Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Peyton Manning engineers big comeback

AP , TAMPA, FLORIDA

Buccaneers Chartric Darby, right, sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, Monday.

PHOTO: EPA

Mike Vanderjagt's 29-yard field goal with 3:47 remaining in overtime capped one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history and gave the Indianapolis Colts a 38-35 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.

Peyton Manning rallied the Colts from a 35-14 deficit with four minutes left in regulation, sending the game into overtime on Ricky Williams' 1-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds to play. Marvin Harrison, who had two touchdown catches, set up the tying score with a 52-yard reception to the Tampa Bay 5.

Manning realized the difficulty of his task.

"Twenty-one-nothing here at Tampa on Monday night is not an ideal situation," he said. "What a game, what a win."

Harrison scored on second-half receptions of 37 and 28 yards, the latter trimming Tampa Bay's lead to 35-28 with 2:29 remaining in regulation.

Indianapolis (5-0) became the first team in NFL history to win after trailing by 21 or more points with less than four minutes to play in regulation.

Vanderjagt had missed a potential game-winning field goal from 39 yards wide right a play earlier -- it would have been his first miss of the season in 13 attempts -- but Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice was called for leaping and landing on a teammate and the Colts got another chance.

Vanderjagt made the second kick, barely as it went off the right upright and through after being deflected at the line by a Tampa Bay player, and coach Tony Dungy had the win on his return to Tampa.

Dungy, celebrating his 48th birthday, was as surprised as Manning to score so many points against one of the great defenses in the league.

"These guys just never gave up. That's what I like about us," Dungy said. "We've got great chemistry and I just had a feeling the Lord was going to do something, and he certainly did."

At halftime, he told his team how poorly it had performed.

"I told them that was the most disappointed I've been in our team," Dungy said. "We just didn't play our game."

Manning launched the game-winning drive from his own 13. He had crucial third-down completions of 8 yards to Harrison, 16 yards to Reggie Wayne and 9 yards to Troy Walters to keep the march alive.

Harrison's 37-yard TD catch put the Colts, who trailed 21-0 at halftime, on the scoreboard early in the third quarter. He finished with 11 catches for 176 yards.

"A lot of those plays, I tip my hat to Manning," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "He made some miraculous throws, and they made some incredible catches."

Williams, part of a committee of running backs filling in for the injured Edgerrin James, had a 1-yard TD run three minutes into the fourth quarter. James Mungro scored on a 3-yard run for the Colts with 3:37 remaining, the touchdown that started the comeback.

A week after throwing for 314 yards and six touchdowns in the Colts' 55-21 rout of New Orleans , Manning was 34-of-47 for 386 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, which Ronde Barber returned 29 yards to give Tampa Bay a 35-14 lead with just over five minutes left in regulation.

Keenan McCardell caught two touchdown passes and scooped up an Indianapolis fumble and returned it 57 yards for another score for Tampa Bay (2-2), which looked like it would ruin Dungy's homecoming when it took the big halftime lead.

Dungy received a polite ovation from a crowd of 65,647 that likely included a generous number of fans who no doubt were not the least bit upset when he was fired in January 2002 after six successful seasons in Tampa Bay.

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