Colts-Chargers: Big Passers Give Way to Leg Men

Bryan HollisterAnalyst IJanuary 3, 2009

Peyton Manning: Three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, 4,002 yards passing, often touted as the best quarterback in the game.

Phillips Rivers: Highest-rated quarterback in the league, 4,009 yards passing, sometimes considered to be underrated.

With these two gunslingers going head-to-head, one might expect a high-flying aerial attack with a couple of touchdowns apiece.


Between the two of them they managed 527 yards and one touchdown. Not bad, but not enough to qualify either one as the star of the show.

No, that honor must be split between two other players. And they both earned it with their legs.

Punter Mike Scifres averaged a phenomenal 52.7 yards on six punts. He pinned the Colts deep in their own territory time and time again, with every punt landing inside the 20-yard line. Five of them were inside the 10, with one punt going out of bounds at the 1.

The other star was the most diminutive back in the game. At 5'6" and 181 pounds, Darren Sproles looked like a child strolling among giants, but his play could not have come up bigger.

Sproles excelled all over the field. Running, receiving, returning—he did it all. With 328 total yards in the game, none came bigger than his 22-yard scamper in overtime to give the Chargers a 23-17 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

On a day when LaDainian Tomlinson was sidelined with a groin injury that limited him to 25 yards on five carries, Sproles stepped in and showed the football world that a little guy with a big heart can do wonders.

105 yards rushing. 45 yards receiving. 106 yards on kickoff returns. 72 yards on punt returns. The only blemish on his resumé was a fumble at the two on what would have given him a 7-yard reception for a touchdown.

It's no small wonder (no pun intended) that both Sproles and Scifres were picked as the "Horse Trailer Players of the Game." On a day when the aerial attack couldn't get the ball in the end zone, these two guys proved that the quarterback isn't the only skill position on the field that matters.