lose the game.
- The running game seemed to make minimal impact. Three out of the four losses were relatively close games throughout. We should look to run a bit more if for nothing else it keeps the Chargers from getting too comfotable defending only one form of attack.
I wish there were something else I could say Broncos fans. Fact of the matter, the Colts have lost these games because they had way to many turnovers and committed way to many mistakes. If we limit both of those things, our team will have a very good shot at a W come Monday, GO BRONCOS!!!