The underdog and undermanned San Diego Chargers pulled off an unlikely upset of the favored Indianapolis Colts and MVP Peyton Mannning for the second year in a row in walk-off fashion, thanks to the lightning bug that is Darren Sproles.
At 5'6", 181lbs, San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles might just be the smallest player in the NFL. But on Saturday night, he proved to have the largest impact and biggest heart of any player on the field.
Sproles proved to be a one-man wrecking crew, totaling 328 all purpose yards through punt and kick returns as well through the air and ground, culminating in a 22-yard, game-winning touchdown run.
Sproles was called upon to perform due to the injuries suffered by All Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who put up a valiant effort, playing on a detached groin tendon, an injury that may require surgery and one that Jerome Bettis, who suffered the same injury, said that he could barely walk from.
Tomlinson finished with 25 yards on five carries and one score but left the game for good after his second quarter touchdown, unable to endure any longer.
Chargers superstar tight end, Antonio Gates, who had not practiced all week and was questionable for the game as well, performed admirably, playing on an injured ankle, totaling eight receptions for 87 yards, including several key third-down conversions.
But perhaps the biggest performance was that of Chargers punter Mike Scifres, who pinned the Colts deep inside their own 20 on all six of his punts, five of them inside the 10. Scifres also punted for a playoff record 51.7 net average, including a game-changing 67 yard punt that pinned the Colts at their own five-yard line.
Scifre's biggest punt, however, came with the Chargers trailing 17-14, with three minutes left on the clock. From his own 46, Scifres drilled a punt landed on the one-yard line and promptly bounced out of bounds, pinning Peyton Manning and the potent Colts offense into a hole of which they never climbed out of.
It was not the big-name superstars that one might expect when looking on paper that won the game for the Chargers, it was, however, a diminutive running back with the heart the size of San Diego County, feet as fast as lightning, and perhaps the greatest punting performance in the history of the game, that had the Bolts jolting the Colts from the playoffs for the second straight year.