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Breaking News: Patriots to host Chargers in AFC Championship

The San Diego Chargers, short-handed and with the deck stacked against them, beat the Indianapolis Colts, 28-24, in the AFC Division Playoff at the RCA Dome this afternoon. That means the New England Patriots will host the Chargers in the AFC Championship game next Sunday afternoon.

The game will be a rematch of the Week 2 contest, which New England won 38-14.

Update [2008-1-13 19:5:21 by tommasse]:

The AFC Championship game is scheduled for next Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Patriots return to practice Wednesday.

Bill Belichick quotes and more after the break ..

During a conference call this afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the following:

"As I said last night, we’re privileged as a football team to be in the AFC Championship game. That was a tremendous win today by San Diego, in Indianapolis. They beat them twice this year, of course. They’re a good football team, strong in every phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams. They make a lot of big plays in all three areas of the game as we watched them through the season, as I know all of you have. They’re tough, they’re physical. Going out on the road and winning today in Indianapolis today shows what kind of mental toughness they have. We know we’re going to have to play our best game of the year.

"On the same note, we’re excited to play, and we’re excited to be in the game. It’s a privilege to be in it. Hopefully we’ll be able to go out there and do our best Sunday against the Chargers.

"A lot has happened since then [Week 2]. We’ll definitely start all over on the preparations with them, almost like it’s a new team, and then look back at some of the things we had from September. That’s a long time ago. I think the most important thing for us to focus on is what the Chargers have done the last couple months. They have a long winning streak."

Belichick said the Patriots will prepare as though all Chargers starters will play Sunday.

Over-Rated (Clap, Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap)

As for the talk that the Colts were the "most overlooked defending Super Bowl champion ever," there was a good reason for it: They weren't worthy of anything more.

The Colts had every advantage today. They were home. They were the beneficiaries of several terrible calls (most glaring: pass interference on Clinton Hart at the start of the 4th quarter -- no one touched Reggie Wayne -- and holding on Antonio Cromartie's interception return that should have been a touchdown). They had all their available injured players back, including Marvin Harrison who caught two passes and fumbled one. San Diego was short-handed entering the game and lost their MVP and starting quarterback during the game.

According to the Dictionary

Main Entry:
- Pronunciation:
- - \'chōk\
- verb

- Middle English, alteration of achoken, from Old English ācēocian, from ā-, perfective prefix + cēoce, cēace jaw, cheek — more at abide, cheek
- 14th century

transitive verb

4: to lose one's composure and fail to perform effectively in a critical situation {had a chance to win the game but he choked}

Peyton Manning is now 7-7 in the playoffs and earned another loss with big interceptions. When the game was on the line -- twice -- Manning wilted. Much like David Garrard last night, Manning wasn't sharp when it really counted, when there was pressure.

Manning overthrew several receivers in the waning minutes, including reliable tight end Dallas Clark on the last Colts play ever in the RCA Dome which will be demolished this spring. On the Colts penultimate drive, from the Chargers 7-yard line, Manning threw three straight incompletions to running back Joseph Addai, who led Indy with 9 receptions on the day.

I guess he was forcing it into him.

Fighting over Who's More Classless

Colts fans jeered Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and we walked injured to the San Diego locker room. Those same fans were outraged that Rivers gave it back to them after Manning failed again to bring back Indy.

Still. Rivers, c'mon. Be a pro.

Even worse were the Colts fans (again) when the league presented the winners in the annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition for children. The fans booed a 14-year-old girl because she represented the Patriots. But, really. What do you expect from people who admit that their community leaders are a bunch of classless, uneducated, uncivilized, uncouth swill-slingers?

Watching Peyton Manning choke again: Priceless

60,000 Colts fans booing a little girl: Classless

A Couple More Notes

Colts fans cheered when Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal last night. Mulit-million dollar Benedict Vinatieri was a non-factor today.

By the way, Ryan Diem is a dirty player and should have been ejected for throwing a punch.