Colts 27, Titans 17
Peyton Manning keeps finding new winning formulas, and the Colts
keep making history.
Instead of another patented comeback or impressive air show,
Manning opened December by playing keepaway from Tennessee and
leading the Colts to a 27-17 victory for their record-tying 21st
consecutive regular-season win.
“You try to tell these guys that when you win a couple in a
row, or three or four in a row, this is not normal,” the
three-time MVP said. “It’s not normal to win 10 or 11 or 12 games
every year. But these guys that have been here five years would
tell me it is normal for us. That’s all they’ve done.”
For Indy (12-0), the milestones all seem commonplace.
Sunday’s list included:
– Matching New England’s record, set from 2006-08, with a chance
to break it next week at home against Denver. Broncos coach Josh
McDaniels was on Bill Belichick’s staff during the Patriots’ record
– Extending their own NFL record of consecutive 12-win seasons
– Remaining undefeated, the first time in league history two
teams – New Orleans is also 12-0 – have been unbeaten this late in
– And tying the 1990s San Francisco 49ers for most wins in a
decade (113), a mark they could also break against Denver.
“It (the record) is one of those things we talk about. We kind
of identify the milestones on Wednesday morning when we get in. We
talk about some of the things we’re accomplishing,” coach Jim
Caldwell said. “The guys appreciate it, but it’s not something
that goes to their heads.”
Colts players celebrated with a nonchalant stroll toward
midfield, then shaking hands and trotting into the locker room as
though it was no different than the previous 20 wins.
But the script was different. This time, Manning took a page out
of Tennessee’s playbook, relying an effective ground game and a
ball-control offense to stymie the Titans’ comeback hopes.
Tennessee (5-7) was the last team to beat the Colts, on Oct. 27,
2008, and it wanted to bookend the streak.
While Chris Johnson ran for 100 yards in his seventh straight
game, tying Earl Campbell’s franchise record, he finished with 113
yards and fell just short of a seventh straight 125-yard game, the
Titans struggled in the red zone.
Twice in the second half, the Titans went for it on fourth down
deep in Colts’ territory and failed both times. Tennessee also
recovered an onside kick after scoring a late TD, then turned the
ball over on downs.
“We just didn’t finish in the red zone,” quarterback Vince
Young said. “Our guys made some big plays, but we just didn’t
finish. Against a team like this, with an MVP quarterback, you have
to score touchdowns.”
The Colts, however, took another approach.
Joseph Addai ran 21 times for a season-high 79 yards and two
touchdowns. Manning was 24 of 37 for 270 yards and one TD, Pierre
Garcon caught six passes for a career-high 136 yards and the
combination of quick scores in the first half, and Manning’s
ability to run clock in the second sealed Tennessee’s fate.
Indy needed just 1:58 to take a 7-0 lead, on Addai’s 8-yard run.
After Rob Bironas’ short field goal, Addai scored on a 1-yard run
to make it 14-3.
And when Young was picked off, Manning hooked up with Austin
Collie on a 4-yard TD pass to make it 21-3 with 1:55 left in the
Young answered with a 6-yard TD pass to Kenny Britt, but left
Manning 20 seconds and two timeouts – too much time.
Manning hooked up with Garcon for 18 yards on the first play and
got 15 more when Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown drew an
unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Addai ran for 5 yards on the next
play and Matt Stover made a 43-yard field goal to give Indy a 24-10
That was all Manning needed.
The teams traded time-consuming drives in the third quarter and
when Manning burned up nearly half of the fourth quarter with a
drive that led to Stover’s 36-yard field goal with 3:14 to go, the
Colts were back in the record book.
“It will mean a lot if we look back at it after 16 games,”
linebacker Clint Session said. “Right now, it really means nothing
to us. We’re just trying to win every game we play.”
NOTES: Three Titans players were hurt during the game – safety
Michael Griffin (shoulder), tight end Jared Cook (concussion) and
fullback Ahmard Hall (ankle). … Colts WR Reggie Wayne caught four
passes for 48 yards and now has 1,035 yards receiving. …
Manning’s TD pass to Collie extended his NFL record streak of
consecutive 25-TD seasons to 12.