Everything is set up for the Chargers to get stuck on themselves again. With a chance to clinch a playoff berth Monday night against the reeling Colts, Los Angeles barely managed to pull off a huge lead going into Week 16 in prime time. Star safety Derwin James was ejected early due to an illegal hit. Quarterback Justin Herbert kicked the ball wide to give Indianapolis momentum in the fourth quarter. It doesn’t matter. Because Nick Foles’ debut as the Colts’ newest fill QB was about as weak as it can get. AFC West rival Brandon Staley left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 20-3 victory and, more importantly, wanted to make it into the postseason, having celebrated up front and had enough of Herbert’s production.
After slumping to 4-10-1 with its fifth straight loss under interim head coach Jeff on Saturday, the Colts kept things close for a while, but in the end it was no match for Los Angeles, who are never far behind in the contest.
Here are a few more points from Monday night’s Chargers victory:
Why did the charger win?
They have someone who can throw the ball. On a night when Indy might have ruined LA’s chance at a playoff berth if not for the third-string QB’s play with the hero ball behind the shoddy O-line on their first snap, the Chargers got a “W” because their signal caller, Justin Herbert, Do enough strikes in the field. Austin Eckler was lively again, though not always on the ground, so it was Herbert’s laser that saved the day, feeding Keenan Allen (11 catches, 104 yards) to keep Los Angeles knocking on the door. Brandon Staley’s defense was just as important, if not more, steadily stalking Nick Foles and playing opportunistic ball in the secondary even after losing star safety Derwin James to a first-inning sack. Six different players had recorded their dismissals by the end of the night, while Asante corner duo Samuel Jr. and Michael Davies were on their way.
Why did the colts lose
The offensive line was again sluggish, surrendering seven sacks and nine QB hits. But unfortunately, none judged them more than Nick Foles, whose big play mentality was a welcome idea for the Colts’ revolving door under center, but his timing and decision making were wonky all night. When not being swallowed by the Los Angeles front, Foles would frequently hit unintended targets out of the gate, giving the Chargers three picks (and almost more). Matt Ryan or Sam Ellinger might not have been much better, but they couldn’t have been much worse. It’s a shame, too, because the offensive meltdown squandered a solid night for Gus Bradley’s defense, who played fast and aggressive on both front and back.
The Colts stuck around, staying within 10 deep into the game, despite several turnovers with the ball in hand. Given a shot to get closer, and maybe even redeem their sloppy offensive night, they lined up to go on 4th-and-1 from the Chargers’ 12-yard line, beginning the final quarter. But QB Nick Foles’ sneak came up short, as Drue Tranquill stuffed the play, giving the ball back to Herbert and Co. , who immediately went on a 12-game TD drive to end the decision.
Play the game
It would have been cooler had Keenan Allen stayed in bounds, but this laser from Herbert on a trick play helped Los Angeles increase their lead to 10-3 going into halftime. She also confirmed that the Chargers QB has one of the best defenders in the game:
The Chargers (9-6) will go home on New Year’s Day to host the Rams (5-10), who blew out the Broncos on Christmas Day, prompting Denver to fire head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Meanwhile, the Colts (4-10-1) will hit the road for a cross-conference match-up with the Giants (8-6-1), who fell to the Vikings on Saturday but are looking to secure one of the NFC Finals wild spot.
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