Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
SAN DIEGO -- So much for a nine-game winning streak worth of momentum.
This time, it was the San Diego Chargers' late dramatics that seized the game. Indianapolis, a team led by MVP Peyton Manning that no one wanted to face in the AFC playoffs, is no longer part of the field following a 23-17 loss to San Diego.
It's hardly the end of an era, but it is the end of a remarkable season.
The Colts thrived once Manning got healthy and an offensive line got healthier, but they lived on the edge with great frequency, winning far more often by inches than miles. No matter how good Manning was, he couldn't do it all Saturday. Once again his run game wasn't sufficient and this time he ran into a defense that made some big plays and an opponent able to score on crucial drives.
This time the Chargers won the coin toss -- the Colts called heads, it landed tails -- and made the plays on offense to win it. With LaDainian Tomlinson out with an injury after a minimal showing, Darren Sproles helped key the win in a coming-out party on national TV.
In OT, Philip Rivers lobbed a ball up with little hope of completing it and drew a crucial holding call against Tim Jennings that produced a first down. A facemask against Clint Session added yards to position Sproles for his game winning 22-yard touchdown burst.
He and the Chargers find out tomorrow if they go to Nashville or Pittsburgh next weekend. A Miami wins sends the Chargers to face the Titans; a Baltimore victory means San Diego plays the Steelers.
The Colts are on their way back to Indianapolis, with no reservations for another flight necessary and another playoff disappointment in the books.