Chargers clinch playoff ticket after win over Colts on ‘Monday Night Football’

INDIANAPOLIS — The Los Angeles Chargers tried to keep their postgame playoff celebration private.

No chance. After shaking hands and leaving the field in Indianapolis, the players walked through a tunnel to the sound of loud music, high-fives and hugs and headed to a first locker room scene for many of these Chargers – a playoff night.

Austin Ekeler scored on two 1-yard runs and Los Angeles clinched its first playoff spot since 2018, intercepting Nick Foles three times to beat the outclassed Colts 20-3 on Monday night.

“We’re in, now let’s win it!” a player shouted before reporters were allowed into the locker room.

Sophomore coach Brandon Staley handed a ball to owner Dean Spanos, whose organization secured its second-place finish in the playoffs since 2014, just under a year after a brutal overtime loss to Las Vegas in the last game of last season. playoffs.

Justin Herbert and the Chargers clinched a playoff berth.
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Justin Herbert threw for 235 yards and Cameron Dicker scored two field goals for the Chargers (9-6), who won their third straight after getting the help they needed this weekend from Las Vegas , Miami, New England and the New York Jets. When all four lost, the Chargers just needed a win to clinch a playoff berth, and they did their part.

“It’s been a long time,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said after catching 11 passes for 104 yards, his sixth straight 100-yard game on the road. “The playoffs are never guaranteed, so when you get in it feels good. Now the season begins.

Indy (4-10-1) lost its fifth straight under interim coach Jeff on Saturday, though it was a more ho-hum loss than the previous two, when it gave up 33 fourth-quarter points to Dallas and blew a 33-0 halftime. lead to Minnesota.

Foles, making his first start for the Colts, squandered two scoring opportunities in the first quarter throwing picks, ended up being sacked seven times and went 0 for 10 on third down.

As usual, however, Indy’s third starting quarterback of the season was only part of the problem.

“We started, we thought we had a few knocks early on, but obviously the turnovers hurt you and put you off going,” he said on Saturday. “We managed the ball well, but when he’s second and 14 it’s hard to catch up. I thought we were running the ball effectively, but we couldn’t stick to it.

Austin Ekeler scores in the Chargers' win over the Colts.
Austin Ekeler scores in the Chargers’ win over the Colts.
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Herbert also struggled early until Ekeler scored the first points of the game with his short touchdown run midway through the second quarter.

The Colts took advantage of two personal foul calls that led to the ejection of Pro Bowl safety Derwin James to drive for their only score of the game, a 46-yard field goal from Chase McLaughlin.

But that was it for the Colts. Dicker’s two kicks made it 13-3 and Ekeler’s second run sealed the win.

Austin Ekeler, right, celebrates after scoring.
Austin Ekeler, right, celebrates after scoring.
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Ekeler had 18 carries for 67 yards, became the fourth player in 15 years to score at least 15 touchdowns in consecutive seasons and needs one more catch to post the sixth season of 100 catches by a running back in the history of the league.

While Herbert went 24 of 31 and his three-game 300-yard streak ended, the numbers didn’t matter. Victory did.

“It was tough losing to the Raiders at the end (last year),” Herbert said. “The guys in this locker room deserve it. So it will be exciting to have this opportunity.

Foles was 17 of 29 for 143 yards and threw his last interception in the third quarter. The Super Bowl MVP after the 2017 season with Philadelphia was fired seven times in his first NFL start since Dec. 26, 2021 with Chicago.

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