Dropped passes, penalties and too much Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers did in Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
Rivers threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keenan Allen and Nick Novak kicked four field goals to give the Chargers a 19-9 victory against the Colts on Monday night.
Rivers methodically moved the Chargers (3-3) on three scoring drives of at least 74 yards as he rebounded from a three-interception performance in a dismal loss at Oakland.
That, and a lot of dropped passes by Colts receivers, kept Indianapolis (4-2) from taking a two-game lead over Tennessee in the AFC South.
A week earlier, Luck helped rally the Colts to a 34-28 victory against Seattle.
"Drops always haunt you, bad throws always haunt you," Luck said. "I got bailed out a couple times. False starts haunt, penalties haunt you. So many things haunt you."
Luck didn't have much of a chance against the Bolts because of two long drives in the second quarter that helped contribute to the Chargers dominating the time of possession 38 minutes, 31 seconds to 21:29.
And then there were all the drops.
Trailing 10-3 in the closing minutes of the first half, Luck then completed four straight passes to move the Colts into Chargers territory before wide-open tight end Coby Fleener dropped a pass at the 25. Luck scrambled for 6 yards and threw an incompletion before Adam Vinatieri kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired.
On the Colts' only other possession of the second quarter, Darrius Heyward-Bey dropped what likely would have been a long touchdown pass down the right sideline.
"Honestly, I wish I knew," Fleener said. "It's something that we will take very seriously and address as best we can. It's very frustrating."
On his drop, "I saw the end zone right behind me. I got excited and left the ball behind me. Now I know that's the difference in the game," Fleener said. "Overall, I am disappointed in myself and overall it was a very frustrating game."
Allen got behind safety Delano Howell and cornerback Vontae Davis on a post route for the TD, completing a 12-play, 74-yard drive that took 6:14 and gave San Diego a 7-3 lead. It was Allen's second TD catch of the season.
Novak's first field goal capped a drive that went 79 yards in 17 plays in 7:58. The drive was kept alive when cornerback Greg Toler was whistled for illegal contact for pushing receiver Lavelle Hawkins out of bounds on third-and-6 from the Chargers 45.
Novak also had field goals of 33, 34 and 50 yards, with the final one coming with 1:55 left. Vinatieri finished with three field goals.
Chargers cornerback Derek Cox snuffed out Indy's final chance when he intercepted a pass that was tipped by receiver Reggie Wayne with 1:07 to play.
Rivers was 22 of 33 for 237 yards and no interceptions. Luck was 18 of 30 for 202 yards.
Wayne got his 1,000th career reception in the fourth quarter.
San Diego established its running game with 147 yards. Ryan Mathews ran for 102 yards on 22 carries, his first 100-yard game of the season.
There were family ties in this one: Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano beat older brother Chuck, the Colts' coach.
Penalties on the Colts helped sustain Chargers drives.
"The timing was terrible," Chuck Pagano said. "We just can't do those things. We dropped balls. Again, they applied pressure. They played tight. They got after us, but still, that's uncharacteristic of our guys to not make the plays they usually make. We've got to get it cleaned up."
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