INDIANAPOLIS » Peyton Manning did some extra work last night.
He threw a lead block. He ran for a first down, and he kept the Colts’ makeshift offense chugging along as the Colts got past Houston 30-17.
So just like that, the defending AFC champs are back on top of the AFC South.
"Whoever’s in there has to somehow find a way to do the job. It’s not always going to be pretty or perfect, but you’ve just got to keep grinding," Manning said. "That’s kind of the word we use. Just keep grinding and trying to make some plays."
Manning has made his share of plays over the years, and his latest effort certainly was no different.
Though the Colts (5-2) were missing All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark, receiver Austin Collie and running back Joseph Addai with injuries, Manning made sure his teammates didn’t miss a beat.
Mike Hart ran for a career-high 84 yards and barely missed scoring his second career touchdown. Jacob Tamme, similar to Hart making his first career start, caught six passes for 64 yards and his first career touchdown.
Manning, meanwhile, went 26-for-45 for 268 yards with two TDs.
But it wasn’t just the new guys making plays — or only the offense.
Reggie Wayne caught a touchdown pass. Manning rushed for a first down for the first time in nearly two years, then threw the lead block on a first-down catch-and-run by Pierre Garcon in the third quarter.
"It was a screen, and Pierre has that ability to cut back," Manning said. "I think Pierre really did all the work. Let’s take it for what it really was — it was a good run."
But that’s how important last night’s game was to the Colts, who evened the season series with Houston (4-3).
Indy’s defense repeatedly pressured Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and forced him into a series of mistakes, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The louder-than-normal crowd created problems for Schaub hearing play calls, barking out signals to teammates, and just trying to make plays. The 2009 NFL leader in yards passing finished a horrible first half 5-for-15 for 37 yards with one interception and a rating of 14.6 as he tried to dodge defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. They still combined for three sacks.
Schaub was better in the second half, finishing 22-for-38 for 201 yards with one TD. But the damage was already done.
"In the first half, we didn’t do a thing. We dug ourselves a hole," Schaub said. "It’s a hole you don’t want to be in to any team in this league, especially with this team and the defense they have."
The Colts took control quickly.
Manning took them 78 yards on the second series, throwing a 2-yard TD pass to Tamme to make it 7-0.
On the second play of the second quarter, the maligned defense gave Indy the play it desperately needed. Kelvin Hayden jumped in front of Kevin Walter, picked off Schaub’s pass and sprinted 25 yards to make it 14-0.
"It was a huge part in the game," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "Obviously, a big momentum swing for us. Great play by him, great read, finishing the deal, catching that ball, scoring."
Neil Rackers banked in a 53-yard field goal to get Houston within 14-3 with 12 minutes to go in the half, but that was merely a speed bump for Manning.
He took the Colts 36 yards, running off nearly all of the half’s final 6 minutes before Adam Vinatieri booted a season-long 48-yard field goal to make it 17-3 at halftime.
Colts 30, Texans 17
Ind–Tamme 2 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 6:59.
Ind–Hayden 25 interception return (Vinatieri kick), 14:44.
Hou–FG Rackers 53, 12:00.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 48, :53.
Ind–Wayne 15 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 11:30.
Hou–Johnson 28 pass from Schaub (Rackers kick), 7:40.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 23, 1:18.
Hou–Foster 6 run (Rackers kick), 12:22.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 36, 7:23.
|Total Net Yards||291||366|
|Time of Possession||23:35||36:25|
RUSHING–Houston, Foster 15-102, Ward 2-5, Schaub 1-1. Indianapolis, Hart 12-84, D.Brown 9-16, James 3-4, Manning 4-3.
PASSING–Houston, Schaub 22-38-1-201. Indianapolis, Manning 26-45-0-268.
RECEIVING–Houston, Foster 9-65, Johnson 7-106, Ward 2-9, Jones 2-6, Daniels 1-8, Leach 1-7. Indianapolis, Garcon 7-78, Tamme 6-64, Gonzalez 4-55, Wayne 4-39, Hart 3-19, D.Brown 2-13.