Final

Colts 21

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Chargers 17

(0-1, 0-1 home)

10:00 PM ET, August 14, 2004

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
IND 0 7 7 721
SD 7 0 0 1017

Hamilton rallies Colts past Chargers

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 remaining.

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 receivers."

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 felt good."

The Chargers' Drew Brees was sharp while playing the first half, going 11-of-14 for 156 yards, including a wobbly 6-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in the first quarter.

Brees guided the Chargers on another long march late in the half, but rookie Nate Kaeding's 25-yard field goal try sailed wide left.

San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer liked Brees' performance, saying, "I thought he played terrific."

The Chargers were without their top offensive threat, LaDainian Tomlinson.

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 guarantees.

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.

Cory Sauter hooked up with Aaron Moorehead for an 80-yard touchdown on Indianapolis' first play of the second half as the Colts took a 14-7 lead.

Game notes


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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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