- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Peyton factor: A legitimate argument can be made that the Colts were looking past the Chargers and ahead to this week's showdown against the undefeated Denver Broncos. I didn't think that would be the case after several players declined to talk about Denver when I asked them last week while trying to work ahead on some stories. San Diego was the only thing they would talk about. But how else can you explain the Colts' stinking worse than a baby's diaper while playing in the national spotlight of "Monday Night Football"? They had way too many self-inflicted wounds. Dropped passes. Missed tackles. Penalties at the wrong time. The Colts beat themselves against the Chargers.
No running: Indianapolis arrived at Qualcomm Stadium as the fourth-best rushing team in the league. The Colts walked out of there not only with a loss, but they also dropped to sixth (the same spot they’re at in this week’s Power Rankings) in rushing at 130.7 yards a game. The 72 yards gained on the ground are a season low for them. The Trent Richardson show in the backfield continues to remain in neutral. The running back led the Colts in rushing, but it was nothing you can get excited about because he only gained 40 yards on 10 carries. Richardson is now four games in with the Colts, and it’s time for him to get rolling. "We came in averaging [142 rushing yards] per game," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "And today they held us under 100. We didn't get ourselves in enough third-and-manageables. We popped ourselves a few, but we were inconsistent.”
Harvey steps in: Let’s quickly get the good news out of the way with linebacker Mario Harvey. He led the Colts with a career-high 10 tackles (nine solo) while stepping in for Jerrell Freeman, who sat out the second half with a concussion. Now the bad news. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers constantly picked on Harvey, who had a difficult time keeping up with San Diego’s tight ends and receivers when matched up against them. The Colts needed Freeman because he’s more athletic than Harvey. “When I first got out there, I didn’t have a feel for them because I just came out at halftime,” Harvey said. “I started picking it up once I got a feel.” The Colts better hope Freeman can pass the league’s concussion protocol, because Denver's Peyton Manning will pick on Harvey every chance he gets -- and there will be a lot of opportunities -- in Sunday's game.
Case of the drops: Not that any time is a good time to have a case of the drops, but the Colts picked a brutal time to have multiple players get hit with the bug. They had four drops, including a key one by tight end Coby Fleener. Indianapolis is the third team to have at least four drops in back-to-back games this season. That stat is alarming when you consider the Colts dropped only two passes total in their first four games. “I don’t know, just dropped the ball," receiver Reggie Wayne said. "That’s all I can tell you. Nobody wants to go out there and drop balls, miss blocks and make penalties. That is part of the game. We have to correct them. We know this was out of the norm for ourselves."
1hEric D. Williams