Peyton Manning tried to focus on winning while the home crowd seemed unwilling to accept anything less than a record-setting night. Manning threw his 47th touchdown pass of the...
INDIANAPOLIS Peyton Manning tried to focus on winning while the home crowd seemed unwilling to accept anything less than a record-setting night.
Manning threw his 47th touchdown pass of the season to move one behind Dan Marino’s long-standing record as the Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens 20-10 last night.
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But after kneeling twice in the final minute to run out the clock and passing up a chance at tying Marino’s record, the Colts’ franchise player drew an unexpected reaction from the crowd boos.
“I can’t get over the crowd booing like that,” said Manning, last season’s league co-MVP. “I hope those were Baltimore fans, because that’s (kneeling is) what you’re supposed to do.”
His record pursuit aside, Manning did have another good game. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 249 yards and threw for one touchdown against Baltimore’s stingy defense while extending his NFL record of consecutive 4,000-yard seasons to six. Manning is now one TD pass short of Marino’s 20-year-old record of 48 in a season.
The Colts (11-3) won their seventh straight and set up a showdown with the San Diego Chargers next week for the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
But it wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy a festive crowd that expected to see history.
Fans waved signs and held banners that counted down to the touchdown mark. They roared after Manning hooked up with Marvin Harrison on a TD pass in the third quarter and every time after that when it appeared Manning had a chance to tie the record.
Instead, the Colts settled for two second-half touchdown drives and a win.
“We’re not really focused on that,” coach Tony Dungy said of the record. “We’d like to get it, but we’re focused on winning.”
The Ravens (8-6) were busy dealing with other matters like their playoff hopes. The loss dropped them into a tie with the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos, and they managed to hold the Colts to their lowest scoring total of the season.
But the Ravens also wanted to prevent Manning from making history against their defense.
“All we’ve seen on TV this week was Peyton Manning this and Peyton Manning that,” cornerback Gary Baxter said. “We weren’t going to let him set the record against us.”
The Ravens stymied Manning by using extra defensive backs and constant shifts, then controlled the clock by running the ball as long as it could.
It worked for a while.
When Manning returned after a sluggish first half, it didn’t take him long to get the Colts going.
He opened the third period with a 77-yard scoring drive that ended with a 29-yard TD pass to Marvin Harrison. That gave the Colts a 13-3 lead.
Mike Vanderjagt kicked two first-half field goals to give Indianapolis a 6-3 lead in its second-lowest-scoring opening half of the season. Larry Tripplett, a former Washington Husky, blocked a field goal that set up the Colts’ second touchdown drive a 10-point swing that changed the game.
Baltimore never recovered. Five plays later, Edgerrin James scored on a 3-yard run to make it 20-3 as fans urged Manning to throw the ball.
Indianapolis sealed the win when Cato June picked off Boller’s pass and ran it 71 yards to the Baltimore 4, giving Manning one more chance to tie the record. Fans gave Manning a standing ovation when he came back onto the field. But he knelt down and didn’t give the record a second thought.
“If it happens during the course of the game, that’s the way it’s meant to be,” he said. “It was just good to get the win.”