SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Joe Hamilton has bounced around football's
fringes since he was the 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up, playing in
Europe, playing indoors and -- for one snap -- in the NFL.
Hamilton looked like a seasoned NFL veteran Saturday night,
coolly taking Indianapolis on a 71-yard drive to the winning
touchdown in the Colts' 21-17 preseason victory over San Diego.
"The whole thing was to stay positive. We didn't want go into
overtime," said Hamilton, who capped the Colts' come-from-behind
win with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Fletcher with 11 seconds
Hamilton was the fifth quarterback to come into the game, the
preseason opener for both teams.
Peyton Manning, who played just six downs for the Colts, was
impressed by Hamilton.
"Joe did a great job on the last series," Manning said. "The
two-minute drill is something we work on a lot.
"Good poise by him and some great catches by the young
Manning completed three of his four passes, but did not produce
a first down in his brief appearance at the start of the game.
"I didn't expect to play very much," he said. "It kind of
Brees guided the Chargers on another long march late in the
half, but rookie Nate Kaeding's 25-yard field goal try sailed wide
San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer liked Brees' performance,
saying, "I thought he played terrific."
The Chargers were without their top offensive threat, LaDainian
Tomlinson, who earlier in the day became the NFL's highest-paid
running back, was held out of the game. He signed an eight-year
contract worth nearly $60 million, including $21 million in
His deal tops that given Washington's Clinton Portis, who signed
an eight-year agreement for $50.5 million.
"Somewhere along the line, L.T. will get a couple of snaps (in
the preseason)," Schottenheimer said. "We did that last year. He
doesn't need a whole lot of reps. He's proven that."
Tomlinson wasn't concerned that he didn't play.
"Sometime during the preseason, I'll get my snaps," he said.
"It really didn't matter to me at all."
Hamilton threw for the winning touchdown after Kaeding put the
Chargers ahead with a 27-yard field goal with 3:18 left.
A free agent who played for Orlando in Arena Football this past
season after earlier playing for Frankfurt in NFL Europe, Hamilton
was signed by the Colts on June 9.
Hamilton, who finished second to Ron Dayne in the Heisman
voting, completed 13-of-22 for 132 yards in his debut for the
Colts. Considered undersized and taken by Tampa Bay as the 234th
player in the 2000 draft, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Hamilton got in
just one play for the Buccaneers -- and was sacked.
Manning was booed loudly as he trotted onto the field during
pregame introductions in San Diego. His younger brother Eli, taken
by the Chargers as the first pick in the draft, did not want to
play for San Diego.
He immediately was traded to the Giants for Philip Rivers in the
deal that also gave San Diego a pick in the third round.
Rivers, a quarterback who was the fourth pick in the draft, also
has been a no-show in San Diego, with no contract agreement.
After Indianapolis' David Kimball missed a 52-yard field goal
try late in the third quarter, the Chargers tied it 14-14 on Doug
Chapman's 6-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. scoring burst up
the middle 34 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The most popular jersey number at the stadium was
Tomlinson's No. 21, although his fans didn't get to see their hero
play. The second favorite jersey, it seemed as the fans filtered
in, was the 55 of Junior Seau, who left for Miami last summer. ...
The game was blacked out in San Diego, the first blackout since
1997. The city had guaranteed sellouts by purchasing unused tickets
under the Chargers' old lease, but that provision was dropped from
the new lease signed in the offseason.