The Chargers (9-6), with the victory, seal a first playoff berth since 2018; Austin Ekeler runs in both Chargers touchdowns in strong defensive showing; The Colts (4-10-1) suffer a fifth successive loss and an eighth in their last nine games
Last Updated: 27/12/22 8:20am
Justin Herbert passed for 235 yards and Austin Ekeler ran for two touchdowns to help the Los Angeles Chargers clinch a playoff berth with a 20-3 win against the host Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
Story of the Game
The Chargers defense dominated with three interceptions and seven sacks on newly installed Colts quarterback Nick Foles, while Ekeler got the job done on offense with two close-range conversions on the ground.
With their third straight victory, the Chargers (9-6) qualified for the postseason for the first time since the 2018 season.
After taking over as the starting quarterback for Indianapolis, Foles finished 17-for-29 for 143 yards, to go along with his three interceptions.
Matt Ryan was benched after the Colts blew a 33-0 half-time lead on December 17 in a 39-36 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Colts (4-10-1) were held to 173 total yards in their fifth straight loss.
The Chargers did not record a first down on their first three drives, but they marched 70 yards on 13 plays on their fourth and took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Ekeler with 8:41 left in the second quarter.
The Chargers intercepted two passes in the first quarter, including one by All-Pro safety Derwin James, who had missed the previous two games with a quad injury.
|Chargers 7-0 Colts||Austin Ekeler one-yard TD run (extra point)|
|Chargers 7-3 Colts||Chase McLaughlin 46-yard field goal|
|Chargers 10-3 Colts||Cameron Dicker 24-yard field goal|
|Chargers 13-3 Colts||Cameron Dicker 21-yard field goal|
|Chargers 20-3 Colts||Austin Ekeler one-yard TD run (extra point)|
James was disqualified from the game after being involved in a helmet-to-helmet tackle on Ashton Dulin with 5:19 left in the first half, while the Colts receiver was later ruled out with a concussion.
Chase McLaughlin capped the drive with a 46-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 4:21 left in the half, but Cameron Dicker responded with a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give the Chargers a 10-3 half-time lead.
Asante Samuel Jr. intercepted the third pass for Los Angeles on their first defensive series of the second half, and the Chargers cashed that in with a 21-yard field goal by Dicker for a 13-3 lead with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
Ekeler then scored on another one-yard run to extend the lead to 20-3 with 8:20 left in the game.
The Colts played without running back Jonathan Taylor, the leading rusher in the NFL last season, who was put on injured reserve last week after sustaining a high ankle sprain early in the loss to Minnesota.
- Passing: Justin Herbert, 24/31, 235 yards, 1 INT
- Rushing: Austin Ekeler, 18 carries, 67 yards, 2 TDs
- Receiving: Keenan Allen, 11 catches, 104 yards
- Passing: Nick Foles, 17/29, 143 yards, 3 INTs
- Rushing: Zack Moss, 12 carries, 65 yards
- Receiving: Jelani Woods, 3 catches, 43 yards
With the Chargers now having sealed their playoff berth, they have the potential to leapfrog the one of the Cincinnati Bengals or Baltimore Ravens for the fifth seed in the AFC.
The Chargers would need to win their remaining games, against the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos, and hope that the loser of the the Ravens @ Bengals final-week clash also loses their preceding Week 17 fixture.
The Chargers’ Los Angeles derby with the Rams caps next Sunday’s live NFL action on Sky Sports, with the game starting in the early hours of Monday morning at 1:20am.
The Colts, who were already out of playoff contention and dropped to 4-10-1, finish a disappointing campaign with games against the New York Giants and Houston Texans.
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