NASHVILLE, Tenn. » Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He’s just fine, thank you very much.
Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped their three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans 30-28 last night to move within a half-game of first-place Jacksonville in the AFC South.
"Nobody likes losing three in a row," Manning said. "That’s new for us. Somebody asked me if we were in a slump. I said, ‘I’ve been on an 8 1/2-year hitting streak."’
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical slump behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn’t intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters, beating the Titans for a fourth straight time. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
Back in the state where he starred at the University of Tennessee, Manning nearly had a third touchdown pass, but rookie receiver Blair White broke up a pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone.
"I was throwing to Reggie. I can assure you I was throwing to Reggie," Manning said. "But like I said, that’s part of the learning process."
The Colts (7-6) haven’t lost four straight since 2001, when their five-game slide prompted Jim Mora’s famous rant about the playoffs. Now the only NFL team to reach the postseason in 10 of the last 11 seasons is back on track and will defend its AFC South title if it wins out.
"I think we’re in a four-game playoff, and this was a playoff game tonight," Manning said.
Tennessee (5-8) has lost six straight to drop 2 1/2 games behind Jacksonville in the division with three to play. The Titans can blame themselves for mistakes that led to each of the Colts’ first three touchdowns, including two defensive penalties on third and goal and a high snap over the punter’s head.
"Every time we play the Colts, it’s been the same thing," safety Chris Hope said. "By the time we figure out we can play with them and compete with them, we run out of time. It’s been the same story the last few times we’ve played them."
One fan showed up wearing a grocery bag over his head with "Jeff Fisher: A commitment to mediocrity" written on it, referring to the Titans coach.
Colts 30, Titans 28
Ind–James 1 run (Vinatieri kick), 2:04.
Ind–Garcon 1 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 10:17.
Ind–Garcon 19 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 2:25.
Ten–C.Johnson 1 run (Bironas kick), :49.
Ten–Stevens 7 pass from Collins (Bironas kick), 11:09.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 21, 7:22.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 28, 12:55.
Ten–Scaife 4 pass from Collins (Bironas kick), 7:59.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 47, 2:55.
Ten–Scaife 2 pass from Collins (Bironas kick), :00.
|Total Net Yards||399||365|
|Time of Possession||32:31||27:29|
RUSHING—Indianapolis, James 17-49, D.Brown 15-38. Tennessee, C.Johnson 22-111, Ringer 2-10, Kern 1-0.
PASSING—Indianapolis, Manning 25-35-0-319. Tennessee, Collins 28-39-0-244.
RECEIVING—Indianapolis, White 7-52, Garcon 6-93, Wayne 4-106, Tamme 4-36, D.Brown 3-24, Eldridge 1-8. Tennessee, C.Johnson 8-68, Britt 4-39, Scaife 4-20, Washington 3-48, Hall 3-26, Stevens 3-20, Cook 1-9, Ringer 1-8, Gage 1-6.