Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Colts' Manning dissects New England Patriots


Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning aims to throw the ball on the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Monday.


Finally Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts have scaled their personal Everest. Maybe now, after routing the New England Patriots 40-21 on Monday night, they'll admit this could be a super season.

Manning shrugged off his 0-7 record at Foxborough with an intelligent dissection of the two-time defending champions. Aided by star running back Edgerrin James' 104 yards on 34 carries, and 100-yard receiving games from Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, Manning led the Colts on six lengthy scoring drives and kept them perfect through eight games, the NFL's only undefeated team.

While the Patriots have been struggling mightily with injuries, an undependable running game and a leaky defense, their hex over the Colts was the major theme in this meeting. But other than a masterful first-quarter march -- Tom Brady was 10-for-10 passing in the opening half -- and two TD drives when the Patriots (4-4) were trying to rally, they were the inferior team.

That mediocre record is good enough to lead the AFC East. It doesn't put them within shouting distance of the Colts, who looked mature, savvy and resourceful, all elements they have lacked against New England in recent years.

The last time Indianapolis was here, in January, it managed all of three points and never contended in the divisional playoff game. This time, the Colts' vastly upgraded defense hit harder when the score was close and forced the pace, while the offense was versatile and unflappable.

Manning was 28-of-37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He guided the Colts, who are 5-0 on the road, to scores on seven of eight possessions.

Indy didn't punt until the final 2 minutes and scored its most points ever against the Patriots.

The Colts were so skillful this night they even forced Bill Belichick into some desperate measures. After Daniel Graham turned a tight end screen into a 31-yard touchdown midway in the third quarter, New England's coach ordered an onside kick. It was recovered by the Colts' Joseph Jefferson, who advanced it to the Patriots 22.

Indianapolis managed only Mike Vanderjagt's 35-yard field goal, and Belichick remained emboldened. The Patriots went for a fourth-and-4 at the Indy 43, but Brady threw too low for David Givens.

Vanderjagt added a 20-yard field goal before Manning capped it with an on-the-run throw that descended directly into Harrison's hands in the end zone despite tight coverage by Asante Samuel.

The win made Colts coach Tony Dungy 51-0 when his team has led by at least 14 points.

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