|Bolts need to beat Manning again to keep playoff run alive|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 07 January 2008 14:48|
They did it in Indianapolis in 2005 to ruin the Colts' 13-0 start. They did it in San Diego in mid-November, when Manning threw a career-high six interceptions and Adam Vinatieri missed what for him would have been an easy field goal.
None of it matters now to the Chargers (12-5), who will have to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Colts (13-3) in their stadium on Sunday in order to keep advancing in the playoffs.
Granted, Shawne Merriman is still going to try to bull-rush Manning as he did as a rookie in 2005, when he got two sacks and forced an important intentional grounding by Manning in San Diego's 26-17 win.
In Merriman's mind, that was a long time ago.
``I think they're going to take a different approach this game, we're going to take a different approach and go out there and see what happens,'' the Pro Bowl outside linebacker said Monday. ``We're going to get their best shot and they're going to get ours and I think it's going to be a great game.''
The Chargers are fresh off their first playoff win in 13 seasons, a 17-6 decision over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. They won't know until later in the week whether they'll be without three-time All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, who has an injured left big toe.
The Colts had a bye as the AFC's No. 2 seed.
San Diego has won 11 of 13 games, among them a 23-21 decision over the Colts at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 11.
The Colts were missing several starters that rainy night. It was a breakout game for two Chargers - Antonio Cromartie had three interceptions and Darren Sproles returned the opening kickoff for an 89-yard touchdown, then added a 45-yard punt return touchdown later in the first quarter. Vinatieri, who'd won two Super Bowls for the New England Patriots with last-second field goals, missed a 29-yard attempt with 1:31 left.
``Peyton threw six picks and that's probably never going to happen again in his career,'' Merriman said.
``I think so many things happened in that game that you can almost scratch it,'' quarterback Philip Rivers said, ``other than learning how they played you and watching individual matchups, how they played you, blocking up front, seeing the corners, how they played the wide receivers, things like that, from a scheme standpoint.
``But the way all those plays and things happened, you don't go into this game going, 'Hey guys, we wore them out the first time,' or vice versa, I wouldn't think. It's one of those games we came out on top, but I don't think it really has a huge impact as we go forward in this game.''
Norv Turner, 2-1 in the playoffs as a head coach, agrees that this game is likely to be different than the past matchups with the Colts.
``I just don't know that it matters,'' Turner said. ``This is a whole new scenario because of being in the playoffs and the importance of the game. I know it's a challenge. Because of what's happened this year in the league, people have kind of forgotten that Indianapolis won the Super Bowl last year. They were the best team in the league last year and they were about four minutes away from beating who everyone perceives is the best team in the league this year.''
The week before they lost to the Chargers, the Colts led the Patriots by 10 points with less than 10 minutes left but lost 24-20.
Rivers said the Chargers, who have won seven straight games, are confident but know the challenge they face.
``Barring something crazy, we're going to be the underdogs here on out,'' he said. ``But it doesn't really matter what's said or what's predicted. It matters what we do in the locker room and our staff and our team and what we believe, and go in there and fight hard and try to get a win.''
Sunday's win over the Titans snapped a four-game postseason losing streak dating to the 1994 season. Two of those losses occurred in the past three seasons.
``We're very happy to be able to win so we have an opportunity to move on,'' general manager A.J. Smith said.
Notes: Gates had an MRI on Monday on his injured left big toe. Gates said on Sunday that the toe was dislocated, but the Chargers are saying it's sprained. Gates was taken off the field on a cart during the second quarter on Sunday. Turner said Gates is day to day. ... FB Lorenzo Neal, who broke his lower left leg in an overtime win at Tennessee on Dec. 9, will be able to practice Wednesday, Turner said.