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Chargers qualify for postseason with victory over Colts

Dec 26, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) moves past Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart (90) on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, during a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Mandatory Credit: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herbert passed for 235 yards and Austin Ekeler ran for two touchdowns to help the Los Angeles Chargers clinch a playoff berth with a 20-3 win against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.

With their third straight victory, the Chargers (9-6) qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2018.

Nick Foles took over as the starter at quarterback for Indianapolis this week and finished 17-for-29 for 143 yards and three interceptions. He was also sacked seven times.

Matt Ryan was benched after the Colts blew a 33-0 halftime lead last weekend in a 39-36 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Indianapolis (4-10-1) was held to 173 total yards in its fifth straight loss.

The Chargers did not record a first down on their first three drives, but marched 70 yards on 13 plays on their fourth and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ekeler with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

The Chargers intercepted two passes in the first quarter, including one by All-Pro safety Derwin James, who had missed the previous two games with a quad injury.

James was involved in a helmet-to-helmet tackle on Ashton Dulin with 5:19 left in the first half. James was disqualified from the game and Dulin was later ruled out with a concussion.

Chase McLaughlin capped the drive with a 46-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 4:21 left in the half.

Cameron Dicker booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give the Chargers a 10-3 halftime lead.

Asante Samuel Jr. intercepted the third pass for Los Angeles on its first defensive series of the second half, and the Chargers cashed that in with a 21-yard field goal by Dicker for a 13-3 lead with 6:01 left in the third quarter.

Ekeler scored on another 1-yard run to extend the lead to 20-3 with 8:20 left in the game.

The Colts played without running back Jonathan Taylor, the leading rusher in the NFL last season, who was put on injured reserve last week after sustaining a high ankle sprain early in the loss to Minnesota.

-Field Level Media