History of the Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a National Football League team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The team was founded in 1953 as a second incarnation of the previous Colts team in the NFL. The original Colts team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and joined the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC merged into the older league, but folded after the season.
The original Colts wore green and white.
The Indianapolis Colts used to play in Baltimore (before the Ravens) and moved in 1984 to their home in Indiana. The Colts franchise dates back to 1946 when they started in Baltimore, MD. Under Don Shula, the Colts appeared in their first SuperBowl in 1968 losing to Joe Namath and the Jets. In 1971 the Baltimore Colts returned to the SuperBowl and beat the Cowboys. After that the team faded into obscurity with miserable seasons and they were the worst team in the league along with the Saints for many years. Recently, with the drafting of key players like Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James to go along with veteran Marvin Harrison, the Indianapolis Colts have shot up to the top of the league with the most potent offense in the NFL since the San Diego Chargers of the early 1980's.
A fan contest produced the Colts name reflecting the great tradition and proud history of horse breeding and racing in the Baltimore region. The original Colts disbanded after the 1950 season but the name was retained when a new Baltimore franchise began play in 1953.
Super Bowl Champions: (1)
NFL Champions (pre 1966): (2)
Super Bowls Appearances: (2)
NFL Championship Games (Pre-1966): (3)
Division Champions: (8)
Playoff Appearences: (10)
1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1977 1987, 1995. 1996, 1999. 2000, 2002. 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Indianapolis Colts Playoff Results
AFC Wildcard Game: won 23 - 8 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 18 - 21 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Wildcard Game: won 49 - 24 vs. Denver Broncos
AFC Wildcard Game: won 41 - 10 vs. Denver Broncos
AFC Wildcard Game: lost 0 - 41 at New York Jets
AFC Wildcard Game: lost 17 - 23 at Miami Dolphins
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 16 - 19 vs. Tennessee Titans
AFC Wildcard Game: lost 14 - 42 at Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Wildcard Game: won 35 - 20 at San Diego Chargers
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 21 - 38 at Cleveland Browns
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 31 - 37 vs. Oakland Raiders
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 14 - 40 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Divisional Playoff: lost 10 - 28 at Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Divisional Playoff: won 20 - 3 at Cleveland Browns
AFC Divisional Playoff: won 17 - 0 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
NFL Divisional Playoff: won 24 - 14 vs. Minnesota Vikings
NFL Divisional Playoff: lost 10 - 13 at Green Bay Packers
NFL Championship Game: lost 0 - 27 at Cleveland Browns
NFL Championship Game: won 31 - 16 vs. New York Giants
NFL Championship Game: won 23 - 17 at New York Giants
All-time playoff record: 17 - 16
Super Bowl Champions: (1)
Super Bowls Appearances: (1)
AFC Championship Games: (2)
Division Champions: (4)
Playoff Appearences: (10)
Record in Playoff Games:
There have been two unrelated NFL teams called the Baltimore Colts.
The team that is now currently the Indianapolis Colts can be said to
have had a long trip to get to where they are today. Officially the
NFL considers the Colts to have begun play in 1953 in Baltimore. It
was created from the nucleus that had previously been the Boston
Yanks 1944-48, New York Bulldogs 1949, New York Yanks 1950-51 and the
Dallas Texans 1952.
The Texans wore blue and white - the reason the Colts have those colors today.
Meanwhile, the first Colts team started in the All-America Football Conference in 1946 as the Miami Seahawks. They moved to Baltimore in 1947. In 1950, they joined the National Football League and finished the season with a record of 1 11. They folded after the 1950 season; however, supporting groups such as a fan club and a marching band remained in operation and worked for the team's revival.
In 1953, Carroll Rosenbloom became the principal owner of the new NFL Baltimore Colts. In 1958, coached by Hall of Famer Weeb Ewbank and led by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, the Colts defeated the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium 23-17 in the NFL championship game, an overtime contest sometimes called "The Greatest Game Ever Played." The Colts repeated as NFL champions in 1959, beating the Giants again, 31-16. In the early 1960s the Colts continued as an elite NFL team although they lost the NFL championship game in 1964 to the Cleveland Browns, 27-0.
The 1967 Colts entered the final week of the regular season undefeated, but then a 34-10 loss to the Rams at Los Angeles kept them out of the playoffs as the result gave both teams a final record of 11-1-2, with the Rams being awarded first place in the Western Conference's Coastal Division because they won the head-to-head series (the first meeting between the two teams, at Baltimore, ended in a 24-24 tie).
In 1968, after a 13-1 season, they gained a measure of revenge against the Browns, defeating them 34-0 in the NFL championship game. The 13-1 regular season and the trouncing of the Browns led NFL-based media to call the Colts "the greatest pro football team of all time". The Colts went into Super Bowl III (the first in the series to officially be called the Super Bowl) against the American Football League's New York Jets as 17-point favorites, with NFL icons like Pro Bowlers Bobby Boyd (db), Mike Curtis (lb), John Mackey (te), Tom Matte (rb), Fred Miller (dl), Earl Morrall (qb), Willie Richardson (wr), and Bob Vogel (ol).
The result of the game was one of the greatest upsets in sports history as Joe Namath and Matt Snell led the American Football League champion Jets to a World Championship over the NFL's Colts, 16-7. Ironically, the Jets were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had previously led the Colts to two NFL titles.
Rosenbloom, Art Modell (Browns), and Art Rooney (Steelers) facilitated the NFL merger with the American Football League, by joining the ten AFL teams in the AFC. After the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the Colts moved to the American Football Conference (AFC) and won the AFC championship against the Oakland Raiders 27-17. Baltimore went on to win the first post-merger Super Bowl (Super Bowl V) against the NFC's Dallas Cowboys 16-13, on a Jim O'Brien field goal. Since there was only one league after 1969, the Colts' 1970 Super Bowl win was the NFL championship, as were all Super Bowls thereafter.
The Baltimore Colts Super Bowl V trophy is on display in Baltimore at
the Sports Legends Museum.
On July 13, 1972, Rosenbloom traded the Colts to Robert Irsay for the Los Angeles Rams, but the players remained in their same respective cities. The Colts made the playoffs four more times in the 1970s - a wild card in 1972 and three consecutive AFC East titles in 1975 through 1977 (led in these latter years by the NFL's best defensive line, known colloquially as the "Sack Pack"), but then endured nine consecutive losing seasons beginning in 1978, a year which saw the club get shut out in its first two games - a fate which has befallen no NFL team since. In 1981, the defense was the main problem: The Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points, and also set an all-time record for fewest sacks (13) and a modern record for fewest punt returns (12). The following year the offense collapsed: On November 28, 1982, the Colts' offense did not cross mid-field in an entire game, played at Buffalo against the Bills; this would not happen again in an NFL game until 2000. The Colts also finished 0-8-1 in 1982, only nine games having been played that year due to a 57-day players' strike; no NFL team has since neglected to win a game in an entire season.
. . . Back in Baltimore
For nearly 40 years the Colts called Baltimore home. During that
time, with players such as Johnny Unitas and coaches such as Don
Shula, the Colts enjoyed great success and popularity. The team won
two World Championships, and the 1971 Super Bowl.
But after three more division titles in the mid-70s, the Colts went into a decline, posting a 2-14 record in 1980 and an 0-8-1 record in the strike-shortened 1982 season. Owner Robert Irsay, who acquired the Colts in 1972, wanted the city of Baltimore to upgrade its stadium..
As it stood, the Colts stadium had one level of wooden bleachers that could seat 31,000 fans. After failing to get a pro baseball team at Memorial Stadium, the city decided to rebuild the stadium to try to lure the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore. The city succeeded and the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. An upper deck without a roof and new seats were added. The capacity increased from 31,000 to 46,000. The stadium took a rounded horseshoe appearance and the second tier spanned the inside of the horseshoe.
The Baltimore Colts played their inaugural first game at Memorial Stadium ("worlds largest outdoor insane asylum" built in 1950) on September 27, 1953. Over 46,000 fans filled the two tier structure to watch the Colts play the Chicago Bears. Memorial Stadium underwent several expansions during its existence. Box seats were added in 1961 increasing the capacity to 49,000. By 1964, the upper deck was lengthened, with two sections added at both ends of the horseshoe. The seating capacity was increased to 54,000 for baseball and 65,000 for football. Memorial Stadium was a great place to watch a baseball game, but a terrible place to watch football. During football season, the field was laid out so that the upper deck extended sixty yards, from the end zone of the horseshoe, past the 50-yard line to the 40-yard line where it ended on both sides. Not only were quality seats missing, but along with the obstructed seating, the "horseshoe" shape of the stadium was terrible for football, because the 40-50 yard line seats actually took fans away from the field. By the early 1980's, the Colts became dissatisfied with Memorial Stadium. The team wanted their own stadium to play at.
But with attendance dwindling and the team playing poorly, city officials were wary of such an investment. Relations between Irsay and the city worsened, and he began shopping his team around to other cities hungry for an NFL franchise.
Meanwhile in Indianapolis . . .
With the efforts of local real estate developer Robert Welch, and the decision to build the Hoosier Dome, hopes were high that Indianapolis would be getting an NFL expansion team, with Welch as team owner.
Then came word that Robert Irsay was unhappy in Baltimore and shopping his Colts around. Indiana Pacers' owner Herb Simon made the initial contact with Colts officials and on February 13, Colts representatives came to town to look at the Hoosier Dome. Negotiations with Indianapolis, and several other cities, were reported during the next six weeks amid speculation that Irsay was only pretending to negotiate to get a better deal in Baltimore.
In the midst of the Colts negotiations, Welch confirmed that he had
been in talks with New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom about buying
the team and moving it to Indianapolis. But Mecom decided he wanted
to keep the team in New Orleans. Upon hearing that the Colts might
relocate, Mayor Bill Hudnut formed what came to be called the
"706 Club" (the number of the room in the Columbia Club
where they met), composed of David Frick (who was the chief
negotiator of the ultimate deal with Irsay), Nick Frenzel, James T.
Morris, Herb Simon, P.E. MacAllister and Tom Moses. On February 26,
Hudnut met with Welch, who led the movement to build the Hoosier Dome
and bring professional football to Indianapolis, to tell him about
the Colts and to seek his support. Those working to acquire the team
endured a month of planning, negotiating, frustration, uncertainty
and rumors that the Colts were going elsewhere, or not moving at all.
Phoenix businessmen withdrew their offer the morning of March 28 and
Irsay called Hudnut that afternoon and told him the team was coming.
Hudnut immediately called John B. Smith, his friend, neighbor and
chief executive officer of Mayflower Transit Co., Irsay and Hudnut
arranged for the franchise to move from Baltimore immediately, and
secretly, overnight, before the official announcement on March 29
The vans arrived that night in Owings Mills, in suburban Baltimore,
and in a late-season snow storm were loaded with business records,
official books, equipment and all other materials not nailed down
were loaded onto 12 Mayflower moving vans.and the move to
Indianapolis was on, with Mayflower picking up the tab.
The dramatic move enraged citizens and officials of Baltimore, and the state of Maryland. Irsay's son Jim said moving the team was a difficult decision, and one his father had hoped not to have to make. The final straw, necessitating the dramatic move, was action by the Maryland legislature to use eminent domain laws to force the franchise to remain in Maryland.
Mayor Hudnut held a press conference March 29 to announce an agreement had been reached and the team was moving to Indianapolis. The deal was sealed March 30 with approval by the Capital Improvement Board, which operated the Hoosier Dome.
At an introductory rally April 2 in the dome, 20,000 fans welcomed Irsay, Hudnut, Frick and Colts coach Frank Kush with 11 standing ovations.
A legal battle ensued, which ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and bills were filed in both the U.S. House and Senate seeking to block the move. In December 1985, a U.S. District Court judge threw out the lawsuit which sought to return the team to Maryland. In March 1986, an agreement was reached between the city of Baltimore and the Colts. It allowed for dismissal of all suits seeking to return the team, and for the Indianapolis Colts organization to endorse a new NFL team for Baltimore.
Jim Irsay was named general manager of the team.
In just two short weeks the Colts sold 143,000 tickets
The Colts played their last game at Memorial Stadium on December 18, 1983.
The Colts would lose their first game of the season, at home in the
Hoosier Dome, to the Jets 14-23. The season was disappointing, as the
Colts finished 4-12.
The Colts continued its losing ways, going 4-12 in its inaugural
season in Indianapolis. From 1984-1986, the team never won more than
five games in a season and never finished higher than fourth in the
AFC East, going 12-36 during that span.
Record: 4 - 12 haway
The Colts had two first-round draft picks in 1984. They chose Leonard Coleman and Ron Solt.
Coleman could not reach an agreement with the Colts until early in 1985, and spent 1984 playing in the U.S. Football League. Other notable picks that year included Kevin Call in the 5th round and Eugene Daniel in the 8th.
Record: 5 - 11
Under new Coach Rod Dowhower, the Colts continued to struggle losing
11 of their first 14 games. However the Colts would end the season on
a strong note winning their final 2 games to finish with a 5-11
record. The lone bright spot of the season was LB Duane Bickett, who
won the Defensive Rookie of the year after being the Colts 1st Round
pick in the draft.
The Colts' first-round draft pick was linebacker Duane Bickett
August 23: The Colts officially move their headquarters to a new
facility on 56th Street.
Record: 3 - 13
The Colts season was over before it ever started as they lost their first 13 games of the season. Making matters worse was that only 2 of the losses were by less then a Touchdown. After their 13th loss Coach Rod Dowhower was fired and replaced by Ron Meyer. The move would work as the Colts won the last 3 games of the season under Meyer.
The Colts drafted Jon Hand in the first round, Jack Trudeau in the
2nd and Bill Brooks in the 4th round.
On April 19 in a show of good will, the Colts open their complex to
The team had a terrible season, losing the first 13 games before firing Rod Dowhower. Dowhower was replaced by Coach Ron Meyer on Dec. 1 who would finish the season strong, guiding the Colts to three straight victories to finish the season, 3-13.
Record: 9 - 6
The Colts get off to a 0-2 start before the
players went on strike. During the replacement games the Colts scabs
played well, winning 2 of their 3 games. When the regulars returned
the Colts improved to 3-3 with a win over the New England Patriots.
Prior to playing their next game the atmosphere surrounding the Colts
changed dramatically, when they acquired star RB Eric Dickerson in a
3-team deal on Halloween. Playing without Dickerson the next day the
Colts improved to 4-3 with a win in New York over the Jets. In just 8
games with Colts Dickerson rushes for 1,011 yards as the Colts go 5-3
to win the Division with a 9-6 record. However in the Divisional
Round the Colts were defeated by the Browns 38-21 in Cleveland.
Two weeks into the regular season The NFL Players Association went on a 24-day strike. One week of games was cancelled, and for three weeks the teams played with replacement players.
By virtue of their 3-13 record, the Colts are awarded the second
overall pick in the college draft.
Ron Meyer guided the Colts to the AFC East crown with a 9-6 record. It was the first time the Colts had made the playoffs in 10 years; for his efforts, Meyer won the AFC's Coach of the Year award.
Most notable, it was Trudeau who quarterbacked the Colts much of 1987.
In a crucial 9-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns that season, Trudeau completed 20 of 34 passes for 192 yards and did not throw an interception. He finished the season completing 128 of 229 passes for 1,587 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions.
In a 24-6 victory over Tampa Bay that clinched the division title, he completed 17 of 27 passes for 246 yards. Again, he was not intercepted.
Duane Bickett made the Pro Bowl
Another key to the season was obtaining Eric Dickerson.
November 29, The Colts enjoy their highest scoring game in more than
a decade, routing the Oilers 51-27.
Unfortunately, the club's postseason dreams were dashed early, losing to the Cleveland Browns 21-38. in the first round of the playoffs.
Six Colts are named to the Pro Bowl, including Bickett, Dickerson,
center Ray Donaldson, kicker Dean Biasucci, tackle Chris Hinton and
guard Ron Solt.
The Colts stumble out of the gate losing 5 of their first 6 games. However the Colts would rebound to win their next 5 games, including the first Monday Night Game at the Hoosier Dome on Halloween, in which Eric Dickerson show cased his talents in a 55-23 mauling of the Denver Broncos. The Colts would go on to finish with a 9-7 record, as Eric Dickerson won the rushing title with 1,659 yards rushing. However, the Colts would miss out on the playoffs by 1 game.
Record: 9 - 7
Due to the Dickerson trade the Colts had no draft pick until the
third round when they took quarterback
In the Colts' first Monday Night Football appearance at the Hoosier Dome they defeated Denver 55-23 before an ecstatic Halloween night crowd.
Dickerson became the first Colt since Alan Ameche in 1955 to win the NFL rushing title, and the first ever to top 2,000 yards in a season.
Dean Biasucci - Kicker. The first Colt, to hit twice from the 50+ range (50, 51) in the same game.
The Colts post their second straight winning season with a 9-7 record, however, failed to make the playoffs
Although they fail to get back into the playoffs, the team's winning
ways the past two seasons have a positive effect on overall attendance.
Record: 8 - 8
Eric Dickerson has another stellar season rushing
for 1,311 yards, while surpassing the 10,000-yard mark in his career.
However, the Colts only play mediocre football, and sit at 8-7
needing to win the final game of the season to make the postseason.
Unfortunately, the Colts were never even in the game losing 41-6 to
the Saints in New Orleans.
The Colts used their first round pick on wide receiver Andre Rison.
The Colts, in their third full season under Head Coach Ron Meyer, again were hurt by early season struggles. They lost four of their first 10 games, recovering to win four of five games to inch back in the playoff chase.
The hopes didnt end until the final week of the season when a week after 42-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins the Colts traveled to New Orleans. A victory would get them into the AFC Playoffs. They lost, 41-6, finishing 8-8 and out of the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Record: 7 - 9
The Colts do some draft day wheeling and dealing
trading WR Andre Rison, and draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons so
they could move up and draft Indianapolis native Jeff George, with
the number 1 overall pick. George would have a stellar rookie season
passing for 2,152 yards while throwing 16 TD passes. However, things
were not as sunny for RB Eric Dickerson who held out of training
camp, during a contract dispute. The Colts would end up suspending
Dickerson 4 games for conduct detrimental to the team. He would
return late in the season and rush for 677 yards, as the Colts
finished with a 7-9 record.
Possibly the worst off-season move in the history of
professional football was made by the Indianapolis Colts in 1990.
Tony Siragusa (The Goose) signed as a rookie free agent from the University of Pittsburgh.
Jeff George, who would play four seasons in Indianapolis, gained confidence and the team won at New England, then beat the New York Jets at home. They then beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-20, in Cincinnati with Dickerson having his biggest game of the season, rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Jeff George had a solid year for a rookie quarterback, but problems would soon rise as Eric Dickerson was boycotting training camp and refusing to take physicals and was placed on the non-football injury list for six weeks. He was subsequently suspended four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and forfeited $750,000 in wages and fines.
The Colts posted a 7-9 record but the season was a disaster.
The Colts would get off to a miserable start losing their first 5 games before Coach Ron Meyer was fired and replaced by Rick Venturi. Under Venturi the Colts struggle would continue as they lost their first 4 under their new coach. The Colts would finally get their first win of the season on a cold and rainy afternoon in the Meadowlands, as the Beat the New York Jets by 1 point. That win would go on to be the Colts only win of the season finishing with an awful 1-15 record, as Eric Dickerson rushed for only 535 yards as the Colts scored an embarrassing 143 points on the season.
The season was the most miserable in the history of the Colts in Indianapolis.
After a couple years of slow decline, the wheels came off on the Indianapolis franchise in 1991. Head coach Ron Meyer resigned after five games and was replaced by Rick Venturi, who would later achieve similar futility with the New Orleans Saints. Indianapolis finished the season 1-15, their worst record since going 2-12 in 1974. The team also scored just 143 points, the lowest total ever in a 16 game season.
Ron Meyer was fired after the fifth game of the season.
But there was one bright point.
They never should have beaten us, Jets guard Dwayne White told the New York Times afterward.
To try and bring some gory back to the team the Colts hire Ted Marchibroda, who coached the team to 3 straight Division Titles in the late 70's, while in Baltimore. The Colts had two first-round draft picks and chose Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryatt. On the same day of the draft they traded away RB Eric Dickerson ending a sometimes-stormy relationship, with their star RB. Before the season even started the Colts were rocked by tragedy when DE Shane Curry was shot to death outside a Cincinnati nightclub in a dispute over a car blocking the nightclub's driveway. After the chaotic off-season the Colts got off on the right foot beating the Cleveland Browns in the season opener at the Hoosier Dome. However in a puzzling move cut QB Mark Hermann who led the team in the win. With Jeff George back under center the Colts would win just 3 of their next 10 games. However the team would end the season on a strong not winning their final 5 games narrowly missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
The Colts had two first-round draft picks and chose Steve Emtman and
Ted Marchibroda a one time Baltimore Colts Head Coach was hired back to see if he could work the same magic he produced with the Baltimore Colts when he won 3 straight Division Titles in the mid- to late 1970s.
The Colts were back!
The Colts would open in the Hoosier Dome, against the Cleveland
Browns, and put on a massive display of defense, sacking Bernie Kosar
On May 3, 1992, second-year defensive end Shane Curry was shot to
death outside a Cincinnati nightclub in a dispute over a car blocking
the nightclub's driveway. Then, in a disastrous public relations
move, the Colts cut Mark Herrmann the day after he led a
season-opening victory at home over Cleveland - and one week after
another popular player, Albert Bentley, had been let go.
Record: 4 - 12
The Colts struggled all year from the lack of a running game, and a passing game, going at one point 20 quarters without a touchdown. The defense was not much better, as the Colts went 4-12 amid dwindling crowds. They ended the year with a 4-game losing streak, and had 8 losses in their last 9 games.
After winning their last five games in 1992, the Colts struggled early in 1993, losing to Miami, then winning at Cincinnati and at home against Cleveland before losing three consecutive games.
The Colts then beat New England, 9-6, before losing eight of their final nine games, failing to score more than 17 points in the last eight games.
Change was the watchword before the season. The Colts released four-time Pro Bowl center Ray Donaldson and allowed wide receiver Bill Brooks to sign with the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent.
The groundwork for another, more major change, also was being laid. Quarterback Jeff George, in his fourth season since being drafted first overall in 1990, held out during training camp. He completed 234 of 407 passes for 2,526 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions.
George was traded to the Atlanta Falcons the following off-season.
They suffered all year from the lack of a running game, and no leader on offense, a passing game (20 quarters without a touchdown), the defense was often weak and the team as a whole was missing too much to contend.
Amid dwindling crowds, the Colts wobbled into the offseason with a 4-12 record.
Record: 8 - 8
The Colts shake up their entire team trading QB Jeff George to the Atlanta Falcons, and drafting RB Marshall Faulk in the first round of the NFL Draft. Faulk would have an impressive season first season winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 1,804 All-Purpose Yards. The Colts would play only mediocre football most of the season before winning 3 of their last 4 games to finish with an 8-8 record.
Gone with Jeff George were Jack Trudeau, Reggie Langhorne, Jessie
Hester, Duane Bickett, Clarence Verdin, Bill Schultz, Sam Clancy,
Trevor Matich, and John Baylor.
Jim Harbaugh, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears before the season, completed 125 of 202 passes for 1,440 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions
Despite going undefeated in the preseason the Colts opened the regular season with an all-time low attendance of 47,372.
The Colts would play only mediocre football most of the season before winning 3 of their last 4 games to finish with an 8-8 record.
September 4, 1994
Colts 45, Oilers 21
The Colts led 7-0, but early in the second quarter, the Houston Oilers were threatening to tie the '94 season opener at the RCA Dome. On 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Colts veteran linebacker Tony Bennett picked up a fumble at the Colts 25, then returned it 75 yards for the second-longest fumble return in team history. Bennett's return was the key to a 28-point second quarter.
Steelers 31, Colts 21
Not everything went well for the Colts in Three Rivers Stadium, but in the early going, nothing could go wrong. The Colts took a 14-0 lead, getting seven on a 78-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter by linebacker Quentin Coryatt. But their first seven came on this opening kickoff, which Ronald Humphrey returned 95 yards for a touchdown.
October 16, 1994
Colts 27, Bills 17
The Colts led 17-10 early in the fourth quarter of a closely fought game in Buffalo. After being tied 10-10 at halftime, the Colts took a seven-point lead, then with just over eight minutes remaining, Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh left with an injury. Two plays later, on 1st-and-goal from the 19, backup quarterback Don Majkowski completed this 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner for a two-touchdown lead.
October 23, 1994
Redskins 41, Colts 27
All was well for the Colts early against the Redskins at the RCA Dome and all got better when quarterback Jim Harbaugh found running back Marshall Faulk open deep down the middle of the field. Faulk turned the play into this 85-yard touchdown pass that gave the Colts a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter. Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte threw two touchdown passes in his debut as the Redskins rallied.
November 27, 1994
Patriots 12, Colts 10
In Week 13 at the RCA Dome, the Colts trailed 9-7 early in the second quarter - until Colts kicker Dean Biassuci's 50-yard field goal gave them a 10-9 lead. The Patriots rallied to win on a 42-yard field goal by kicker Matt Bahr - his fourth of the day - that ricocheted off the left upright with 4:01 remaining.
December 4, 1994
Colts 31, Seahawks 19
After trailing 10-0 early, the Colts were in the middle of a comeback, holding momentum and trailing by three, 10-7. With just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer threw to wide receiver Kelvin Martin from the Seahawks 20. Colts cornerback Ray Buchanon intercepted at the Seahawks 37 and the ensuing return gave the Colts a lead they never relinquished.
December 18, 1994
Colts 10, Dolphins 6
Late in the first quarter at the RCA Dome, the Colts trailed the Dolphins 3-0. Then, Dewell Brewer broke this 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, then the fourth-longest such play in team history. That was the game's only touchdown as the Colts held the Dolphins on six consecutive plays inside the five-yard late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Record: 9 - 7
After a 1-2 start Jim Harbaugh earns back the
starting QB jobs and leads the Colts on a wild ride that would see
them finish 9-7 and qualify for the playoffs. In Harbaugh's first 3
games at QB He led the Colts to comeback wins in each of his first 3
starts earning him the nickname "Captain Comeback", and the
team the "Cardiac Colts." Many of the Colts wins were close
hard fought games that the gutsy Colts just pulled out by the
strength of their wills. In the playoffs they were going to need
allot more then wills, playing in the Wild Card round without RB
Marshall Faulk. However, the Colts did not skip a beat and stunned
the Chargers in San Diego 35-20. A week later the Colts were expected
to go down again, but thanks to 5 missed FGs from Chiefs PK Lynn
Elliot, the Colts pulled out a 10-7 win to advance to the AFC
Championship in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs were underdogs again facing
the Steelers with a trip to Super Bowl XXX on the line. The Colts
would hang tough all game long but trailed 20-16, needing a miracle
on the final play to win the game. From midfield Harbaugh would fire
it up to the endzone and the ball bounced around in and out of the
arms of WR Aaron Bailey's arms ending the Colts season.
Craig Erickson, acquired in a draft-day trade with Tampa Bay, turned out to be a colossal bust and one of the worst decisions made by the front office in recent years.
There was drama. There were heartbreaks. There were more comebacks than could rightfully be expected in a single NFL season.
There was also very nearly a Super Bowl appearance.
Such was the story of the Indianapolis Colts 1995 season.
The season was magical.
During the season, Harbaugh engineered four fourth-quarter come
from behind wins, earning him the nickname "Captain
Comeback", and the team the "Cardiac Colts."
Many of the Colts wins were close hard fought games that the gutsy
Colts just pulled out by the strength of their wills. In the playoffs
they were going to need allot more then wills, playing in the Wild
Card round without RB Marshall Faulk.
One minute, 34 seconds away from it all, Colts Head Coach Ted Marchibroda said afterward. Thats a tribute to the players.
The 1:34 to which Marchibroda referred was the time remaining in the AFC Championship Game when the Steelers took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Bam Morris.
The Colts nearly pulled out a victory, anyway.
Starting at their own 15, they drove 56 yards to face 3rd-and-1 from the Steelers 29 with five seconds remaining. On the games final play, Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh threw to the end zone. Wide receiver Aaron Bailey briefly had control, but lost the ball and when it fell the turf, the most successful season in Indianapolis Colts history was suddenly over.
I had it for a split second, Bailey said. But yeah, I realized it rolled to the ground.
Despite the loss, Harbaugh established himself as the team's leader,
earning Comeback Player of the Year honors from the Pro Football
Writers of America.
Despite the success on the field, it was a time of turmoil in the
September 3, 1995
Bengals 24, Colts 21
With time running out in the fourth quarter in the RCA Dome, the Colts were rallying from a game-long deficit, but still trailed 21-13 with possession at the Bengals five. Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, operating from the shotgun, passed five yards to receiver Flipper Anderson for a touchdown with three seconds remaining. A two-point conversion pass from Harbaugh to Anderson tied the game, but the Bengals drove for the winning field goal on the first series of overtime.
September 10, 1995
Colts 27, Jets 24
The Colts, after trailing 17-0 late in the first half and 24-3 in the third quarter in the Meadowlands, rallied to tie it 24-24 late in the fourth quarter. With 10:33 remaining in overtime, kicker Mike Cofer's 52-yard field goal won it for the Colts. Cofer's kick was then the longest game-winning overtime kick in NFL history.
October 8, 1995
Colts 27, Dolphins 24
The Colts, after falling behind, 24-3, to the Dolphins, rallied to cut the lead to 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter at Joe Robbie Stadium. Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who completed 25 of 33 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns, tied it at 24-all with 1:09 remaining on this 21-yard pass to wide receiver Aaron Bailey.
October 15, 1995
Colts 18, 49ers 17
The Colts upset the defending Super Bowl champion 49ers in the RCA Dome in mid-October, a game that helped catapult the Colts into the playoffs. On this series, quarterback Steve Young drove the 49ers deep into Colts territory late in the first half, but the Colts' defense stopped San Francisco on two consecutive plays to stay within one point at halftime.
October 15, 1995
Colts 18, 49ers 17
The Colts still trailed 7-6 in the third quarter, but gradually gained momentum - partly because of the goal-line stand late in the first half. On the first series of the third quarter, quarterback Jim Harbaugh drove the Colts 34 yards on three plays to give the Colts the lead. He capped the drive with a 15-yard pass to rookie tight end Ken Dilger, whose first career touchdown gave Indianapolis a 12-7 lead.
October 15, 1995
Colts 18, 49ers 17
The game was back-and-forth throughout the second half, with the 49ers taking a 14-12 lead, the Colts taking a 15-14 lead, the 49ers taking a 17-15 lead and finally, the Colts taking the lead, 18-17. After a 41-yard field goal by Colts kicker Cary Blanchard, the 49ers drove 31 yards on nine plays, with 49ers kicker Doug Brien missing this 46-yard field goal with 46 seconds remaining.
October 29, 1995
Colts 17, Jets 10
The Colts led 10-3, but the Jets were threatening to tie late in the first half when Jets quarterback Bubby Brister threw toward the end zone. On what turned out to be the final play of the first half, Colts cornerback Eugene Daniel intercepted at the 3-yard line and returned it for this touchdown that the Colts' defense made stand up.
November 12, 1995
Saints 17, Colts 14
The Colts went on the road to New Orleans and nearly pulled out a victory in their quest for a playoff berth. This was the Colts' biggest offensive play of the game. They trailed 14-7 early in the fourth quarter after a Saints touchdown late in the third quarter. Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, after not starting because of a groin injury, came in in the third quarter to engineer a 73-yard touchdown drive that he capped with this 40-yard touchdown pass to running back Roosevelt Potts.
November 19, 1995
Colts 24, Patriots 10
The Colts controlled this AFC East game throughout most of the final three quarters, but needed a score to clinch it in the second half. Midway through the fourth quarter, quarterback Jim Harbaugh drove the Colts 73 yards on seven plays, using four minutes, 32 seconds. Harbaugh capped the drive with a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner with 8:55 remaining for a 24-10 Colts lead.
November 26, 1995
Colts 36, Dolphins 28
Seeking their first sweep of the Dolphins since 1988, the Colts took a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter at the RCA Dome. Key to the big opening half was a long touchdown from quarterback Jim Harbaugh to wide receiver Aaron Bailey. Harbaugh escaped pressure from an eight-man front and threw deep to Bailey for a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 14-0 lead.
November 26, 1995
Colts 36, Dolphins 28
The Colts, despite getting off to a big first-half lead, needed several big defensive plays to hold off a Miami rally. One of the biggest came in the third quarter. Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino dropped to throw from his own end zone and linebacker Quentin Coryatt sacked him in the end zone for a safety and a 26-14 Colts lead.
December 10, 1995
Colts 41, Jaguars 31
Needing a victory to enhance their playoff chances, the Colts traveled to Jacksonville to play the expansion Jaguars. On the opening kickoff, wide receiver Aaron Bailey took the ball on the Colts 5-yard line. Ninety-five yards later, this play gave the Colts an early 7-0 lead they never relinquished.
December 10, 1995
Colts 41, Jaguars 31
Although his kickoff return gave the Colts the early lead, Bailey wasn't done. Later in the first quarter, the Colts drove 66 yards on 12 plays to move the ball to the Jaguars 14. On this play, quarterback Craig Erickson passed 14 yards to Bailey to extend the Colts' lead to two touchdowns. Although Jacksonville fought back, the Jaguars never got closer than seven points again.
December 17, 1995
Chargers 27, Colts 24
Although the Colts lost a wild game in the RCA Dome, they made several big plays to stay in it throughout. Among the biggest came late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24-21, the Colts drove 37 yards on eight plays to the Chargers 33. With 48 seconds remaining, this 50-yard field goal by kicker Cary Blanchard tied it, 24-24. John Carney won it for the Chargers with a 43-yard field goal with three seconds remaining.
December 23, 1995
Colts 10, Patriots 7
Needing a victory to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 1987, the Colts needed a second-half rally to beat the New England Patriots in the RCA Dome. The Colts fell behind 7-0 at halftime, then in the third quarter drove 65 yards on eight plays for the tying score. That came on this 13-yard pass from quarterback Jim Harbaugh to wide receiver Floyd Turner. Kicker Cary Blanchard kicked a 30-yard field goal with 5:51 remaining for the margin of victory.
December 31, 1995
Colts 35, Chargers 20
In the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, the Colts pulled away from the Chargers after a tight first half. That half included a breakout game for Colts rookie running back Zack Crockett. Subbing for injured running back Marshall Faulk, Crockett gave the Colts a 14-10 lead with this 33-yard touchdown run with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter.
December 31, 1995
Colts 35, Chargers 20
The Colts started a memorable playoff run with a big victory in San Diego over the defending AFC Champion Chargers. The Colts led 21-20 early in the fourth quarter when running back Zach Crockett - who had rushed one time for no yards in the regular season - broke free for this 66-yard touchdown run, his second touchdown rushing of the game. He finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Record: 9 - 7
Following the Colts improbable playoff run, the
team only offered Coach Ted Marchibroda a 1-year contract. The
popular Marchibroda would turn it down and take the coaching job with
the new Baltimore Ravens. The Colts would name Lundy Infante to
replace him hoping he could get them back to the postseason. Under
Infante the Colts got off to a fast start winning their first 4
games, including a 25-24 upset of the Cowboys in Dallas. However, the
Colts would suffer a devastating string of injuries and would limp
into the playoffs as the 6th seed with a 9-7 record. However, this
time there was no postseason magic as their season ended in
Pittsburgh with a 42-14 loss in the first round to the Steelers.
Even with the success of the 1995 season, the Colts only offered head
coach Ted Marchibroda a one-year contract deal which he turned down.
Marchibroda was replaced by offensive coordinator, Lindy Infante.
Also in February,
The Colts started off 1996 the same way they finished 1995, with a
dramatic season opener decided on the last play against Arizona. The
"Cardiac Colts" opened the season 4-0, with wins over the
Jets in New York and a stunning, 25-24 upset win over the defending
Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium.
After such a meteoric rise, however, the team began to struggle as injuries decimated the roster. No team in the league suffered more injuries than the Colts in 1996. Marshall Faulk missed large blocks of playing time with a toe injury; even when he could play, he was rarely at his full abilities. Harbaugh, playing behind a makeshift offensive line, spent much of the season either running for his life or on his back, and was sacked a league-high 36 times.
Through it all, though, the team still made its way into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The 1997 rematch with the Pittsburgh Steelers was nothing like the previous year's championship game, however. In the end, the Colts were simply out muscled by the bigger, stronger and healthier Steelers, as the team lost 42-14 in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite the loss, there were some personal highlights for the Colts.
January 7, 1996
Colts 10, Chiefs 7
The Colts were heavy underdogs to the 13-3 Chiefs, but got a big lift when they tied the game in Arrowhead Stadium midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Jim Harbaugh drove the Colts 77 yards on 18 plays, a drive that consumed 8:40. The tying touchdown came on this play, a five-yard pass from Harbaugh to wide receiver Floyd Turner.
January 14, 1996
Steelers 20, Colts 16
The Colts once again were heavy underdogs as they traveled to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. But as was the case the previous week, they fought tough and were in a close game late. With 8:46 remaining, they regained the lead, 16-13, when quarterback Jim Harbaugh threw deep to wide receiver Floyd Turner, who caught it near the 10 and scored on a 47-yard touchdown.
A Game of Inches
The Colts played the favored Steelers closer than most experts predicted and on the final play of the game, had a chance to win when quarterback Jim Harbaugh threw a high pass to wide receiver Aaron Bailey in the corner of the end zone. Bailey had a chance at the ball, but the pass barely fell incomplete, ending the Colts' deepest run into the playoffs since 1971 - and their deepest since their move to Indianapolis.
September 8, 1996
Colts 21, Jets 7
The Colts were 1-0 entering the second game of the season, at the New York Jets. After the Colts took a 14-7 lead, quarterback Jim Harbaugh drove the offense 43 yards on five plays on their first drive of the fourth quarter. He capped the drive with this 12-yard run for a touchdown from shotgun formation. That gave the Colts a 21-7 lead with 11:22 remaining.
September 15, 1996
Colts 25, Cowboys 24
The Colts were coming off two consecutive victories, but fell behind the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, 21-3, midway through the second quarter. By early in the third quarter, they had cut the deficit to 21-9 when second-year tight end Marcus Pollard got free outside and turned this short screen pass into a 48-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The touchdown was the first of Pollard's career. The Colts won on a 43-yard field goal by Cary Blanchard with 51 seconds remaining.
Colts Go In Front
The Colts lost the lead early in the fourth quarter of a back and forth game when Chris Boniol's 52-yard field goal the Cowboys a 24-22 lead with 13:26 remaining. The Colts went three-and-out on their next two possessions, but starting at their own 30 with 2:48 remaining, they drove to the Cowboys 26. With 51 seconds remaining, this 43-yard field goal by Cary Blanchard gave the Colts the eventual winning points in a dramatic victory.
No Good, No Good, No Good!
The Cowboys took possession with 51 seconds remaining, and the defending Super Bowl champions drove quickly, reaching their 42 with 39 seconds remaining when quarterback Troy Aikman passed 22 yards to wide receiver Kevin Williams. Two plays later, Aikman's 19-yard pass to Kelvin Martin moved the ball to the Colts 39. That set up a 57-yard field goal attempt by Boniol, but the kick was no good, giving the Colts the victory.
November 17, 1996
Colts 34, Jets 29
The Colts spent the entire second half of the season playing tight games fighting for the playoffs. This game at the RCA Dome was no different and the big play was this interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Eugene Daniel. The Colts led 16-15 after a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh to Marvin Harrison. On the next series, Daniel intercepted Jets quarterback Frank Reich and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown and a 23-15 Colts lead.
December 1, 1996
Colts 13, Bills 10
With the Colts fighting each week for playoff position, they played host to the Buffalo Bills at the RCA Dome with each team in the playoff chase. First, Colts kicker Cary Blanchard made a 25-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in regulation. That tied it, 10-10. With 6:46 remaining in overtime, Blanchard's 49-yarder gave the Colts a victory. The overtime meant that for the second time in NFL history, both games in a season series had gone into overtime.
December 15, 1996
Colts 24, Chiefs 19
Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison would develop into one of the NFL's top receivers, but in his rookie year, he was still waiting for a breakout game. He got it in a crucial Colts victory at Arrowhead Stadium that put Indianapolis in the playoffs. Harrison caught first-quarter touchdown passes of 3 and 37 yards, then caught this 5-yard pass from quarterback Jim Harbaugh with 3:48 remaining to secure the victory. Harrison finished with six receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
December 22, 1996
Bengals 31, Colts 24
The Colts needed a big play to get back into a tight game at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Aaron Bailey delivered it. One play after a 2-yard pass from Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake to wide receiver Carl Pickens gave the Bengals a 24-17 lead with 10:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, Bailey received the kickoff on the Colts 5. Ninety-five yards and an extra point later, the Colts and Bengals were tied, 24-24. The Bengals won it on Tony McGee's five-yard touchdown reception from Blake with 5:27 remaining.
December 29, 1996
Steelers 42, Colts 14
The Steelers dominated the second half, but for a half, the game appeared a repeat of the AFC Championship Game the season before. In that game, the Colts took the Steelers to the wire at Three Rivers Stadium before losing on an incomplete Hail Mary pass at the end of the game. In this playoff game, the Steelers 13-0 until Eugene Daniel intercepted this pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown that made it 13-7. The Colts later took the lead before halftime, but the Steelers outscored the Colts, 29-0, in the second half.
Record: 3 - 13
Prior to the season Owner Robert Irsay passed away, leaving his son Jim to run the franchise. After 2 postseason appearances the Colts came crashing down to reality losing their first 10 games, in an injury plagued season. Indicative of the team's frustrating year was a hand injury QB suffered during a confrontation with Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly. The Colts would end up closing the season out with a 3-13 record, as Coach Lindy Infante was fired, and the front office was shaken up.
The Colts would bring in Bill Polian to run the
football operations *History in The Making
It was supposed to be the year everything came together.
Before the season even began, four players who had started on the team that made the AFC Championship game -- linebacker Jeff Herrod, defensive lineman Tony Siragusa, and defensive backs Ray Buchanan and Eugene Daniel -- were either waived by general manager Bill Tobin or signed with other teams.
Each player's leaving had a major impact on the team's chemistry.
Worse than the loss of Siragusa was the treatment of Daniel and Herrod, who were unceremoniously let go prior to the start of the season. Both men were quiet veterans who had led the team not with their words, but their actions on the field. Herrod had led the team in tackles seven of the past eight years, and Daniel, the last remaining player from the original "Indianapolis" Colts, was on his way to breaking Johnny Unitas' record for most games played by anyone in a Colt uniform.
But it was simply not to be.
With the heart of the defense ripped from them, and an offensive line comprised of two rookies and a group of castoffs from other clubs, the team struggled mightily in 1997, losing their first 10 games of the season before knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, 41-38.
November 16, 1997
Colts 41, Packers 38
The Colts hadn't won entering the game and the Green Bay Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions, but that didn't matter at the RCA Dome. The Colts trailed, 14-3, early, but rallied and twice took leads in the second half. With the game tied, 38-38, the Colts drove 72 yards on 11 plays, with kicker Cary Blanchard winning it on the game's last play with this 20-yard field goal.
Poor line play on both sides of the ball led to the team's demise in 1997.
As a result, the Colts finished the season at 3-13, their worst
record since 1991.
Despite finishing with the worst record in the league, there were
still a few reasons for Colt fans to have hope for next season.
Colts owner Robert Irsay died Jan. 14 and his son Jim Irsay, inherited the team.
Following the season, assuming responsibility for his team, Jim Irsay
cleaned house in December, firing both coach Linde Infante and
director of football operations Bill Tobin.
Record: 3 - 13
Finishing with a 3-13 record enabled the Colts to
draft QB Peyton Manning with the first overall draft pick. The Colts
would institute Manning as their starter right away, as he had an
impressive rookie season passing for 3,739 yards. However despite the
stellar numbers from Manning the Colts struggled to their 2nd
straight 3-13 season.
But the front office isn't the only place where
important changes have been made.
Polian also planted the Colts' seeds of the future with this past April's college draft, selecting Peyton Manning with the first overall pick, then following that up with receivers Jerome Pathon and E.G. Green and offensive linemen Steve McKinney and Aaron Taylor.
The Colts would institute Manning
as their starter right away, as he had an impressive rookie season
passing for 3,739 yards.
Hefty fullback Craig ''Ironhead'' Heyward chosen
24th in the 1988 draft by Colts coach Jim Mora
Colts dedicate upset win over Jets to "Ironhead"
Also in January, Jim Irsay and the city agreed to a revised lease at the RCA Dome which provided the Colts with $8 million a year in dome-generated revenues and assured the city the team will be here at least 10 more years.
November 15, 1998
Colts 24, Jets 23
After falling behind 23-10 at halftime, the Colts rallied for a victory over the Jets, who were bound that season for the AFC Championship Game. First, they pulled to within six on a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Then, with 24 seconds remaining, they got the game winner on this 14-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Marcus Pollard.
Record: 13 - 3
The Colts would make a change at Running Back trading Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams, and drafting Edgerrin James in the 1st round. The Colts offense would click right away with James who earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 2,159 All-Purpose Yards, and 17 Touchdowns. The In addition Peyton Manning racked up 4,135 passing yards as the Colts won the AFC East with an impressive 13-3 record. In the Divisional Playoffs the Colts hosted the Tennessee Titans in the first ever playoff game at the RCA Dome. However, the young Colts struggled in their first playoff game and were shutout in the 2nd half on the way to a heartbreaking 19-16 loss.
Third-round pick, Brandon Burlsworth, was killed in an automobile accident in Arkansas April 28.
Mike Peterson, LB, Florida (4). Pick obtained through trade with Rams
for RB Marshall Faulk along with 5th round pick in this draft (DL
The Indianapolis Colts became household names and set an NFL record, too.
The Colts, after back-to-back 3-13 seasons, started the 1999 season
2-2, then won 11 consecutive games to clinch their first AFC Eastern
Division title since 1987.
They finished 13-3 for a single-season turnaround of 10 games, the
biggest such turnaround in NFL history
The 2-2 start featured two games in which the Colts failed to hold large lead. They took a 28-7 lead in Week 2 at New England before the Patriots rallied for a 31-28 victory and two weeks later, they led the Miami Dolphins 24-15 in the fourth quarter before losing at Indianapolis, 34-31.
The next week, the Colts beat the New York Jets, 16-13, then won their next 10 games, clinching the AFC East title with a 24-21 victory over playoff-bound Washington.
The Colts clinched a first-round playoff bye late in the season, and
played host to an AFC Divisional Playoff game on January 16, 2000,
losing to the eventual AFC Champion Tennessee Titans, 19-16.
Manning, after throwing 28 interceptions as a rookie, drastically reduced that total and completed 331 of 533 passes for 4,135 yards and 26 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 90.7, and was the fourth-youngest quarterback selected to the Pro Bowl since 1971.
James, the fourth overall choice in the 1999 NFL Draft, was named first-team All-Pro and started at running back in the Pro Bowl. He had 10 100-yard games and finished with 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns on 369 carries. He also caught 62 passes for 586 yards and four touchdowns.
The 1,553 yards marked the fourth-highest all-time for an NFL rookie.
in his fourth NFL season, produced one of the best statistical
seasons in league history, catching 115 passes for 1,663 yards and 12
touchdowns. He had nine 100-yard games and led the league in
On July 20 The Colts announce:
free agent running backs Jermaine Chaney of Indiana and Joe Aska from Central Oklahoma signed.
the contract termination of veteran offensive lineman Sale Isaia, who had joined the team in the off-season as a free agent after playing with the Baltimore Ravens.
rookie offensive lineman David Andres from East Washington and offensive lineman Trey Sartin, who was on injured reserve with Indianapolis last season after signing as a rookie free agent, waived.
Also signed: Wide receiver Jason Shelley, who played this summer with Amsterdam in NFL Europe, signed a free-agent contract Saturday, July 24, with the Colts. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, July 25, 1999
Also signed: Second-round draft pick Mike Peterson, a linebacker out of Florida, signed Wednesday, July 28, after a brief holdout. -John Clayton, Thomson Indiana, July 30, 1999
Gall gone: Former Indiana fullback Chris Gall was waived Thursday, July 29, by the Colts. -John Clayton, Thomson Indiana, July 30, 1999
Added to roster: The Colts added veteran free agent safety Tito Wooten to the roster Thursday, Aug. 5. Wooten played for the New York Giants from 1994-98. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 6, 1999
Added to roster: The team announced Wednesday, Aug. 11, that it had signed veteran quarterback Steve Walsh to a free agent contract. Walsh, a former University of Miami standout, inked the two-year deal and replaces Stoney Case on the Colts' roster. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 12, 1999
Released: Stoney Case, who had been signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Phoenix Cardinals in March, was released Wednesday, Aug. 11, in order to make room for quarterback Steve Walsh. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 12, 1999
Signed: Indianapolis signed third-year offensive lineman Jamie Wilson to a free-agent contract Thursday, Aug. 12, after being placed on waivers by the Green Bay Packers. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 13, 1999
Signed: The Colts signed running back Edgerrin James to a seven-year, $49 million contract on Thursday, Aug. 12. The two-year starter at the University of Miami (Fla.) was the Colts' first-round selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. -Tribune-Star, Aug. 13, 1999
Released: In the wake of the Edgerrin James signing Thursday, Aug. 12, the Colts released second-year wide receiver Kio Sanford who played collegiately at Kentucky. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 13, 1999
Colts waive three: Waived Monday, Aug. 16, were quarterback Jim Kubiak from Navy; tight end Joe Kuykendall, a rookie from Oregon State; and linebacker Antony Jordan from Vanderbilt. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 17, 1999
Position change: With the release of Kuykendall, rookie free agent offensive tackle Joshua Keur has been moved to tight end. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 17, 1999
Signed: Indianapolis signed veteran running back Vaughn Hebron to a one-year contract Tuesday, Aug. 17. Hebron, to be used as both a running back and kick returner with the Colts, has played with the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos. -Tom James, Tribune-Star, Aug. 18, 1999
September 3, 1999
Colts 27, Chiefs 14
The Colts, defending AFC East Champions, traveled to Arrowhead Stadium for the 2000 season opener. After a tight first three quarters, they led 17-14 early in the fourth quarter. Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac threw to wide receiver Derrick Alexander, but Colts cornerback Jeff Burris stepped in front and returned the interception 27 yards for a touchdown and the Chiefs never threatened again.
September 19, 1999
Patriots 31, Colts 28
In what was to be a rare loss for the Colts that season, they started quickly, leading throughout the first three quarters before the Patriots' rally. A key play in the early spurt for the Colts came in the first quarter: this 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Marvin Harrison, each of whom were developing into players who would make the Pro Bowl following the season.
September 26, 1999
Colts 27, Patriots 19
After the Colts' loss to the Patriots, they inched back above .500 with a victory on the road over the San Diego Chargers. With less than three minutes remaining, quarterback Peyton Manning drove the Colts to a touchdown that gave the team its final eight-point margin of victory, capping the drive with this 26-yard pump-and-go touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Terrence Wilkins.
October 10, 1999
Dolphins 34, Colts 31
The Colts continued to gain confidence in the early part of what was to be a remarkable season. They didn't win this game, but it took a dramatic comeback from Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino for Miami to pull out the Miami victory. This 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcus Pollard showed the growing diversity of the Colts' offense and gave them a 31-22 lead in the fourth quarter.
October 17, 1999
Colts 16, Jets 13
The Colts, after two seasons out of the playoffs, were gaining momentum with a new core of players that included quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Early in the season they were 2-2 heading to the Meadowlands in New Jersey to play their AFC East rivals, the Jets. The teams were tied 13-13 late when cornerback Jeff Burris intercepted this pass from Jets quarterback Ray Lucas in the end zone. He returned it 55 yards and after the ensuing drive, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt's 27-yard field goal with four seconds remaining gave the Colts the victory.
October 24, 1999
Colts 31, Bengals 10
One of the keys to the 1999 season was the development of wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Already an established receiver, he became one of the league's elite that season. Early in a convincing victory over the Bengals at the RCA Dome, he caught this 56-yard touchdown from quarterback Peyton Manning to start the Colts on their way to victory.
October 31, 1999
Colts 34, Cowboys 24
The Colts were 4-2 entering a game at the RCA Dome with the Cowboys. The teams went back and forth for three quarters and as the fourth quarter opened, the Cowboys led 24-21. On the first play of the quarter, however, Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison got behind Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders, who was peeking into the backfield on a play-action fake by quarterback Peyton Manning. Harrison's 40-yard touchdown gave the Colts a 38-24 lead they never relinquished.
December 5, 1999
Colts 37, Dolphins 34
The Colts, three-point losers to the Dolphins early in the 1999 season, needed a victory at Pro Player Stadium in Miami to take a two-game lead in the AFC East race. After Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare kicked a 32-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining to tie it, 34-34, overtime appeared likely. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, however, passed 16 and 18 yards to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt then hit this 53-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Colts the victory.
December 19, 1999
Colts 24, Redskins 21
The Colts, winners of nine consecutive games, entered a game against playoff-contending Washington in the RCA Dome with a chance to clinch their first AFC East title since 1987. The teams were tied, 0-0, midway through the first quarter when Manning passed deep down the sideline to rookie running back Edgerrin James. Tight-roping the sideline, James caught the pass and squeezed into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Record: 10 - 6
The Colts offense had impressive moments, sprinting through defenders
with a no-huddle attack that left their opponents little time to
catch their breath, as Peyton Manning passed for 4,413 yards, and
Edgerrin James collected 2,303 All-Purpose Yards. However the Colts
defense was erratic, performing well, at time but more often gave up
yards at crucial moments. Eight games into the season the Colts were
6-2, though some of the wins had been heart-stoppers with last-minute
heroics overcoming earlier mistakes. Then they lost 4 of the next 5
games, and suddenly even making it into playoffs was in doubt. With 3
games left in the season the Colts only chance was to win all 3,
which they did to finish with a 10-6 record. In the Wild Card round
at Miami the Colts led the Dolphins by 14 in the 3rd Quarter.
However, the Dolphins would comeback and force overtime where they
stunned the Dolphins on a Lamar Smith TD run to pull out a 23-17 win,
keeping Coach Jim Mora winless in the playoffs.
Jim Irsay even talked about winning three Super Bowls in a row.
The Colts offense had impressive moments, sprinting through defenders
with a no-huddle attack that left their opponents little time to
catch their breath, as Peyton
Manning passed for 4,413 yards, and Edgerrin
James collected 2,303 All-Purpose Yards.
Eight games into the season the Colts were 6-2, though some of
the wins had been heart-stoppers with last-minute heroics overcoming
On Dec. 11, as they had earlier in the season, the Colts dominated on
Monday Night Football.
The organization entered the off-season knowing the area most in need of attention was the defense.
Vanderjagt becomes highest paid kicker in the NFL
September 25, 2000
Colts 43, Jaguars 14
The Colts led throughout most of the first half and were controlling the momentum at the RCA Dome, but the Jaguars still had hopes of a comeback. Trailing 24-14, the Jaguar faced 2nd-and-10 at their own 12 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. When Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell dropped to pass, Colts defensive end Chad Bratzke sacked him in the end zone for this safety and a 26-14 Colts lead, helping Indianapolis pull away.
October 1, 2000
Colts 18, Bills 16
Little would be easy for the Colts all season, and this victory over the Buffalo Bills wasn't, either. The Bills let 9-0 in the first half, and despite two second-half touchdown passes by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Buffalo still led late, 16-15. On the game's final drive, Manning drove the Colts 42 yards on eight plays, a drive that culminated with this 45-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.
October 15, 2000
Colts 27, Seahawks 14
The Colts traveled to Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash., needing a victory to stay above .500 and they got it in relatively convincing fashion. The Colts took a 10-0 lead, and never trailed. They got the early lead, 7-0, on this 26-yard touchdown run by second-year running back Edgerrin James, who went on to lead the NFL in rushing yards a second consecutive season.
October 22, 2000
Colts 30, Patriots 23
The Colts, after losing to New England earlier in the season, struggled early, but made up for it late at the RCA Dome. The Patriots took a 16-7 lead early in the second half, but the Colts rallied to scored 23 of the next 30 points for the victory. The Colts' first second-half touchdown came on this 78-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Marvin Harrison, their second combination for a touchdown of the afternoon.
October 29, 2000
Colts 30, Lions 18
The Colts won for a second consecutive week in the RCA Dome and for a second consecutive week, they needed a big play late. This time, they had squandered a 23-0 lead, allowing the Lions to cut the deficit to 23-18 with two minutes remaining. Two plays after cornerback David Macklin intercepted Lions quarterback Charlie Batch, Colts running back Edgerrin James scored on this 24-yard touchdown run to give the Colts the clinching points in a 12-point victory.
Record: 6 - 10
The Colts would get off to a 2-0 start, but
problems quickly arose, as the Defensive struggles continued during a
3-game losing streak. The Colts losing streak would end with a win
over the Chiefs in Kansas City. However, the win would prove costly
as Edgerrin James suffered a season ending knee injury. Without James
the Colts would win only 3 of their final 9 games as team were able
to score at will at the porous Colts defense, which ranked at the
bottom in yards, and points allowed. Peyton Manning had another
strong season passing for 4,131 yards. However he struggled with
interceptions leading to harsh public criticism form Coach Jim Mora.
The Colts would go on to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record.
Following the season Mora would be fired after refusing to fire his
defensive assistants. The Colts would go on to name defensive minded
Tony Dungy as their new Head Coach, hoping with a stellar offense
already intact he could make the Colts a complete team.
For the first time in three years, the Indianapolis Colts have their top draft pick in the fold on the opening day of training camp after signing wide receiver Reggie Wayne, former Miami receiver, who set school records for career receptions and consecutive games with a catch. As a senior, he caught 43 passes for 755 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Unlike 1999 top pick Edgerrin James and 2000 first-rounder Rob Morris, Wayne did not hold out for a contract. He will join the team Friday, when camp opens at Rose-Hulman Institute.
Colts released veteran linebacker Cornelius Bennett, who signed as a free agent by the Colts on March 1, 1999. Bennett, 35, was the oldest member of a defense that ranked 25th in the league last season. A 14-year veteran, Bennett had 50 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks while playing in all 16 games at outside linebacker last season.
A week after accepting a one-year tender as a designated frachise player, tight end Marcus Pollard has signed a five-year contract with the Colts. Since he was designated as a franchise player, Pollard was required to receive the top five average salaries at his position, which for tight ends was $2.017 million.
The Colts would get the season off to a 2-0 start,
Dominick Rhodes was a great spark but not enough to overcome a
Manning had another strong season passing for 4,131 yards.
The Colts would go on to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record.
Following the season Mora would be fired after refusing to fire his
Along with the termination of Mora was defensive coordinator Vic Fangio
September 9, 2001
Colts 45, Jets 24
The Colts won a wild season opener, and Colts running back Edgerrin James throughout showed his form from the previous two seasons, when he finished each season as the NFL's rushing leader. James finished the opener with 28 carries for 135 yards, including this 29-yard run in the second quarter that gave the Colts a 10-7 lead.
A Record Return
The Colts led throughout most of the first three quarters, but despite a huge game offensively, the outcome was far from decided as the clock ticked toward five minutes remaining. The Jets trailed 38-24 and faced 4th-and-1 on the Colts 2 with 5:40 remaining. On the play, Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde fumbled and Colts defensive end Chukie Nwokorie picked the ball out of the air, returning it 95 yards for game-clinching touchdown that set a team record for longest fumble return.
September 23, 2001
Colts 42, Bills 26
No team in the NFL scored points as quickly as the Colts early in the 2001 season, and that quick-strike ability was evident in the home opener against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills and Colts were tied 14-14 early in the second quarter, and the Colts faced 1st-and-10 at the Bills 39. On this play, quarterback Peyton Manning faked twice, then found wide receiver Marvin Harrison open deep for a 39-yard touchdown.
Going Deep, Part II
Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison, on his way to his third consecutive 100-reception, Pro Bowl season, had one of his biggest days of the season against the Bills. A little more than two minutes after his first touchdown of the game, the Colts regained possession and after one play, faced 2nd-and-8 at the Bills 39. Again, Manning found Harrison - this time down the middle - for a 39-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a two-touchdown lead.
September 30, 2001
Patriots 44, Colts 13
The winless Patriots surprised the unbeaten Colts with a big victory in Foxboro, Mass., but late in the game came the first of many big plays for the season for Colts tight end Marcus Pollard. A seven-year veteran who had his biggest season in 2001, Pollard caught this 17-yard touchdown from quarterback Peyton Manning with 8:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
October 14, 2001
Raiders 23, Colts 18
Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison caught 109 passes for 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2002, but this three-yard touchdown showed why he's one of the best in the NFL. Working deep in the red zone, Harrison got behind his defender, made a difficult catch, then got both feet down in bounds quickly to pull the Colts to within 13-9 late in the second quarter at the RCA Dome.
October 21, 2001
Patriots 38, Colts 17
The Patriots struck quickly and often at the RCA Dome, but early in the third quarter, the Colts showed signs of a comeback. Trailing 28-6, quarterback Peyton Manning drove the Colts 68 yards in 10 plays. Running back Edgerrin James rushed for 35 yards on the drive, which Manning capped with this two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison with 9:20 remaining. A two-point pass from Manning to tight end Ken Dilger made it 28-14.
October 25, 2001
Colts 35, Chiefs 28
The Colts traveled to Arrowhead Stadium for a Thursday night game, and despite playing well throughout the first half led just 10-6 midway through the third quarter. After a Chiefs field goal, rookie running back Dominic Rhodes - an undrafted free agent - took the kickoff at the Colts 12 and returned it 88 yards for this touchdown that gave the Colts a 17-6 lead.
Rhodes Breaks Out
The Colts led throughout the second half, but with just under two minutes remaining the Chiefs were very much in the game, trailing 28-21. Colts running back Edgerrin James was out with a knee injury, making undrafted rookie free agent Dominic Rhodes the Colts' feature back. On this play, the Colts' fourth after James' injury, Rhodes broke over right tackle for a 77-yard touchdown run that clinched the victory.
November 11 , 2001
Dolphins 27, Colts 24
The Colts lost a heartbreaker to the Dolphins at the RCA Dome, but not before Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison turned in one of his best performances of a Pro Bowl season. Harrison and quarterback Peyton Manning kept the Colts close throughout, connecting on three touchdown passes. This 40-yarder in the third quarter gave the Colts their final lead, 24-17.
November 18, 2001
Saints 34, Colts 20
Colts tight end Marcus Pollard emerged as a big-play weapon in the offense in 2001 with a rare combination of size and speed. He caught 47 passes for 739 yards and eight touchdowns, but his most electrifying play came in this loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Louisiana Superdome. On the game's first play, Pollard got free in the middle of the field and caught this 86-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning.
November 25, 2001
49ers 40, Colts 21
The Colts were in the middle of a difficult five-game stretch against playoff-bound teams, and the 49ers were bound for a return to the playoffs. Still, early on in this late November game in the RCA Dome, the Colts were effective, particularly wide receiver Marvin Harrison and quarterback Peyton Manning. On the first play after the two-minute warning, Manning found Harrison for this 15-yard touchdown to give the Colts a 14-10 lead.
December 2, 2001
Ravens 39, Colts 27
The Ravens were the defending Super Bowl championw with one of the best defenses in NFL history, but in PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, the Colts showed why they were one of the NFL's most potent offenses in 2001. Midway through the third quarter, the Colts trailed the playoff-bound Ravens 19-13 before quarterback Peyton Manning found tight end Marcus Pollard for a completion in the middle of the field. Pollard turned the play into a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give the Colts a 20-19 lead.
One of the reasons Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison was one of the NFL's best receivers from 1999-2001 was an uncanny knack for getting open - not only in the middle of the field, but deep for big plays. Such was the case late in the third quarter against the Ravens when Harrison beat his defender deep down the sideline for this 57-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Peyton Manning. The play gave the Colts a 27-26 lead at the end of the third quarter.
December 16, 2001
Colts 41, Falcons 27
As the season continued, rookie running back Dominic Rhodes emerged as one of the themes. Signed as a free agent after the April 2001 NFL Draft, Rhodes replaced injured starter Edgerrin James admirably. He rushed for a season-high 177 yards on 29 carries in the Colts' victory over the Falcons, setting the tone with this 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that gave the Colts an early 7-0 lead.
December 23, 2001
Jets 29, Colts 28
Rhodes seemed to gain strength as the season continued. He rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the team's final four games, including 126 yards on 17 carries - a 7.4-yards-per-carry average - in the Colts' last-second loss to the New York Jets in the RCA Dome. His longest run during that four-game stretch was this 46-yard touchdown for the Colts' first touchdown, pulling them to within 10-7 early in the second quarter.
December 30, 2001
Rams 42, Colts 17
The Rams were bound for a second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons, and this game was a match-up of the NFL's two most productive offenses. The Colts matched the Rams early. After the Rams took a 7-0 lead on the game's first drive, the Colts responded with 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive on their first possession. The drive ended with this 1-yard run by running back Dominic Rhodes.
Record: 10 - 6
The Tony Dungy era in Indianapolis would get off
to a solid start as the Colts won 3 of their first 4 games. The Colts
would then lose 3 straight and stood at the halfway with a mediocre
4-4 record. However they would quickly rebound with a 4 game winning
streak that included a dramatic primetime win in on the road in the
snow against the Denver Broncos with PK Mike Vanderjagt hitting a
54-yard FG with time winding down in regulation and a 51-yarders in
overtime as the Colts beat the Broncos 23-20. The Colts would end up
splitting their final 4 games to finish 2nd place in the newly
created AFC South, with a solid record of 10-6, which was good enough
for a Wild Card berth. Along the way WR Marvin Harrison set a NFL
single season record with 143 receptions for 1,722 yards.
However, the Colts playoffs appearance would be short and forgettable
as they were mauled on the road by the New York Jets 41-0.
Indianapolis also placed the franchise designation on left tackle
Tarik Glenn and made a contract offer to starting center Jeff
Saturday, a restricted free agent, according to Saturday's agent
In March, Colts signd free agent WR Qadry Ismail, veteran receiver
from The Baltimore Ravens.
The Tony Dungy era in Indianapolis would get off to a solid start as
the Colts won 3 of their first 4 games.
The Colts would end up splitting their final 4 games to finish 2nd
place in the newly created AFC South, with a solid record of 10-6,
earning a wild-card slot in the playoffs.
The Colts who ranked at or near the bottom in almost every defensive category in 2001 took on a new appearance in 2002.
Along the way WR Marvin
Harrison set a NFL single season record with 143
receptions for 1,722 yards.
Dec. 29, 2002 Colts get to playoffs with win over Jaguars
In its first draft under defensive-minded coach Tony Dungy, Indianapolis used its top pick on Freeney, who led the nation with 17 1/2 sacks in his final season at Syracuse.
A bit undersized at 6 feet and 266 pounds, Freeney was a consensus All-America and finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski awards. He finished his college career with 34 sacks.
The Colts playoffs appearance would be short and forgettable as they were mauled on the road by the New York Jets 41-0.
Throughout the season events on the field were shadowed by events off
even as Irsay reopened financial negotiations with the city of
Indianapolis fans wondered,
Rumors: Will the Colts stay in Indianapolis?
The 56,127-seat RCA Dome (reconfigured from its original capacity of about 60,000) includes 104 suites and 4,228 club seats. Such premium tickets are a major source of revenue for teams, along with money from stadium advertising and parking. Colts officials say they bring in less than many other teams, but a new and bigger stadium would not necessarily solve the problem. Irsay and other Colts officials have said they don't believe there is a demand for more suites, and season ticket sales have dropped from a high of 57,000 when the team arrived to 39,000 in 2002.
If the city were to build a new stadium, one likely location would be on a 25-acre section of land just south of the RCA Dome. In a story published Sept. 23, The Star reported that the Capital Improvement Board had quietly spent $7.6 million of public money to acquire almost 18 acres of land south of the dome since 1991.
January 6, 2002
Colts 29, Broncos 10
The season finale was a day on which nearly everything broke right for the Colts. That was true from the beginning and it was true early in the fourth quarter with the Colts leading 22-10 but needing one more touchdown to clinch a victory. They got it on the first play of the quarter, with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning finding wide receiver Marvin Harrison for a 43-yard touchdown and a 29-10 lead.
September 8, 2002
Colts 28, Jaguars 25
The defense was to become a big story for the Colts in 2002, but another story - Peyton Manning throwing to Marvin Harrison - was just as big and more familiar. Early in the fourth quarter, the combination broke open a close game and gave the Colts an 11-point lead with Manning throwing three yards to Harrison for Harrison's first touchdown of the season. Indianapolis then held off a late rally for the victory.
Off On the Right Foot
The season opener in Jacksonville marked a new era for the Colts - the Tony Dungy era. Dungy, in his first season as the Colts' head coach, brought with him an aggressive, attacking style of defense with an emphasis on creating turnovers and big plays. In a victory over AFC South rival Jacksonville, the Colts' defense scored a touchdown in its first game in the new system, with third-year linebacker Marcus Washington intercepting this pass late in the first half and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown.
September 22, 2002
Colts 23, Texans 3
Reggie Wayne, the Colts' first-round choice in the 2001 NFL Draft, suffered through an injury plagued rookie season, but in his second season he improved steadily, catching 49 passes for 716 yards and four touchdowns. His first big play of the season came in the Colts' second victory of the season - a closer-than-the-score indicated victory over the expansion Houston Texans in Houston. With the Colts leading 13-3 with 4:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, Manning passed to Wayne, who caught the pass after it was deflected by a defender and turned it into this 43-yard, game-clinching touchdown.
October 6, 2002
Colts running back Edgerrin James, the NFL's leading rusher in 1999 and 2000, missed more than half of the 2001 season with a knee injury. Although he gained more than 100 yards in a Week 2 loss to Miami, through three games, James hadn't scored a touchdown during his comeback season. That changed in the fourth quarter of the Colts' victory over winless Cincinnati in Indianapolis. This three-yard run gave the Colts a 28-14 lead six seconds into the fourth quarter and the Colts held off a late rally.
October 13, 2002
Colts 22, Ravens 20
The Colts were 3-1 entering a home game against the Ravens, but late in the fourth quarter they trailed 20-19 and their hold on the AFC South lead was in jeopardy. Six plays after Ismail drew the interference penalty from Baxter, the Colts had driven to the Ravens 20 - largely because of a 15-yard pass from Manning to Harrison on 2nd-and-15 from the Ravens 42. With nine seconds remaining, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt made this 38-yard field goal to give the Colts their fourth victory of the season.
Drawing the Laundry
One of the Colts' biggest free-agent signings in the 2002 off-season was wide receiver Qadry Ismail, a two-time 1,000-yard receiver with the Baltimore Ravens. Late in the fourth quarter of a game in Indianapolis, the Colts trailed Ismail's former team, 20-19, and faced 4th-and-10 from the Indianapolis 36. Manning's pass to Ismail was incomplete, but Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter was called for interference on the play. The Colts drove 22 more yards in the final minute for the game-winning field goal.
October 27, 2002A Near Comeback
Redskins 26, Colts 21
A three-game losing streak in late October and early November put the Colts into what would be a two-month battle with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South lead. The loss to the Redskins was the second loss of that stretch, but the Redskins' game also featured one of the Colts' biggest comebacks of the season. After falling behind 20-0 in the first half, the Colts cut the lead to 20-7 late in the first half then pulled to within 23-15 on a touchdown run by Edgerrin James. With 6:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Colts made the game even closer, with this 20-yard pass from Manning to rookie running back Ricky Williams setting the stage for a possible comeback.
November 10, 2002
Colts 35, Eagles 13
The Eagles game was more than just one of the Colts' biggest victories of the season. It was a big game personally for Harrison, who grew up in Philadelphia and spends much of his time there each off-season. Harrison caught six passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns against his hometown team, the biggest of which was this 57-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Attack, Attack, Attack
Colts 35, Eagles 13 Against the Eagles, nearly everything went right for the Colts - and Indianapolis rarely stopped going for big plays. The result of that strategy was a huge game for Manning against the blitzing Eagles defense. One of the biggest plays came early in the third quarter, with the Eagles still holding realistic thoughts of a comeback. On 1st-and-10 from the Eagles 27, Manning threw this 27-yard touchdown to Wayne to give the Colts a 21-6 lead with 10:22 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles never got closer.
Rookie Runs Wild
The Colts entered an early November game at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on a three-game losing streak and tied for first place in the AFC South at 4-4. Indianapolis also entered the game without James, who was out with an injury, and without backup Williams, who had played in the fourth quarter the week before against Washington. In the first quarter, however, the Colts established a solid running game, with the big play of a big Indianapolis quarter this 49-yard run by rookie James Mungro. The play set up a touchdown that gave Indianapolis an early 7-3 lead.
Freeney Breaks Out
The victory over the Eagles was about more than offense. A lot more. Rookie defensive end Dwight Freeney, the team's first-round draft choice, did not start in any of the team's first eight games, but against Philadelphia - and against his former college teammate, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb - he got his first start. The ex-Syracuse University star responded with a sack and three forced fumbles, including this forced fumble on McNabb that stopped an Eagles scoring threat.
November 17, 2002
Colts 20, Cowboys 3
The Dallas Cowboys were heavy underdogs entering Indianapolis in mid-November, but a tough, scrappy defense kept them close deep into the fourth quarter. With just over 10 minutes remaining, the Colts clung to a 6-3 lead and started a drive on their own 20. Twelve plays later, this 31-yard pass from Manning to Harrison gave the Colts a 13-3 lead. On the next series, Freeney forced a fumble that led to a 1-yard, game-clinching touchdown pass from Manning to Harrison with 2:24 remaining.
November 24, 2002
Colts 23, Broncos 20 (OT)
On the Broncos' drive immediately following Mungro's touchdown run, the Colts needed a big play from the defense to maintain momentum. They got it when Broncos quarterback Steve Beuerlein threw to his left and Colts linebacker Mike Peterson intercepted on the first play after kickoff. Peterson returned the interception 53 yards to the Broncos' 19 and three plays later, James' 2-yard run gave the Colts a 17-13 lead.
Clutch Kick II
No player in NFL history ever had tied a game in the final 10 seconds with a field goal of more than 50 yards then won the game in overtime with another kick of more than 50 yards. The Colts won the toss in overtime and used 10 plays to drive 35 yards to the Broncos 33. Facing 4th-and-5, Dungy initially decided to punt but changed his mind and opted to allow Vanderjagt to try a 51-yard field goal. When Vanderjagt converted the attempt, he made NFL history and the Colts had their most dramatic victory of the season.
The Colts trailed 13-3 in the third quarter at Denver. Snow was falling and another score for the Broncos could put the game out of reach. Starting from their 20, the Colts used 16 plays and just over nine minutes to drive 80 yards for a 1-yard touchdown by Mungro that cut Denver's lead to three. The key play in the drive: this 21-yard pass from Manning to Harrison on 3rd-and-10 from the Broncos 43.
The Colts played the Broncos tough throughout during a Sunday night game, but still needed a late drive to get within field-goal range late in the fourth quarter. Starting from their 20 with 1:40 remaining, the Colts drove 44 yards in 11 plays, with a key play being Manning's 16-yard completion to Ismail on 4th-and-5 from the Denver 48. With eight seconds remaining, Vanderjagt's 54-yard field goal sent the game into overtime.
December 1, 2002
Colts 19, Texans 3
The expansion Texans played the Colts tough twice in 2002, and in the second meeting - a Colts victory at the RCA Dome - Indianapolis managed just one touchdown. That touchdown was enough for the Colts to open a lead they never relinquished. Leading 3-0, the Colts recovered a muffed kickoff at the Texans 16. On the next play, Manning passed 16 yards to tight end Marcus Pollard for this touchdown that gave Indianapolis a 10-0 lead.
December 15, 2002
Colts 28, Browns 23
The Colts, after cutting the lead to two late in the third quarter, fought throughout the fourth quarter to take the lead against the playoff-contending Browns. After pulling to within 16-14, the Colts allowed a 66-yard touchdown drive and the Browns led by nine again. Early in the fourth quarter, Harrison caught a second touchdown pass, which set up the Colts' ensuing drive. Taking possession at their 14, the Colts drove 86 yards in six plays, taking the lead on this three-yard touchdown run by Mungro.
The Colts, needing a victory to solidify their playoff chances, fell behind in Cleveland 16-0 at halftime. They pulled to within nine points on their first drive of the second half, then established their momentum further on their third drive of the third quarter, a six-play, 48-yarder that culminated with this 25-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Harrison. The play pulled Indianapolis to within two, 16-14.
Clinching in Cleveland
As might be expected from two teams fighting for a playoff spot, the Colts-Browns game came down to the final play of a last-minute drive. Quarterback Tim Couch drove the Browns from their 48 to the Colts 5, where Cleveland faced 4th-and-5 with 37 seconds remaining. On the play, Couch passed to wide receiver Andre Davis, but the ball caromed off his hands to secure the Colts' dramatic victory.
December 29, 2002
Colts 20, Jaguars 13
The Colts qualified for the playoffs the day before their regular-season finale when the Oakland Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts, however, had motivation for a home game against Jacksonville: reach 10 victories and establish momentum for the playoffs. The Jaguars played the Colts tough throughout and the Colts tied it 13-13 with a 27-yard field goal by Vanderjagt with 5:46 remaining. On the ensuing series, Manning gave the Colts their winning points with this 11-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to Pollard with 2:26 remaining.
Colts released WR Quadry Ismail and terminated the contract of James Cannida
The Colts resigned long snapper Justin Snow to a 4 year extension and wr/kick returner Troy Walters to a 2 year extension.
The beginning of March, Colts address defense, with signing of Montae
Reagor with a six year contract worth 18.3 million dollars. Reagor, a
six foot 3, 285 pound defensive tackle, played his first four years
with the Denver Broncos. Reagor has collected 54 tackles and four
sacks in 45 career games.
The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent wide receiver Brandon
Stokley to a two-year, $2.9 million contract.
After their horrific thud in the playoffs the experts doubted the big game ability of Colts QB Peyton Manning.
The Indianapolis Colts preceded everyone's expectations in 2003.
Mike Vanderjagt broke the NFL record for the most consecutive field goals made ( 41 for 41 )
Despite playing shaky football in their first game the Colts began the season with a 9-6 road win over the Cleveland Browns, as they won their first 4 games.
In Week Four on September 28, performing at the site where his father, Archie, starred, Peyton Manning became the first quarterback in 12 years to throw six touchdown passes in a game as the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts rolled to a 55-21 rout of the New Orleans.
Week 5 would be an emotional home coming for Coach Tony Dungy as the
Colts faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday Night Road Game.
A week later the Colts would stumble at home blowing a 4th Quarter lead in an overtime 23-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
In week 10 The Colts survive a shootout with the Jets, winning 38-31
After winning 4 of their next 5 games the Colts found themselves in a
match up of AFC elite against the New England Patriots at home.
Trailing 17-0 early the Colts fought all through the game to tie the
game at 31 early in the 4th Quarter.
The defense kept the Titans scoreless for the last three
quarters and late in the game cornerback Nick Harper had his third
interception of the season, this one returned for a touchdown.
The Colts would go on to win 2 of their last 3 games to finish
the season with a solid 12-4 record,
Over the last four weeks, Brandon Stokley has gradually worked his way into becoming a reliable third and sometimes second option in the Colts' passing attack. He had seven catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-7 win over Atlanta and nine receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 road victory against Houston.
But it was Stokley's four receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-breaking 87-yard scoring catch and run in a 41-10 AFC wild-card win over Denver that really opened a lot of eyes.
"Coach always tells us that when you are on the ground you get
up until the referee blows the whistle," Harrison
said. "When I was on the ground, I didn't feel anyone touch me.
I was trying to get up slowly so I wouldn't get knocked in the head.
Then, I got up and ran."
there wasn't a single penalty called after the snap - or once the
ball was in play. Every penalty called was either a false start or
delay. This was so, even though Patriots defensive backs were doing
some, uh, mean, ugly, interesting things to Marvin
Harrison & Co.
As Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said:
Wouldn't it just figure that New England's favorite NFL ref, Walt Coleman, would be assigned to the AFC Championship game at home? I'm not suggesting bias, but it is worth pointing out that Walt has a history of blown calls that have favored the Patriots. I'd also point out that Walt has a history of botched officiating and has no business being assigned to the conference title game.
Specifically, with the Colts down 21-14 and in possession with fewer
than 3 minutes remaining, back to back Manning
passes fell incomplete due to some questionable coverage. Colts tight
Pollard was bumped/held beyond the 5-yard zone on
said of the Patriots afterward,
What's bothersome is that the officials were lenient with regards to penalties, but the prior week had no problem flagging the Titans (vs. Patriots) for a crucial late holding call that was certainly as marginal as some of the calls that were ignored in this game.
an excerpt from The JagsZone
Peyton Manning is one of my least favorite players in the NFL, but watching the game in Foxboro Sunday, even I felt for him and the Colts. Because they didnt have a chance. Im certainly not a fan of the Colts, so I think I can say this with pretty good unbiased status. In my opinion the officials just gave New England the game.
Can I ask somebody something? If the officials really are impartial, how the heaven do they keep giving games to New England? I mean, is there any justice in this world? Somebody high in the NFL has got stock or is putting their liabilities on the Patriots balance sheet or something. I mean if an opposing team had God as their quarterback in Foxboro, theyd still have to have him zap the Zebras to win the game.
Frozen Foxboro is a site of unparalleled official madness. i.e.
1982 Patriots 3 Dolphins 0 - In a Snow Bowl game when neither offense could even stand up straight, much less score, a convict snowplow man comes out and clears the field for the New England Patriots to kick the winning field goal late in the game.
2001 Patriots 16 Raiders 13 OT On a play late Tom Brady clearly fumbles, but the refs call it an incomplete forward pass. The Pats kick a late tying field goal and win it in overtime.
2003 Patriots 17 Titans 14 Pats get all the calls.
2003 Patriots 24 Colts 14 Late in the game, with the Colts behind 21-14 and possessing the ball, on a 3rd and 4th down, TE Marcus Pollard is clearly being held or there is pass interference and the zebras dont call it neither time.
If I were a team having to play New England in the playoffs, Id just call in sick, because they arent going to lose with like 17 guys to your 11.
So, for the 2nd year in 3, the Patriots are handed on a Black and White Platter a trip to the Super Bowl. And I feel for Peyton Manning.
September 25, 2005
The Patriots won 23-20
September 7, 2003
Colts 9, Browns 6
The Colts opened the 2003 season against the Cleveland Browns, a playoff team from the previous year, and like the previous season, beating Cleveland was a struggle. Unlike the previous season, when the Colts rallied from a 16-0 halftime deficit for a 28-23 victory, points were difficult to obtain in the 2003 season opener. The Colts fell behind early, took a 6-3 lead in the third quarter, then were tied, 6-6, late in the game. Quarterback Peyton Manning led an 11-play, 65-yard drive in the final 2:38 that culminated with this 45-yard game-winning field goal by kicker Mike Vanderjagt.
September 14, 2003
Colts 33, Titans 7
The Colts' first home game of the 2003 season was an important one, coming against their primary division rival, the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee swept the Colts in 2002 and won the AFC South title, but in Week 2, the Colts changed the momentum in the series. Indianapolis took an early 3-0 lead, then after falling behind 7-0, began to pull away throughout the second quarter. The Colts already led 10-7 when quarterback Peyton Manning capped a four-play, 57-yard drive with this 35-yard touchdown pass to Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
September 14, 2003
Colts 33, Titans 7
The Colts had secured a key victory over AFC South rival Tennessee with a dominant defensive performance throughout the second half in the RCA Dome. Fitting, then, that the game's final points came from the Colts' defense. After taking a 17-7 halftime lead, Indianapolis stretched the lead to 26-7 on field goals of 41, 23 and 48 yards by kicker Mike Vanderjagt in the second and third quarters. With less than a minute remaining, Colts cornerback Nick Harper intercepted and returned it 75 yards for a the game's final touchdown to give the Colts a 26-point victory.
September 21, 2003
Colts 23, Jaguars 13
The Colts were 2-0 entering their third game of the season, a home game against AFC South rival Jacksonville. But the Jaguars controlled the first half with a stingy defense and led at halftime, 3-0. The Colts took control with a 17-point third quarter, a period that included the first two touchdowns of the season for Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Wayne's 28-yard touchdown reception from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning capped a four-minute, 58-second drive to start the second half and gave Indianapolis a 7-3 lead it would not relinquish.
September 28, 2003
Colts 55, Saints 21
The Colts were 3-0 entering their second road game of the season, a Homecoming Game of sorts for Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The game was played in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Manning's hometown. He celebrated by throwing a career-high six touchdowns, including three in the first half. The first went to running back Ricky Williams, and he followed that with this 14-yarder to wide receiver Marvin Harrison for a 14-0 lead.
October 6, 2003
Colts 38, Buccaneers 35 (OT)
The Colts fell behind 21-0 at halftime and still trailed 35-14 with less than four minutes remaining before staging one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history. First, Indianapolis pulled to within 35-21 with a 3-yard run by running back James Mungro with 3:37 remaining and 1:08 later - after a successful onside kick - the Colts made it a one-touchdown game with this 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Marvin Harrison, pulling the Colts to within 35-28.
October 6, 2003
Colts 38, Buccaneers 35 (OT)
The Colts' remarkable rally forced overtime with 35 seconds remaining when running back Ricky Williams' one-yard run tied the game at 35-35. The Buccaneers got possession first in overtime, but when they failed to score, the Colts took over with just under five minutes gone in the extra period. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning led the Colts on a 15-play, 76-yard drive that ended when kicker Mike Vanderjagt made a 29-yard field goal 11:13 into the overtime. The kick made the Colts the first team in NFL history to win after trailing by 21 points with less than four minutes remaining.
October 12, 2003
Panthers 23, Colts 20 (OT)
Entering the Carolina game, the Colts were 5-0 and with a 13-3 halftime lead, they were on the verge of taking an unbeaten record into their bye week. Carolina, the eventual NFC Champions, rallied to take a 20-13 lead in the second half, but Colts quarterback Peyton Manning led a nine-play, 91-yard drive that consumed 2:23. The drive ended with this 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Reggie Wayne that sent the game into overtime, 20-20. Carolina won, 23-20, on a 47-yard field goal by kicker John Kasay.
October 26, 2003
Colts 30, Texans 21
The Colts started sluggishly after the bye week, and after taking a 3-0 lead, they fell behind 14-3 midway through the third quarter. They rallied with touchdown passes of 1 and 2 yards from quarterback Peyton Manning to tight end Marcus Pollard and wide receiver Reggie Wayne, respectively. That made it 17-14, Colts, at halftime and on the first drive of the second half, Manning and Wayne gave the Colts a 10-point lead with this 57-yard touchdown pass 57 seconds into the third quarter.
November 2, 2003
Colts 23, Dolphins 17
The Colts had lost four consecutive games to the Miami Dolphins, their former AFC East rival: a playoff game following the 2000 season, two games in 2001 and one in 2002. On this trip to South Florida, things were different. The Colts controlled the game early and led 9-7 at halftime. On the first possession of the second half, Indianapolis took further control with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that consumed 5:42. Colts running back Edgerrin James gave the Colts a nine-point lead, 16-7, with this one-yard run.
The Dolphins cut the Colts lead back to two points, 16-14, late in the third quarter at Pro Player Stadium, but the Indianapolis offense was effective throughout the game - and that was particularly true late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. The Colts drove 91 yards on 13 plays, a possession that consumed 8:18 and gave the Colts a nine-point lead when quarterback Peyton Manning passed three yards to wide receiver Troy Walters with 5:20 gone in the fourth quarter.
Another Clutch Sack
The Colts led throughout the second half, but a rare mistake by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning gave the Dolphins a late chance. Manning was intercepted deep in Colts territory by cornerback Terrell Buckley and with 2:45 remaining. Two plays later, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney registered his third sack of the game on Dolphins quarterback Brian Griese. This one forced a fumble that Colts defensive end Raheem Brock recovered to secure the Colts' seventh victory in eight games.
November 9, 2003
Jaguars 28, Colts 23
The Colts had been effective on offense through much of the season, and that stayed true early on a rainy day in Alltel Stadium. The Colts drove 52 yards on seven plays, a possession that consumed 2:31 and ended with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw this 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison in the middle of the end zone. Harrison left the game later with an injury and the Jaguars rallied, outscoring Indianapolis 21-3 in the second half.
November 16, 2003
Colts 38, Jets 31
After a road loss to Jacksonville, the Colts needed a victory over the Jets to regain their early-season momentum. The Jets, who beat the Colts, 41-0, in the playoffs the year before, took an early 7-3 lead on a 62-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Chad Pennington, but the Colts retook the lead with this 46-yard catch-and-run touchdown reception by wide receiver Troy Walters on a pass from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts led 24-10 at halftime before the Jets rallied.
The Colts moved effectively on offense throughout the victory over the Jets, but didn't clinch the victory until late. They led 24-10 at halftime, and after the Jets pulled to within 24-17, Indianapolis again pushed the lead to 14 points on a six-play, 46-yard drive that ended with this 1-yard run by running back Edgerrin James. The veteran running back finished with 127 yards and a season-high three touchdowns on 36 carries.
Hunter the Runner
The teams had combined for 62 points in less than three quarters when kicker Mike Vanderjagt lined up for a 31-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining in the third period. Punter Hunter Smith took the snap from Justin Snow and instead of placing the ball for Vanderjagt, he picked it up and raced untouched through the left side of the Jets' defense for a 21-yard touchdown, the first of his career. The play gave the Colts a 38-31 lead and neither team scored again.
November 23, 2003
Colts 17, Bills 14
The Colts' offense struggled throughout the first three quarters in Orchard Park, N.Y., and early in the fourth quarter, Bills running back Sammy Morris scored on a 7-yard run to give Buffalo a 14-3 lead. Colts running back Edgerrin James, who rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, pulled Indianapolis to within four, 14-10, with a 14-yard run with 11:40 remaining and on the next possession, he capped a 16-play, 83-yard drive with this one-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-goal with 1:38 remaining.
With the offense struggling, the defense played one of its best games of the season - and fittingly, it was the defense that made a big, game-clinching play later. The Bills took possession with less than 1:30 remaining needing a field goal to tie, but early in the possession, Colts linebacker David Thornton intercepted quarterback Drew Bledsoe to clinch the victory.
November 30, 2003
Patriots 38, Colts 34
The showdown of AFC division leaders began with the Patriots taking a 17-0 lead that the Colts spent the rest of the first half trying to reduce. They made progress with a 40-yard field goal by kicker Mike Vanderjagt, then late in the first half they showed more signs of a comeback when quarterback Peyton Manning looked off several receivers before he found tight end Marcus Pollard on the left side of the field. Pollard turned the play into this 8-yard touchdown that cut the Patriots' lead to a touchdown.
On a Roll
The Colts' first-half rally was short-lived. First, they allowed the Patriots a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, then New England opened the second half with a 1-yard run by running back Mike Cloud for a touchdown. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning cut the lead to 14 with a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Reggie Wayne, then further cut into the lead with this 26-yard touchdown to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. That made it 31-24, Patriots.
Touchdown for Troy
The Colts still trailed the East-leading Patriots by a touchdown entering the fourth quarter, but Indianapolis had momentum and the home-field crowd on their side. Early in the final period, the Colts drove 69 yards in nine plays, a possession that ended when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning passed six yards for this touchdown to wide receiver Troy Walters. The Patriots retook the lead on their next possession and the Colts pulled to within four, but lost when running back Edgerrin James was stopped at the 1-yard line in the final 10 seconds.
December 7, 2003
Colts 29, Titans 27
The Colts traveled to Tennessee early in December for a game with major stakes: a season sweep of their AFC South rival, the Titans, and a solid hold on first place in the AFC South. Early in the game, the Colts began to gather momentum, scoring on four first-half field goals by kicker Mike Vanderjagt and in the second half, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw deep to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver made one of the most memorable plays of the 2003 season with this one-handed, diving, twisting reception that set up a lead-securing touchdown.
Back on the Grind
Throughout the 2003 season, one of the Colts' storylines was the return to health of running back Edgerrin James. The two-time NFL rushing champion (1999 and 2000) had missed half of the 2001 season with a knee injury, then rushed for 989 yards in 2002. James was on his way to a plus-1,200-yard season in 2003. This short touchdown run against Tennessee pushed the Colts' lead to 29-13 in the fourth quarter.
Securing the Sweep
The Colts led throughout the second half of a key division showdown against Tennessee, but the Titans rallied late, with quarterback Steve McNair leading a dramatic comeback. McNair's second touchdown pass of the quarter - a two-yarder to wide receiver Derrick Mason - pulled the Titans to within two points, but the ensuing two-point conversion pass failed. The Titans held the Colts on the next series, but returner Justin McCaerins fumbled this punt by Colts punter Hunter Smith in the final minute and safety Anthony Floyd recovered to secure the Colts' victory.
December 14, 2003
Colts 38, Falcons 7
The Colts had played two playoff-contending teams on back-to-back weeks - New England and Tennessee - but they quickly showed there would be no letdown in the RCA Dome against the Atlanta Falcons. After forcing a Falcons turnover, the Colts took possession at the Atlanta 14. On the ensuing play, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw the first of his five touchdown passes for the game - a 14-yarder to third-year wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
One More for Marv
With a second consecutive playoff appearance looming, the Colts led 17-0 in the second quarter, but needed more points to end the Falcons' chances of a comeback. The Atlanta hopes all but ended late in the second quarter, when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 17-yarder to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Manning finished completing 25 of 30 passes for 290 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Harrison, who also caught a touchdown pass in the second half, finished with seven receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley signed with the Colts as free agent in the off-season before the 2003 season, but for the first 13 games, he mostly fought frustrating injuries. He began to get healthy in December and by mid-month, a bothersome foot injury had healed completely. Against the Falcons, he showed the first signs of what he would come to mean to one of the NFL's best offenses, catching two touchdown passes - a four-yarder in the first quarter and this 37-yarder from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in the third that made it 31-0, Colts.
December 21, 2003
Broncos 31, Colts 17
Indianapolis entered a Sunday night, prime-time game against the Denver Broncos with a chance to clinch the AFC South and enhance their position in the post-season. Instead, the playoff-contending Broncos dominated, taking a 28-17 lead at halftime and shutting out Indianapolis in the second half. The game didn't start that way, though. On the Broncos' first possession, rookie linebacker Gary Brackett intercepted this pass from Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and returned it 31 yards for a 7-0 Indianapolis lead.
December 28, 2003
Colts 20, Texans 17
The Colts traveled to Houston, Texas, for the season finale needing a victory to clinch their first AFC South title - and their first division title since 1999. The first three quarters hardly could have gone worse for the Colts, who scored only a field goal in the first 45 minutes. They trailed 17-3 entering the fourth quarter, and cut the lead to a touchdown with a six-yard run by Colts running back Edgerrin James on the first play of the period. With 3:50 remaining, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning followed an interception by cornerback Donald Strickland with this 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. After a conversion by kicker Mike Vanderjagt, the game was tied, 17-17.
December 28, 2003
Colts 20, Texans 17 The Colts' already-dramatic rally was getting more heart-stopping. After trailing 17-3 entering the fourth quarter and rallying for two touchdowns, the Colts stopped the Texans and got possession deep in their territory with 2:40 remaining. Quarterback Peyton Manning led a 12-play, 65-yard drive that took the Colts to the Texans 26 in time for the game's final play. Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt converted the 43-yard field goal, a kick that gave Vanderjagt the NFL record for consecutive field goals with 41 and gave Indianapolis the AFC South title.
January 4, 2004
Colts 41, Broncos 10
Indianapolis entered the playoffs as the AFC South champion, but they had lost to the Broncos two weeks before in the RCA Dome. In the first round of the playoffs, Denver returned to Indianapolis, but with drastically different results. Indianapolis dominated the Broncos from the start of the game and led, 7-3, late in the first quarter when the Colts took possession at their 19. The Colts drove past midfield, then scored when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw to wide receiver Marvin Harrison over the middle. Harrison made a diving reception, then ran the final 30 yards after the Broncos did not touch him while he was on the ground.
A Lethal Option
The outcome was all but decided late in the second quarter with Indianapolis leading, 21-3, and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning already had three touchdown passes. If it wasn't over already, the Colts made sure of it when they took possession at their 13 around the two-minute warning. Manning ran a play-action fake, then threw deep to wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who caught the pass behind the Denver defense and turned the play into an 87-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
January 11, 2004
Colts 38, Chiefs 31
The Colts went the entire game in the first round of the playoffs against Denver without punting, but could they do it again? The Divisional Playoff was against the AFC West champions, the Kansas City, and the Colts started as they had the previous week - scoring on their first possession. This time, the first drive ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. The play gave Indianapolis a 7-0 lead.
An Extra Edge
Colts 38, Chiefs 31 Colts running back Edgerrin James ran stronger as the season grew later, and that trend continued in the playoffs. Two weeks before, James - the 1999 and 2000 NFL rushing champion - rushed for a season-high 171 yards on 27 carries against Houston. And against Kansas City, James was almost equally effective. He rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Late in the first quarter, James scored on this 11-yard run to give the Colts a 14-3 lead. They maintained that lead into halftime, when they held an 11-point lead, 21-10.
The teams battled through a tense, offensive-oriented game, with neither team forcing the other to punt. The Colts took a 31-17 only to have Chiefs returner Dante Hall return a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to make it, 31-24, Kansas City. The Colts then extended the lead to 14 points again with Colts running back Edgerrin James rushing for a 1-yard touchdown with 11:14 remaining in the game. The Chiefs cut the lead to seven points again, but could get no closer and the Colts advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since the 1995 season.
January 18, 2004
Patriots 24, Colts 14
The Colts, playing in their first AFC Championship Game in eight seasons, fell behind 15-0 at halftime, but worked their way back into comeback range with 12-play, 52-yard drive early through the third quarter. Colts running back Edgerrin James scored on a 2-yard run with 9:44 remaining and the Colts trailed, 15-7. James finished with 78 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Too Little, Too Late
The Colts trailed throughout the AFC Championship Game and after they pulled to within eight, 15-7, they allowed the Patriots two field goals and trailed by 14 points when the fourth quarter began. Indianapolis then drove 67 yards on 13 plays to pull to within seven, 21-14, when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning passed for this 7-yard touchdown pass with 2:27 remaining. The Colts got possession once more with a chance to tie, but turned the ball over on downs deep in their territory. Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri secured the victory with a 34-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining.
The Colts began the season in the same place where their previous
season ended, Foxboro with a Thursday Night kickoff against the New
England Patriots. Once again the Pats would frustrate Manning as the
Colts lost 27-24, as a game tying drive was short-circuited by a sack
as Mike Vanderjagt's attempt of a game tying FG went wide. However,
there would not be much frustration the rest of the way for Manning
and the Colts as he embarked on a record season passing for 49
Touchdowns breaking Dan Marino's 20-year old record as the Colts
galloped to a second straight division title with a solid 12-4
record, as each week it seemed a different receiver would benefit
from the dazzling play of Peyton Manning who would earn him second
straight NFL MVP award. After ending the regular season a meaningless
loss to the Denver Broncos in the final game of the regular season
with Manning and the rest of the regular sitting, the Colts faced the
Broncos in the playoffs and it was a different story as the Colts
behind the arm of Manning jumped out to a 35-3 halftime lead on the
way to beating the Broncos 49-24 as Manning had 4 TD passes and 457
yards passing, to earn a rematch with the Patriots in Foxboro. As the
Divisional Playoff in Foxboro began the snow began to fall and it was
if a harbinger of things to come as the Colts never left the starting
gate as the Pats playing with a banged up secondary frustrated Peyton
Manning again, not allowing the Colts to reach the endzone in a
dominating 20-3 victory.
The cornerstone of the Indianapolis Colts and the league's co-MVP Peyton
Manning had just signed on a seven-year, $98 million
contract that includes a landmark $34.5 million signing bonus that
provides the team some badly needed salary cap relief.
Brandon Stokley's contract was restructured in February by lowering his 2004 base pay to $535,000 and giving him a signing bonus of $970,600.
September 15, 2004
The Indianapolis Colts have signed cornerback Deandre Eiland to the practice squad and waived wide receiver John Standeford.
Eiland, a 5-11, 202-pound rookie was a sixth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in April.
There is a D in Indy
Dwight Freeney has 25 career sacks
Despite his reaction, Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair made it clear Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is no laughing matter.
"Freeney's a guy that's going to create mad havoc," McNair said during a Wednesday conference call, his voice giving way to laughter. "He disrupts everything . . . because of his speed and his size and his motor.
"The guy never stops."
October 14, 2004
Former NAU QB Brown joins Indianapolis practice squad
Former Northern Arizona quarterback Travis Brown Wednesday was signed to the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad.
Brown, who was inducted into the Lumberjacks' Athletics Hall of Fame in September, last played for the Buffalo Bills
Stokley and Reggie Wayne emerging as options for Peyton
Manning, defenses are left with a confounding choice.
Wayne, a first-round pick in 2001, has become a threat to any defense that focuses too much on Harrison, the NFL's most consistent receiver. In three weeks, Wayne has produced two 100-yard games and trails the St. Louis Rams' Isaac Bruce (348) and Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward (346) in yards receiving. Wayne has 345.
If there were questions about Wayne's talent, he answered them September 26 in a victory against the Green Bay Packers.
While the Packers focused on Harrison, Wayne broke free with 11 receptions for 184 yards, both career highs, and one touchdown. He missed a second touchdown when Manning overthrew him after he'd beaten the Packers secondary again.
Stokley has added a critical over-the-middle presence and doubles as a big-play threat.
After missing most of the first 13 games last year because of a foot injury and concussion, Stokley has nine TD catches in the Colts' last nine games, counting the playoffs.
Against The Packers when Harrison was limited to five catches for 65 yards and one touchdown, Stokley hauled in eight passes for 110 yards and two TDs.
Since relocating to Indianapolis in 1983, the Colts will play on Thanksgiving for the first time when they meet Detroit in an interconference game.
Harrison signs $67 million deal with Colts
The most lethal passing combination in the NFL is now the league's highest paid tandem. The Indianapolis Colts and wide receiver Marvin Harrison have finalized a seven-year contract extension worth $67 million. The deal includes $23 million in guaranteed money.
Every week, the Indianapolis Colts' offense uses the football field as its canvas, and every week, it creates an art form that is distinct from everything else in the copycat NFL.
Marvin Harrison has caught a dozen of Manning's club-record 44 touchdown passes and Reggie Wayne has caught 10. Brandon Stokley's next touchdown will be his 10th, which will make the Colts the first team in league history to have three players with at least 10 receiving touchdowns in the same season.
Harrison already has extended his NFL record to six consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions. He is three shy of equaling his single-season high. Wayne and Stokley already have established personal single-season bests.
Manning passed for 425 yards and had at least three touchdowns for the eighth straight game. Stokley finished with a career-best 153 yards while Harrison, with 106 yards, eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second straight week. Wayne fell 4 yards shy of giving the Colts three 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time in club history.
Also contributing to the offense was running back Edgerrin James, who gouged the Titans for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He has eight TDs on the season. If he and Stokley hit double figures, the Colts will be the first team in NFL history with four players scoring at least 10 touchdowns.
Colts wide receivers Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley are poised to become the first trio in NFL history to catch at least 10 touchdown passes in the same season.
The Colts rank fourth in the NFL with 36 sacks, while they have
yielded only seven, fewer
On Wednesday, December 8, Colts Acquire Martin Gramatica for Kickoff Role
Martin Gramatica, a six-year NFL veteran who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, signed with the Colts Wednesday. He will handle kickoff duties, an area the Colts have focused on improving through much of the season.
Mike Vanderjagt, the Colts kicker since 1998 and the NFLs all-time field goal accuracy leader, will continue to handle field goals and extra points, Dungy said.
The Colts released kickoff specialist Jason Baker, who had kicked off the last four games.
I called Martin after he got released, just to tell him to hang in there and know that hes going to kick somewhere in the league, Dungy said. (Colts President) Bill (Polian) approached me the other day and said, Weve already committed to the kickoff spot. Is this guy a better kickoff man than Jason Baker? I said, He probably is.
Its just a move to make your team a little bit better.
Dec. 12, 2004
Manning's 12-yard TD to Reggie Wayne in the first quarter at Houston was his second of the game and 46th of the season, two shy of tying Dan Marino's 20-year-old record for TD passes in a season.
Summary of 2004 Games
Game 1, Sept. 9, 2004:
The Colts produced one of their most impressive drives in recent memory,
Until finally, one chance remained: a final kick, a 48-yard field
goal by the most accurate kicker in NFL history, a kicker who went
all of last season without missing a field goal.
With the Colts loosing their opening game to Patriots 24-27
Game 2, Sept. 19, 2004:
Stellar second half gives Colts 31-17 comeback victory over rival Tennessee
Game 3: Sept. 26, 2004
Manning outguns Favre in 45-31 quarterback duel
It was an air war befitting the status of two of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. Peyton Manning threw five touchdowns -- all in the first half -- and Green Bay's Brett Favre came close to matching that pace, with four.
Manning passed on the Colts' first 22 consecutive offensive plays and threw touchdowns on the Colts' first four possessions -- and five of their first six. Facing an injury-ravaged Green Bay secondary that wanted to crowd the line of scrimmage and play man-to-man coverage, Manning attacked. He passed for 320 yards in the first half alone.
Manning completed 28-of-40 for 393 yards and five touchdowns.
Favre, who later said he enjoyed the duel but wished it had gone the other way, hit 30-of-44 passes for 358 yards and his 17th career four-touchdown game. Favre also threw his 4,000th career pass completion.
Although Indianapolis' premier wide receiver, Marvin Harrison, caught his 70th career touchdown pass from Manning, it was Brandon Stokley and Reggie Wayne who benefited most with 19 passes and nearly 300 yards between them.
For all the offense -- 910 yards and an average of 6.8 yards a play -- it was a big play by the Colts' much-criticized defense that turned the game.
After trailing by as much as 18, the Packers had narrowed the gap in the fourth quarter to 38-31 and were on a drive to score again. Green Bay wide receiver Javon Walker caught a Favre pass at mid-field but Colts cornerback Jason David stripped the ball from Walker's arms, forcing a fumble that the Colts then recovered.
Colts running back Edgerrin James was playing with a sore hamstring, but since the game was dominated by passing James had little to do the first half. He got a little action later in the game and scored the Colts' sixth and final touchdown to make the score 45-31.
Game 4: Oct. 3, 2004
Offensive drives and defensive stands help defeat Jacksonville
The Colts, facing an undefeated Jacksonville team that plays its best when the heat is on, demonstrated some impressive 11th hour mettle of their own, defeating the Jaguars 24-17 and claiming a share of the AFC South lead. Both teams gave maximum effort under difficult conditions with the heat and humidity taking a toll on the players.
The disappointed Jaguars faulted themselves for the defeat - not the loss of their offensive tackles to injury or some questionable calls by the officials. Jacksonville had the ball longer, had more net yards, more passing yards and much better third-down conversion success but they fumbled twice and on three trips inside the red zone had to settle for field goals while the Colts scored touchdowns.
The Colts' defensive players allowed the Jaguars to pile up 408 yards on offense, convert 8-of-15 third downs and penetrate into Indianapolis territory on all nine of their possessions - but they made the big plays when they needed to. On two defining plays, Jacksonville failed to advance on fourth-and-1. One of those stops led to an Indianapolis touchdown and the other preserved the Colts' lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Peyton Manning completed 20 of 29 passes for 220 yard and two touchdowns. However, his string of 122 passes without an interception ended when Daryl Smith picked off a tipped pass in the fourth quarter. Brandon Stokley led the team with eight receptions for 97 yards. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt pulled his right hamstring on a 46-yard field goal at the end of the first half forcing punter Hunter Smith to handle the second-half kickoffs.
Game 5: Oct. 10, 2004
Complete team effort results in a 35-14 Colts win over Oakland
Game 6: Oct. 24, 2004
Fumbles and penalties result in a 27-24 loss to the Jaguars
In a dismal, error-plagued performance against Jacksonville, Indianapolis squandered its chance to seize control of the AFC South. The Colts looked nothing like the team that, before the bye week, had meticulously won four consecutive games.
Although Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Colt receivers racked up some impressive numbers, mistakes killed any chance for a victory. After turning the ball over only three time in four earlier victories, Indianapolis fumbled twice in this game. The team also collected 12 penalties, the most in 113 games, after entering the week with a league-low 19 for the season.
From the opening possession, the Colts looked sluggish, failing to score in the first quarter for only the second time in six games, but went into the half ahead 14-10. Then came a third quarter collapse during which the Colts gained a total of 12 yards. They held on to a slim, 1-point lead going into the fourth but allowed Jacksonville to score 14 points in the final quarter - the last three coming on a 53-yard field goal with 38 seconds left. For the fourth time in the season, the Jaguars came from behind to win in the final minute of a game.
The frustration of the Colts seemed to come to a head in what appeared to be an uncharacteristic altercation on the field between Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. However, the players and team officials all dismissed the incident, captured by television cameras and rebroadcast numerous times, saying nothing happened.
Game 7: Oct. 31, 2004
Colts suffer defensive collapse as Chiefs gain 590 yards in 45-35 win
A Halloween game turned ghastly for the Colts in a 45-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the second loss in a row for Indianapolis which saw its record drop to 4-3 for the season.
Once again, it was a disastrous day for the Colts' defense which gave up:
Kansas City improved its record to 3-4 with the win. Chiefs running back Priest Holmes rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Trent Green hit 14 consecutive passes during one first-half stretch. He was 27-for-34 for 389 yards and three touchdowns. Eight of those passes went to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Behind 31-14 at halftime, the Colts abandoned the running game in the second half and tried to close the gap in the air, and for a while that worked. With Kansas City playing man-to-man on the outside, Manning worked the middle of the field. The Colts went 92 yards in three plays, then covered 76 yards in another three plays to get within 31-28.
Wide receiver Marvin Harrison caught a 22-yard touchdown pass and wide receiver Reggie Wayne had a 41-yard score.
Kansas City answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Holmes. The Colts answered that with a 6-yard Manning-to-Wayne touchdown pass. They were back within three at 38-35. The Colts still had a chance, but only if the defense could produce a stop on Kansas City's final drive. It didn't, and the Chiefs scored yet again.
Manning had one of the most prolific games of his career with 25
completions on 44 attempts and five touchdowns.
Game 8: Nov. 8, 2004
Colts remain poised in a 31-28 win over the Vikings on Monday Night Football
The pressure was heavy in the RCA Dome as the Colts, whose last-place defense was playing the first-place offense of the Minnesota Vikings, tried to put an end to a two-game losing streak before a prime-time national TV audience.
Minnesota, playing without all-pro wide receiver Randy Moss and top rusher Mewelde Moore, got off to a shaky start. The Vikings fumbled their first snap and lost 28 yards. In the first half, they managed to score only two field goals but kept the score close in the second half, tying the game three times.
In the final moments of the game, Peyton Manning coolly engineered a series of plays that included an improvised, left-handed, shovel pass to Edgerrin James that saved the drive. A 15-yard scramble by Manning, with extra yards from an unnecessary roughness penalty, put the Colts in field goal range with just six seconds left in the game. Mike Vanderjagt nailed a 35-yarder and the Colts won the game 31-28.
Manning continued to put up impressive numbers. He completed 23-of-29 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns - with no interceptions. James rushed for 123 yards and caught five passes for an additional 56 yards. Marvin Harrison, with six catches in the game, became the 11th player in NFL history to reach the 800 mark. He and Manning also broke the league record for most completions of a quarterback to a wide receiver with 664.
The Colt defense limited the Vikings to 292 total yards (139 below their average), thereby raising their season average and edging them out of last place in the league. Dwight Freeney sacked Daunte Culpepper twice and was denied a third sack on a questionable offsides call. Most importantly, in the third quarter when the offense was struggling, Colt defenders held the Vikings whose only touchdown in that quarter came when Nate Burleson returned a punt for 91 yards. In addition to that return, the Colt special teams allowed a 51-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
Indianapolis lifted its record to 5-3 at the halfway point of the season - into a tie with Jacksonville for first place in the AFC South.
Game 9: Nov. 14, 2004
Dominant performance by the Colts ends with a 49-14 rout of Houston
The Colts blew out the Houston Texans 49-14 in a boisterous, big-play game during which the defense dominated the opposition and Peyton Manning continued his assault on the record books.
Colt defenders enjoyed a full and fun-filled Sunday. In his second start of the season, first round draft choice Bob Sanders had 10 tackles and returned a fumble for his first NFL touchdown. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis terrorized Texans quarterback David Carr throughout the game. Carr suffered five sacks and three fumbles. He was also intercepted three times.
While Indianapolis averaged 8.3 yards a play, Houston netted -5 yards in the first quarter and only 64 yards in the first half. They did not score until late in the third quarter after Aaron Glenn intercepted a Manning pass.
The Texans found it offensive and disrespectful that, long after the game had been decided, the Colts kept running their offense. Houston players and television analyst Randy Cross were particularly upset that the Colts, rather than running the ball in the fourth quarter, continued to pass - a move Cross referred to as having "no class".
Manning continued his pursuit of Dan Marino's single-season touchdown record with his third five-touchdown game of the season. His passes were spread out among six players, with Brandon Stokley benefiting the most in this game with five passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas Clark also scored twice - one of them an 80-yard catch and run. In addition to Sanders' touchdown, rookie nickle back Von Hutchins scored late in the fourth when he intercepted Carr.
Game 10: Nov. 21, 2004
Colts show pass-run balance in lopsided win over Bears
The Colts dominated Chicago in a 41-10 rout so lopsided that quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and other starters sat out the fourth quarter to save their energy for a Thanksgiving Day game four days later.
After several games dominated by passing, during which James did little but serve as a decoy, Manning found a balance between air and ground offense. He passed for 211 yards and four touchdowns, while James rushed for 204 yards and one score. Had he played the whole game, James might easily have broken the NFL record of 295 rushing yards in a game (set by Baltimore's Jamal Lewis against Cleveland in 2003).
Indianapolis' 275 rushing yards were its most imposing total since 1985. James averaged 8.9 yards on 23 carries -- including runs of 35, 40 and 22 yards --and produced the second 200-yard rushing game by a single player in club history while pushing his season total to 1,081 yards.
Manning's first touchdown pass went for 14 yards to tight end Marcus Pollard. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne caught 35- and 27-yarders while piling up six catches for 106 yards. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison scored from 10 yards out, and James ran 11 yards for another touchdown as the Colts built their 41-3 lead.
The Colts' defense had reason to celebrate, racking up five takeaways and four sacks. On seven possessions, the Bears were limited to three plays or fewer. The league's worst-ranked offense earned just 224 total yards in the game. Colts cornerback Joseph Jefferson caused a fumble and caught his first interception. End Robert Mathis recorded his fourth sack and fourth forced fumble in two games and tackle Josh Williams recovered a botched handoff.
The Colts sacked Bears quarterback Craig Krenzel four times and intercepted him twice. Krenzel, a rookie from Ohio State, completed 14-of-24 passes for 175 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown that came with 1:37 to play.
Rookie safety Bob Sanders made his third consecutive start and was credited with two tackles and one defended pass but suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game while covering a kickoff in the third quarter.
The Bears made a fourth-quarter touchdown against stand-ins to bring the score to 41-10, but the game was wrapped up long before then.
Game 11: Nov. 25, 2004
Colts feast on Lions on Thanksgiving Day; Manning throws 6 TDs in 41-9 rout
Taking advantage of five turnovers, the Colts gave the Lions the worst beating in the 65-year history of Detroit's Thanksgiving Day game. Indianapolis led 27-9 at the half and added two more touchdowns to make the final score 41-9.
Quarterback Peyton Manning made it look easy, throwing six touchdowns -- one short of the NFL's single game record. That gave him 41 for the season, just seven shy of Dan Marino's single-season record of 48.
Brandon Stokely was the receiver on the first three touchdown passes and Marvin Harrison grabbed the next three. Although all of the Colts' scoring came in the passing game, there was also plenty of action on the ground. Running back Edgerrin James rushed 23 times for 105 yards and made the Colts' play-action attack deadly effective.
The Colts' defense held the Lions, giving up only three fields goals and no TDs. Defenders also came up with five takeaways. In the second quarter, linebackers Rob Morris and David Thornton both forced fumbles which Manning turned into touchdowns. In the third quarter, the Lions were stripped of the ball again, this time during a punt return, turning over the ball on their own 36. Six plays later, the Colts were in the end zone for the sixth time in the game.
Game 12: Dec. 5, 2004
Colts shut down creative Titans in 51-24 blowout
After a wild first quarter in which the Tennessee Titans bolted to a 24-17 lead, the Colts took command of the remaining three quarters and methodically built another blowout score of 51-24.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, who completed 25-of-33 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions, spread the wealth among his receivers. Brandon Stokley caught eight passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison had four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Wayne had six catches, 96 yards and the other passing touchdown.
Fans in the upper deck kept track of Manning's season total TDs as he
came within four of the NFL record of 48 in a season.
With running back Edgerrin James rushing 18 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, the Colts were a mere 4 yards from having a 100-yard rusher and three 100-yard receivers for the first time in club history.
Tennessee was playing without starting quarterback Steve McNair and with an injury-plagued defense where five starters didn't play, including three in the secondary. The Titans knew going into the game they'd be hard-pressed to stop Manning & Co.
Backup quarterback Billy Volek and the Tennessee offense brought along a back of tricks, including three onside kicks, and for one memorable quarter they controlled the game. Volek was 6-of-9 for 180 yards during that first quarter. Wide receiver Drew Bennett, who had never caught two touchdown passes in a game, had three in a quarter. Volek and the Tennessee offense weren't able to sustain that magic over the rest of the game however and the Titans' per-play average went from 11.4 yards to 2.4 as they were shut out for the final three quarters.
After being thrown off-balance by the Titans' first-quarter wizardry, the Colts' defense bounced back shutting Volek down for the rest of the game. Colt defenders had two interceptions, forced two fumbles and collected seven sacks.
Game 13: Dec. 12, 2004
Colts clinch the AFC South title, defeating Houston 23-14
After having been defeated 49-14 earlier in the season, Houston made the Colts - who scored a season-low 23 points, earn this win. In the fourth quarter, ahead by only three points, Indianapolis went back to the basics - giving the ball the Edgerrin James. He helped put the team in position for Mike Vanderjagt to score two field goals and seal the win. James had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, rushing 28 times for 104 yards.
The Colts, celebrating their second consecutive division title, emphasized they were by no means satisfied with stopping there - they want the NFL crown.
Once again, the Colts' defense helped secure the win, making plays when it counted. Texan quarterback David Carr was operating under pressure from Colt defenders throughout the game. He lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked five times - three of them by Dwight Freeney. Also contributing difference-making plays for the Colt defense were Raheem Brock and Robert Mathis.
With three games to go in the regular season, Quarterback Peyton Manning threw only two touchdowns, leaving him three shy of breaking Dan Marino's record, but was happy to come away with a win.
Game 14: Dec. 19, 2004
The TD record is on hold but the Colts survive the Ravens, winning 20-10
A sellout crowd came to a nationally televised game hoping to see Peyton Manning make NFL history by breaking Dan Marino's touchdown record. The record didn't fall, but the Ravens did. To Manning and his teammates, the goal was just to keep winning games. The Ravens secondary, which had given up only 10 touchdowns all season, allowed Manning to connect only once in the end zone, pushing his season total to 47 - two shy of breaking the record.
Indianapolis was limited to a season-low 316 yards and 20 points. After trading field goals, the Ravens trailed the Colts by only 3 points at the half. In addition to the Manning to Marvin Harrison strike, Edgerrin James scored on a 3-yard run late in the third quarter. Mike Vanderjagt kicked two field goals in the first half but missed on a 33-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. The Colts had a chance to score again late in the game but chose instead to take a knee on the Ravens 6-yard-line and run out the clock. The crowd booed, but the coach and players agreed it was the right decision.
It was an overlooked Colts' defense that practically stole the show. Although they gave up 354 total yards, and allowed Baltimore to convert 3 of 5 fourth down attempts, they kept points off the scoreboard when it counted. Jamal Lewis, the Ravens outstanding running back, gained 130 yards, but did not score. Once again, Dwight Freeney proved a menace, keeping Kyle Boller under constant pressure, sacking him twice. In the final minute of the game, Cato June punctuated the defensive heroics by intercepting a Boller pass and running it back to the six.
Prior to the game, Mayor BART PETERSON, and Colts owner JIM IRSAY,
The game was one of the most-watched shows in ESPN history, with an overnight rating of 9.2.
Marino's record falls in dramatic fashion and the Colts win 34-31 in overtime
Nothing normal happened this Sunday at the roiling, boiling
Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokley with 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter broke one of the NFL's most honored records and carried the Colts into overtime, where they beat the San Diego Chargers 34-31 to lock up the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Manning said in the aftermath. "I whispered to (Stokley): 'Hey, run a post.'
"It turns into street ball real quick."
Manning's improv resulted in his 49th touchdown pass of the season. That's one more than Dan Marino threw when he set the record, 20 long seasons ago, and it brought the Colts to within 31-29.
The dome came undone. The sellout crowd of 57,330 was transformed
into a surging, thundering mob. Flashbulbs flickered with such
frequency the effect was strobe-like. Colts celebrated. Chargers sagged.
Only Manning seemed unaffected. He bumped fists with right guard Jake Scott almost distractedly. His work wasn't finished.
"Not a lot of emotion for me," Manning said, "because we had a two-point play to get set up."
It was a dramatic ending to a frustrating game. For three quarters, the Colts struggled, going an uncharacteristic 1-for-6 in the red zone. Going into the fourth quarter, the Chargers led 31-16. Then the course of the game changed when Dominic Rhodes ran a kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown and the team and the Dome came to life.
Early on, the Colt defense looked like it deserved to be ranked 28th in the league. It allowed San Diego's Drew Brees to complete 21 passes in 31 attempts, including a 74-yard catch and run touchdown by LaDainian Tomlinson.
But the defense came together just in time and got the job done, stopping the Chargers three times in the final quarter. A last effort by San Diego was halted when Rob Morris made his first-ever interception. Dwight Freeney upped his sack total for the season to 16.
Manning was 27 of 44 on the day for 383 yards despite being pressured by the San Diego defense all afternoon and sacked four times. Brandon Stokley caught the record-breaking touchdown, his 10th of the season. With one game left in the season, Stokley, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne all had at least 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns - both NFL firsts.
Running back Edgerrin James pounded into the middle for the two-point conversion that tied the score, linebacker Rob Morris intercepted a Drew Brees pass to kill San Diego's final possession, and the end came quickly: The Colts won the coin toss, took the kickoff and drove 61 yards to the 11th game-winning field goal of Mike Vanderjagt's career, a 30-yarder that brought the crowd to its feet one final time.
The Colts' eighth consecutive victory lifted them to 12-3 and locked up a wild-card game at the RCA Dome January 9.
Colts are AFC South Champions . . .
Game 16: Jan 3, 2005
Colts rest their starters for the playoffs and lose to Denver, 33-14
For many Colt players, this game was over almost before it began. With the 3rd seed in the AFC a lock, Indianapolis chose to rest many of its starters for the playoffs. Although an 8-game win streak was at risk, coach Tony Dungy took Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James out after only one series of downs. Manning ended the season with a quarterback rating of 121.1, shattering the 112.8 record set in 1994 by Steve Young. He spent the majority of this game sending signals in to rookie backup quarterback Jim Sorgi.
Sorgi made the most of a rare opportunity for playing time. He passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns. On his first drive, he completed all seven of his passes - the last one a 6-yarder to Marvin Harrison for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, he hooked up with Reggie Wayne for a 71-yard touchdown. Sorgi's two touchdowns gave the Colts 51 for the season, breaking the 1984 Dolphins' record of 49.
While the Colts treated the game like it was the preseason, for Denver it was win-or-go-home. The Broncos were haunted by an embarassing 41-10 playoff loss to the Colts in 2003 and knew that winning the game would guarantee a rematch.
Game 1: Jan 9, 2005
Colts have a record day and rout the Broncos 49-24.
The Broncos came to Indianapolis hoping to avenge a humiliating playoff loss to the Colts in 2003. But once again, Denver was outhit, outplayed and outgained by a Colts team fueled by talk they were soft. One of the best plays of the game came when the much-smaller Marvin Harrison flattened Bronco cornerback Champ Bailey to allow Reggie Wayne to score a game-clinching touchdown.
Denver, having defeated the Colts a week earlier, entered the game feeling confident. But by halftime, behind 35-3, the Broncos were feeling embarrassed and helpless against the Colts overpowering offense.
From the first play of the game, Colt defenders delivered one of their more physical efforts in a long time. They allowed Denver just 40 yards in the first quarter and 103 in the first half.
Denver's 6th-ranked pass defense let it be known they intended to be physical with the Colts' receivers but instead spent the afternoon in full retreat. Reggie Wayne was the star of the game. He collected 10 receptions for 221 yards, a franchise post-season record, and had touchdowns of 35-and 43-yards. Also exploiting the Bronco defenders was Dallas Clark who had six receptions for 112 yards and a 19-yard touchdown.
The 49-points scored by Indianapolis were also a franchise post-season record as were the 27 first downs and Peyton Manning's 27 completions and 457 passing yards. The win earned the Colts another shot at the New England Patriots, their long-time nemesis and reigning Super Bowl champs.
Game 2: Jan. 16, 2005
The Patriots knock the Colts out of the playoffs in a 20-3 pummeling
After a memorable regular season in which they average 32.6 points per game and quaterback Peyton Manning threw a record 49 touchdowns and was named league MVP, the Indianapolis Colts seemed to be on their way to the Super Bowl at last. But a familiar obstacle stood in their way -- the New England Patriots.
It was the Patriots who had ended the Colts' 2003-04 season by
winning the AFC Championship game on their way to winning Super Bowl
XXXIX. This time, the two teams met in the second round of the
playoffs and the result was familiar. Playing in the snow at Foxboro,
The Colts entered the game believing this was their year. Indianapolis' powerful offense would be facing a New England defense minus two starting cornerbacks and a Pro Bowl defensive end. But, for the second year in a row, the Colts' season came to an abrupt end at Foxboro, Mass. in a game completely dominated by the Patriots.
On a cold, snowy evening, New England outplayed, outhit and outscored the Colts 20-3. Despite protestations to the contrary, the snow and cold dogged the Colts throughout the game and was apparently a major factor in the loss.
Colt players and officials were, again, forced to confront some familiar questions about the team's inability to defeat the Patriots and it's lack of a good defense. For Peyton Manning, now 0-7 in New England, it was another lost opportunity. The league's Most Valuable Player wasn't strong enough individually to overcome teamwide shortcomings. Manning completed 27-of-42 passes for 238 yards with no touchdowns. He threw one interception, a desperation pass with four seconds left in the game. The Colts' lone scoring drive came in the second quarter and resulted in a field goal.
The Colts' defense kept it close in the first half but the Patriots stuck to their running game. New England running backs Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk, combined for 39 rushes and 210 yards. The Patriots also enjoyed a whopping edge in time of possession, holding the ball more than 15 minutes longer than the Colts.
January 6, 2005
Peyton Manning was a runaway winner of The Associated Press 2004 NFL Offensive Player of the Year - as if there could be any doubt.
The Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback had perhaps the greatest passing season in league history. He broke Dan Marino's 20-year-old record with 49 touchdown passes and had a passer rating of an almost unfathomable 121.1, shattering Steve Young's mark of 112.8 set in 1994. Manning threw only 10 interceptions and led the Colts to the AFC South title with a 12-4 record.
Manning earned 35 votes from a U.S. national panel of 48 writers and broadcasters who cover pro football. He easily outdistanced Eagles receiver Terrell Owens and Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who each got four votes.
Rarely, if ever, has a quarterback been so dominant. Manning, 28, had a six-touchdown performance on U.S. Thanksgiving Day at Detroit. He had three five-TD games (against Green Bay, Kansas City and Houston) and two with four touchdowns (Chicago and Minnesota). Against the NFC North alone, he threw for 19 touchdowns.
In all, Manning was 336-for-497 for 4,557 yards and hit on 67.6 per cent of his throws. Three times, he had a passer rating above 140.
--This year's AFC South title is the fourth divisional championship (1987, 1999, 2003, 2004) in the 21-year history of the franchise in Indianapolis.
--The Colts recorded their first back-to-back divisional titles since the former Baltimore Colts won three straight crowns in 1975, 1976, and 1977.
--Indianapolis has owned or shared the lead in the AFC South in 43 of the 50 weeks of the division's existence.
--The Colts' current eight-game winning streak is the longest for the franchise since an 11-game winning streak in 1999. It's also the longest winning streak in the head coaching career of coach Tony Dungy.
--Dungy has led teams to three divisional titles, one in Tampa Bay (1999) and two in Indianapolis (2003, 2004).
--Indianapolis has won 13 games in a season twice, 1968 (13-1) and 1999 (13-3).
--The Colts (508) have become the 10th NFL team with 500 or more points in a season, along with Minnesota (556, 1998), Washington (541, 1983), St. Louis Rams (540, 2000), St. Louis Rams (526, 1999), Houston Oilers (513, 1961), Miami (513, 1984), San Francisco (505, 1994), St. Louis Rams (503, 2001), Denver (501, 1998).
--Indianapolis' 508 points are the most in the league this season.
--The Colts have scored 30 or more points in 10 games and 40 or more points in five games.
--QB Peyton Manning has led the Colts to a 66-45 won-loss record in seven seasons. Manning has completed 2,463-of-3,878 career passes (63.5 pct.) for 29,436 yards, 216 touchdowns, 120 interceptions and a 92.3 efficiency rating.
-- Peyton Manning set yet another NFL passing record Sunday, finishing the season with a rating of 121.1, more than eight points better than Steve Young's 10-year old NFL single-season efficiency mark (112.8).
--Although Manning has thrown an NFL single-season record 49 touchdown passes this season, he has never thrown a touchdown pass at INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium. He was 27-of-44 for 229 yards and an interception in his only appearance in the stadium on Nov. 24, 2002. Other than INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium, the only other road game venue where Manning has failed to throw a TD is Edward Jones Stadium in St. Louis.
December 19, 2004
The Indianapolis Colts and the city have agreed in principle on a new stadium and a 30-year lease by the NFL team.
Irsay and Peterson had agreed in principle on terms including the construction of a new stadium with a retractable roof and seating 60,000 to 70,000 fans. It would be located on a site about a block away from RCA Dome, the Colts' home since the franchise left Baltimore in 1984.
The two sides had agreed on a 30-year by the Colts and that Peterson would hold a news conference Monday to release the details of the deal, including financing.
The Colts' current lease runs through 2013 but includes an escape clause that could take effect after 2006. The city can prevent the Colts from exercising that clause by making payments, expected to exceed $10 million, twice in three years to keep the eam at the NFL's median income level.
Among the factors driving the city toward building a new stadium has been the Colts' desire to earn more revenue than they do now at the RCA Dome, which has the smallest seating capacity among current NFL stadiums at 55,506.
Also the city wants to expand the adjacent Indiana Convention Center and recapture business that has outgrown the center, prompting some large groups to relocate their meetings to other cities.
The total cost of a new stadium and convention center expansion has been estimated at $750 million.
December 22, 2004
The Triplets are doing Honolulu as a group.
Wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
The Colts had a busy offseason and the main focus of the offseason was to sign star running back Edgerrin James to a new contract. However, that did not happen, and the Colts decided to take the initiative of sticking him with the franchise tag. The franchise tag was a way to keep a player on the roster for one more year, but for a much larger sum of money than specified on his contract. Speaking of signings, the Colts also signed RT Ryan Diem to a seven-year contract that included a $12 million signing bonus, which made him one of the highest-paid tackles in the league.
The Colts were not able to re-sign TE Marcus Pollard (Detroit Lions, free-agent) and DE Brad Scioli (free-agent) during the offseason
The 2005 Indianapolis Colts season began with the team trying to improve on their 12-4 record from 2004 and to advance farther into the playoffs. The Colts finished the season 14-2, but lost their first game in the postseason to the Pittsburgh Steelers who ended as Super Bowl XL champions. They started the season with a 13-game winning streak and were heavily favored to go to the Super Bowl. The Colts' nemesis, the New England Patriots, lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The following night the Colts were favored over the Steelers because they had easily beaten them in the two preceding years. However, the Colts were disappointed by the #6-seed Steelers upset win.
Week 1: at Baltimore Ravens
Colts 24 Ravens 7
In the first sunday night football game of the 2005 NFL regular season, the Colts came into town to face the Baltimore Ravens. This game was a game of mistakes by Baltimore, and taking advantage of miscues for Indianapolis. Baltimore QB Kyle Boller threw an interception for a touchdown before being injured, and his replacement, Anthony Wright ended up throwing two more interceptions. Baltimore kicker Matt Stover missed three field goals, and gave the Colts more opportunities to score. The Colts also had three takeaways, and the Ravens had none, however, the Colts punted seven times while Baltimore only punted four times. Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning finished the game 21 for 36, with 254 yards passing, and two touchdown passes. Ravens QB Anthony Wright finished the game 19 for 31, with 214 yards passing, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Indianapolis RB Edgerrin James had 88 yards on 23 carries, and Ravens RB Jamal Lewis had 48 yards on 16 carries.
Week 2: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Colts 10 Jaguars 3
During last week's game at Baltimore, the Colts' defense was the talk of the week, not their offense. This week was similar as the Colts surrendered only 3 points to the Jaguars. This game between AFC South division rivals was dominated by the running game for both teams, and the defensive lines. Colts QB Peyton Manning was 13 of 28 for 122 yards passing, with no touchdowns and an interception while Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich finished the game 16 of 29 for 198 yards passing. Edgerrin James finished his day off with 27 carries for 128 yards rushing, and Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor finished with 16 carries for 81 yards. Jacksonville had seven fumbles in this game, but recovered every one of them. This game was scoreless until there was less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
Week 3: vs. Cleveland Browns
Colts 13 Browns 6
Colts RB Edgerrin James topped the 100-yard mark for the second straight game, and he also scored his first rushing touchdown of the year in this game. His 2-yard touchdown run was the only touchdown scored, and the kickers for both teams both kicked in two field goals each. The Browns defended the deep pass and the potent Colts offense all game, and the Colts just ran the ball. Both of the quarterbacks combined for only 11 incomplete passes. Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 19 for 23 with 228 yards passing and one interception as Browns QB Trent Dilfer finished 22 of 29 for 208 passing yards.
In this game, QB Peyton Manning was the second-fastest quarterback to reach 30,000 career passing yards. He did it in 115 games, while Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino did it in 114 games. This win against the Browns was the Colts' seventh-consecutive win in the RCA Dome. After this game, the Colts moved to 3-0, while the Browns went to 1-2.
Week 4: at Tennessee Titans
Colts 31 Titans 10
The Indianapolis offense finally showed up this game, as QB Peyton Manning threw for 264 yards and four touchdown passes. Two of those touchdown passes were to WR Marvin Harrison and those two touchdowns tied the record for the most touchdowns between a quarterback and a receiver. RB Edgerrin James had 21 carries for 90 yards, and Marvin Harrison had 9 catches for 109 yards.
The Colts have only allowed 26 points to be scored against them in four games so far, which is a franchise record. The Titans never really got anything going on offense, and Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair was their leading rusher for the team in this game.
Week 5: at San Francisco 49ers
Colts 28 49ers 3
Nobody expected this game to be even close, as NFL veteran quarterback Peyton Manning was facing the San Francisco 49ers, and their rookie quarterback Alex Smith, who was making his first start this game. Smith had his troubles all game as he finished 9 for 23 with 74 passing yards, five turnovers (four of them were interceptions), and five sacks. Peyton Manning completed 23 of his 31 passes, threw for one touchdown, and two interceptions. Colts MLB Cato June picked off Alex Smith twice, returning one of them for a touchdown. Colts RB Edgerrin James finished the day with 21 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown, and 49ers RB Kevan Barlow ran for 99 yards off of 18 carries.
Also of note, after Cato June's interception return, kicker Mike Vanderjagt scored his 900th point in the NFL. Also, after Manning got his first career win over the 49ers in this game, that left only four teams that he has not beaten yet.
Week 6: vs. St. Louis Rams
Colts 45 Rams 28
The St. Louis Rams came into a Week 6 matchup with the Colts on Monday Night Football with QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison tied with Steve Young and Jerry Rice on the list of the most touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver. That eventually changed in the fourth quarter, as Manning and Harrison made NFL history, again.
The Rams jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the Colts in the RCA Dome in front of a Monday Night Football audience, and nobody could believe it. The 5-0 Colts were down 17 points at the end of the first quarter, and the 2-5 Rams had all the confidence in the world. That drastically changed in the second half, however. After two interceptions by MLB Cato June that set up two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble recovery by CB Nick Harper that had also set up two touchdown scores, the Colts scored all 45 of their points in three quarters, and held the Rams to just 11 points those quarters.
Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison also happened to make history that night also, by completing their 86th career touchdown pass to pass Steve Young and Jerry Rice on the list of the most touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver. Cato June also left the game as the NFL leader in interceptions. He had three interceptions in the past two games (one for a touchdown). Also of note, Rams QB Marc Bulger went out of the game with a shoulder injury, and backup QB Jamie Martin replaced him for the rest of the game.
Week 7: at Houston Texans
Colts 38 Texans 20
The Texans had a fast start, as they forced two first-half turnovers and had the game tied at 14 at halftime. However, that did not hold up in the second half as the Colts scored 24 second-half points and held Houston to -4 total yards on offense. There was even a drive when Texans QB David Carr was sacked on three straight plays, and on those last two sacks, he fumbled the ball. But, Houston recovered both fumbles, and punted the ball after those three horrible plays. Colts QB Peyton Manning was 21 for 27 with 237 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, and David Carr was 6 of 9 with 48 passing yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
Also of note, this win gave coach Tony Dungy his 100th career win in the NFL. He is the 34th head coach to win 100 games.
Week 8 - BYE WEEK
Week 9: at New England Patriots
Colts 30 Patriots 21
Coming into this game, Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning was 0-7 against the Patriots in Foxboro. Manning finished the game 28 for 37 with 321 yards and three touchdowns. He helped guide the Colts to score on seven of their eight possessions.
The Colts forced the Patriots to do some uncharacteristic things just to catch up. Pats coach Bill Belichick called for an onside kick, and to go for a first down on fourth down and 4. The Colts held onto the ball for over 36 minutes of the game, and controlled the tempo all the way to the end.
Patriots QB Tom Brady finished the game 22 of 33 for 265 yards and three touchdowns, running back Corey Dillon ran the ball for 40 yards on 12 carries, and Edgerrin James ran the ball for 104 yards on 34 carries. The Colts had two receivers top 100 yards receiving, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and both of them had nine receptions each. Colts DE Robert Mathis recorded a sack this game, to keep his streak alive at eight straight games with at least one sack. Through week 9, the Colts are the only undefeated team in the league.
Week 10: vs. Houston Texans
Colts 31 Texans 17
Colts QB Peyton Manning finished his game off 26 of 35 with 297 passing yards, three touchdowns, and was sacked once, while Texans QB David Carr went 16 for 25 with 138 passing yards, one touchdown, and was sacked three times. RB Edgerrin James carried the football 26 times for 122 yards. The Houston Texans offense could only muster up two first downs the entire game, and one was by penalty in the second quarter. Colts DE Robert Mathis failed to record a sack in this game, the first time all season that he has not had at least one sack in a game.
Through week 10, the Colts are the only undefeated team in the league.
Week 11: at Cincinnati Bengals
Colts 45 Bengals 37
Prior to this game, Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson made his weekly guarantee that the opposing cornerback could not stop him. The Colts cornerbacks could not stop Johnson, as he had 8 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown. But, the Bengals still lost to the Colts in a shootout, and the Colts remained the only team in the NFL, at 10-0. Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 24 for 40 with 365 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception. The opposing quarterback, Carson Palmer also had marvelous stats, as he finished with 25 pass completions on 38 attempts, two touchdowns, and one interception. As Chad Johnson led the Bengals in receiving, TE Dallas Clark led the Colts in receiving with six catches for 125 yards. There were only a total of three punts in the entire game, two by the Colts and one by the Bengals. In the first six possessions of the game, there were five touchdowns and a field goal. During those six possessions, both Manning and Palmer had perfect 158.3 quarterback ratings.
The Colts are the seventeenth team to start the season 10-0, the first team to do so since the Denver Broncos did during the 1998 NFL season. Colts WR Marvin Harrison also reached 900 receptions for his career in this game, and he is the fastest player to do so in NFL history.
Week 12: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Colts 26 Steelers 7
The Colts defeated another tough AFC opponent this week, and are still undefeated. After handing the Steelers with another defeat, the Colts solidified their presence in the NFL as one of the best teams. After the Steelers went three-and-out on their very first possession of the game, the Colts scored on their first play of their first drive. On the first play from scrimmage in the game, quarterback Peyton Manning threw an 80-yard touchdown strike to WR Marvin Harrison. Harrison just blew by cornerback Ike Taylor, and the Colts never looked back. They controlled the tempo throughout the entire game. Manning finished the game 15 of 25 with 245 passing yards, had two touchdowns, and one interception. On the other hand, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, did not fare to well. He finished 17 of 26 with 133 passing yards, had one touchdown, and two interceptions. The Colts snapped Roethlisberger's nine-game road winning streak. Roethlisberger had never lost a game on the road during his first season in 2004, and has not yet lost on the road in 2005 before coming to Indianapolis. Marvin Harrison led all receivers in the game with four catches for 128 yards and one touchdown.
The Colts are the eleventh team to start the season 11-0, the first team to do so since the Denver Broncos did during the 1998 NFL season. Also, after Manning got his first career win over the Steelers in this game, that left only three teams that he has not beaten yet.
Week 13: vs. Tennessee Titans
Colts 35 Titans 3
The Colts continued their undefeated streak this week as they mightily defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-3. So far, the Colts have won seven of their last nine games by at least 17 points, and average more than 35 points per game. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning completed 13 of 17 passes for 187 passing yards and three touchdowns, giving him a 151.2 QB rating. Titans QB Steve McNair was 22 of 33 with 220 yards passing and had one fumble.
The Colts are the fifth team in NFL history to start the season 12-0, and also clinched a playoff spot with this win against the Titans. But, the Colts will have to wait one more week to clinch the AFC South Championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Peyton Manning also made history in this game, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 25 touchdown passes in eight straight seasons. Also, on the Colts' opening drive, WR Marvin Harrison became the 12th receiver in league history to top 12,000 yards receiving in his career.
Week 14: at Jacksonville Jaguars
Colts 26 Jaguars 18
The Indianapolis Colts are now one step closer to perfection, as they only have three games left to match the record set by the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning picked apart the Jacksonville secondary all game, and finished the game 24 of 36 for 324 yards passing, and had two touchdowns, but was sacked a season-high 3 times. Jaguars QB David Garrard (who was starting in the place of Byron Leftwich) was 26 of 35 for 250 passing yards, and had one touchdown. Also of note, he Colts snapped the Jaguars' five-game winning streak.
After the Colts defeated the Jaguars, they became only the fourth team in NFL history to start a season 13-0. The Colts joined the 1934 Chicago Bears, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and the 1998 Denver Broncos as the only teams to do so. Also, with this win, the Colts clinched the AFC South Division Championship, a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Week 15: vs. San Diego Chargers
Colts 17 Chargers 26
Week 16: at Seattle Seahawks
Colts 13 Seahawks 28
Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals
Colts 17 Cardinals 13
On December 22, 2005, Colts coach Tony Dungy was notified that his eldest son, James Dungy, was found unresponsive in his apartment in Lutz, Florida by James' girlfriend. A deputy from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department performed CPR on the 18-year-old Dungy before an ambulance transported him to University Community Hospital, where James was pronounced dead. The Operations Manager at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiners Department said that that the cause of death was an apparent suicide. On February 17, 2006, after the autopsy was performed, Dr. Jacqueline Lee of the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office stated that Dungy had hung himself from a bedroom ceiling fan with a leather belt.
Colts coach Tony Dungy did not perform his usual head coaching duties in the next regular season game for the Colts, as he had taken a brief vacation to mourn the loss of his son. Assistant Head Coach / Quarterbacks Coach Jim Caldwell took over for Dungy in a Week 16 showdown with the Seattle Seahawks, in which the Colts lost, 13-28. Dungy did return to the next game, which happened to be the last game of the regular season. The Colts won that game, 17-13 over the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts dedicated the last two games of the season to James Dungy.
Two months before his death, James Dungy had also been treated for a prescription drug overdose on October 21, 2005.
AFC Divisional Playoff Game: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Colts 18 Steelers 21
On the first possession of the game for Pittsburgh, they spent 5:35 on a drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger to WR Antwaan Randle El. The stingy Pittsburgh defense forced the Colts to punt on their first possession of the game, and the Steelers tried to increase their lead on their next drive. On the third play of the next drive for the Steelers, a pass from Roethlisberger intended for TE Jerame Tuman was intercepted by Colts LB Cato June. However, the Colts could not take advantage of the turnover as they went three-and-out and were forced to punt yet again. Pittsburgh spent less than three minutes on their next possession, as they went 72 yards and scored another touchdown. This time, Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown pass was complete to TE Heath Miller to put the Steelers up 14-0 with 3:12 left in the first quarter.
On the Colts' next possession, QB Peyton Manning was sacked twice for a total loss of 17 yards and the Colts could not get anything going offensively without negating plays with penalties or losses of yards, and the Colts once again, had to punt. The Steelers went three-and-out on their next possession, as they punted for the first time in the game. On the following drive for Indianapolis, they went three-and-out again, and gave the Steelers the football at the Pittsburgh 44 yard line. The Steelers got down to the Indianapolis 43 yard line, but could not produce anything else on offense and were forced to punt for the second straight possession. Former Colt Chris Gardocki punted the ball to the Colts and Pittsburgh downed the ball at the Colts' own 2 yard line. The Colts found their offensive ways on their next drive as they constructed a 15-play drive that consumed almost ten minutes on the game clock. The drive ended with a field goal by kicker Mike Vanderjagt and the Colts kicked the ball to the Steelers with 1:20 remaining in the half. The Steelers tried to get in field goal range before half, but they were unsuccessful in doing that, and the game clock ran out when Pittsburgh was on their own 32 yard line.
The Colts got the ball back first in the second half, but they still could not construct any offensive production on their drive, so they were forced to bring out P Hunter Smith again. The Steelers spend almost six minutes on their next possession, but like the Colts, they had to punt as they could not come up with anything on third down and 16. The Colts went three-and-out again on their next drive, and the Steelers took advantage of that on their next possession. RB Jerome Bettis finished off the drive for the Steelers with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle to put the Steelers up by 18 points with 1:26 left in the third quarter. On the next possession for the Colts, Peyton Manning threw the ball on every one of the Colts' six plays on the drive, and Manning finished the drive off with a 50-yard touchdown pass to TE Dallas Clark. Pittsburgh then spent over eight minutes on their next drive, but could not get the ball within field goal range, and they had to punt to the Colts. With just over six minutes left in the game, the Colts needed to get something going on offense, and fast. On the second play of the drive, the Colts' future looked bleek. On that play, Peyton Manning's pass intended for TE Bryan Fletcher was intercepted by SS Troy Polamalu at the Indianapolis 44 yard line. But, after a challenge by Colts coach Tony Dungy, the head referee, Pete Morelli reversed the call and gave the ball back to the Colts (a reversal that the league would later admit was a mistake ). So four plays later, after two straight complete passes of over 20 yards each, RB Edgerrin James converted a 3-yard run up the middle for a touchdown to bring the Colts within 5 points, 21-16. The Colts decided to go for a 2-point conversion instead of going with the extra point so they could tie the game with a field goal instead of having to score a touchdown to tie or take the lead. The Colts converted the attempt, and the score was 21-18 in favor of the Steelers with 4:24 left in the game.
The Colts were successful on stopping the Steelers' attack on the next drive. Pittsburgh was able to only run four plays, and then were forced to punt. The Colts received the ball back with 2:31 left in the game, and the drive was stopped abruptly by the Steelers' linebackers. On that drive alone, OLB Joey Porter had 1.5 sacks on Manning, and ILB James Farrior had .5 of a sack on Manning (him and Porter split the second sack on Manning). Peyton was sacked twice on four plays, and the Colts turned the ball over on downs after the last sack on fourth down. The Steelers had great position on the Colts' 2 yard line with 1:20 left in the game.
In perhaps one of the greatest plays in all of NFL history, the next play was in the hands of RB Jerome Bettis. The Colts had all three of their timeouts remaining, so the Steelers could not just kneel the ball without punting to the Colts again. On the first play of the drive, Ben Roethlisberger handed the ball off to Bettis and he ran the ball up the middle, but lost 2 yards on the carry. Those yards were not the only thing he lost on that play. He also lost control of the football (Bettis had not fumbled at all throughout the entire 2005 NFL season). Bettis fumbled the ball after it was struck by Colts LB Gary Brackett's helmet. Brackett's helmet forced the ball out towards the 5 yard line and Colts CB Nick Harper picked up the football and started to run. Before anyone knew it, the Steelers were facing a loss if they did not catch Harper, and the season would end in disappointment. The Steelers were trying to make this playoff run count for Bettis since he is from Detroit, Michigan, and that happens to be the city where Super Bowl XL was held. However, when Harper reached the 42 yard line of the Colts, Roethlisberger came up from behind him and managed to get a hold of Harper's right shin and bring him down, a shoestring tackle nicknamed "The Tackle II" and "The Immaculate Redemption". This tackle ended up being the game-saving tackle, and if Roethlisberger had not made it, the Steelers potentially would not have won Super Bowl XL.
After all the excitement and after the play was over, the Colts had the ball on their own 42 yard line with 1:01 left in the game. The next play was a 22-yard completion from Manning to WR Reggie Wayne. The play after that was another completion, this one an 8-yarder to Marvin Harrison. The Colts now had the ball on the Pittsburgh 28 yard line, and had 2nd down and 8 coming up. After two straight incomplete passes from Manning to Reggie Wayne, the Colts brought out kicker Mike Vanderjagt with 21 seconds to go to kick a 46-yard field goal to tie the game. This kick is not usually a difficult kick for Vanderjagt to make considering that it is indoors, and within 46 yards. On the kick, the snap was good, the hold was good, but as soon as Vanderjagt's foot struck the ball, the ball took off towards the right, and was not even close to the uprights. After the ugly miss, Vanderjagt took off his helmet and threw it to the turf. He was penalized 15-yards for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Steelers ran out the rest of the 17 seconds on the clock and won the game. The Steelers eventually went on to win Super Bowl XL in front of a home crowd for Jerome Bettis, and Vanderjagt was not re-signed by the Colts for next season.
The offseason marked the dissolution of the trio of Edgerrin James, Peyton Manning, and Marvin Harrison, affectionately nicknamed the "Triplets" by Colts fans. While the latter two are signed to long-term contracts, James' contract expired at the end of the 2005 season. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals in the off-season as a free-agent. Other key losses include Larry Tripplett (Buffalo Bills, free-agent) and David Thornton (Tennessee Titans, free-agent). The Colts opted not to re-sign kicker Mike Vanderjagt, instead inking ex-New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri to a lucrative deal. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King was signed to compete with Jim Sorgi for the backup quarterback position, but was later cut and replaced with Josh Betts.
After becoming the first team in NFL history to begin two consecutive seasons by winning at least their first 9 games, the Colts proceeded to lose 3 of their next 4 games with much blame being assigned to their poor run defense. However in week 15 the Colts, with a strong showing from their defense, defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football 34-16 to capture their 4th consecutive AFC South title.
Also in week 13 against the Titans, QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison became the first such combination in NFL history to have completed 100 touchdown passes. The previous record for quarterback/wide receiver TD passes was 85, so with each TD pass the duo continues to obliterate the record books.
The Colts finished the season with a 12-4 record, giving them the number 3 seed in the playoffs. The record also marked their fifth consecutive season with 10 victories or more.
In the Colts' wild-card round playoff game, they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 23-8 despite Peyton Manning's three interceptions. Shockingly, it was their defense that bailed him out. Their maligned run defense held the Chiefs to 44 yards on the ground, and Chiefs' quarterback Trent Green only had 2 yards passing in the entire first half. The Chiefs didn't manage a first down until 3:33 remained in the third quarter.
Week 1: at New York Giants
Colts 26 Giants 21
Indianapolis opened the regular season on the road against the New York Giants on September 10th. In a much-hyped and highly anticipated matchup dubbed "The Manning Bowl," Colts QB Peyton Manning led his team against the Giants and QB Eli Manning, Peyton's younger brother. This contest marked the first time in NFL history that two brothers started at QB opposite one another. On an opening drive that lasted nearly nine minutes, the Colts went 58 yards on 17 plays, only to be held to a 26-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal in his first regular-season appearance as a Colt. The visiting team scored again on another Vinatieri field goal (32 yards) before finally finding the endzone on a 2-yard pass from Peyton Manning to TE Dallas Clark. The Giants trimmed the Colts' lead on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to WR Plaxico Burress, though the Colts responded promptly via a Vinatieri field goal (48 yards) before the half expired. The Giants struck first in the third quarter with another touchdown pass from Eli Manning, this time 15 yards to TE Jeremy Shockey. It proved to be too little too late, however, as the Colts increased their lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Dominic Rhodes. A one-yard touchdown run by Giants RB Brandon Jacobs made the game interesting in the waning minutes, but thanks to yet another Vinatieri field goal (32 yards) and timely defensive plays down the stretch the Colts were able to seal the victory.
Week 2: vs. Houston Texans
Colts 43 Texans 24
In their Week 2 home-opener against AFC South rival Houston, Indianapolis continued its offensive dominance by starting the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Manning to WR Brandon Stokley and a 21-yard pass from Manning to rookie RB Joseph Addai. In the second quarter, kicker Adam Vinatieri successfully converted a 39-yard field goal attempt to push the Colts' lead to 17-0. Houston responded via a 43-yard field goal by kicker Kris Brown, but the Colts tacked on a 43-yard field goal of their own as time ran out on the first half. The third quarter witnessed more of the same as Manning completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to TE Bryan Fletcher and Vinatieri booted another field goal, this time from 38 yards out. Houston showed signs of life in the fourth quarter as QB David Carr completed a 33-yard touchdown pass to TE Owen Daniels. Indianapolis would respond, however, with a 2-yard touchdown run by RB Dominic Rhodes. The Texans answered on Carr's one-yard touchdown pass to TE Mark Bruener, but the Colts scored again on RB Ran Carthon's three-yard touchdown run. Houston scored in the waning moments as Carr completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Andre Johnson, but the game was never as close as the final score indicated. This victory marked the Indianapolis' ninth consecutive against Houston.
Also noteworthy, QB Peyton Manning surpassed Johnny Unitas for the most pass completions in franchise history. Manning accomplished this feat on his third completion of the game.
Peyton Manning finished the game 26 of 38 with 400 yards passing and three touchdowns. David Carr finished with 219 passing yards on 22 of 26 passes completed and also had three touchdown passes as well. Neither quarterback threw an interception, but Carr did fumble the football three times. Colts RB Joseph Addai finished the game with a career-high 82 rushing yards, and also had a touchdown reception. Peyton Manning was sacked twice in this game, and David Carr was sacked four times
Week 3: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Colts 21 Jaguars 14
Playing again in front of the home crowd, the Colts faced a big test in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville scored first on a four-yard touchdown run by QB Byron Leftwich. The Colts were not able to respond until early in the second quarter when WR/PR Terrence Wilkins returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. Indianapolis grabbed the lead for the first time in the third quarter on QB Peyton Manning's 30-yard touchdown pass to TE Dallas Clark. In the fourth quarter, Manning increased Indianapolis' lead on an uncharacteristic two-yard touchdown run. The Jaguars, though, would get to within a touchdown late in the quarter on Leftwich's seven-yard touchdown pass to RB Maurice Jones-Drew. That score, however, proved to be the last of the game as Indianapolis hung on for the victory.
Quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 14 of 31 with 219 passing yards for one touchdown pass, while Byron Leftwich finished 16 of 28 with 107 passing yards for one touchdown pass. Leftwich also threw two interceptions. RB Maurice Jones-Drew had 103 rushing yards for Jacksonville, and Marvin Harrison had 6 catches for 94 yards receiving. Jacksonville Kicker Josh Scobee missed both of his field goals, and they proved crucial in the game in the late stages.
Week 4: at New York Jets
Colts 31 Jets 28
The Colts traveled to The Meadowlands for a Week Four match-up with the New York Jets. Indianapolis scored first on a six-yard touchdown run by RB Dominic Rhodes. The second quarter, though, belonged to the Jets as they tied the game on QB Chad Pennington's 33-yard touchdown pass to WR Jerricho Cotchery and took the lead on RB Kevan Barlow's one-yard touchdown run. The Colts tied the game just before halftime on a two-yard touchdown run by rookie RB Joseph Addai. After a scoreless third quarter, kicker Martin Gramatica, filling in for the injured Adam Vinatieri, booted a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth to give Indianapolis the lead. However, New York again regained control, scoring on a Barlow five-yard touchdown run. Colts QB Peyton Manning rallied the visitors on their next possession, leading them on a scoring drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Bryan Fletcher. Illustrating perfectly the back-and-forth nature of the contest, the lead changed hands again as DB Justin Miller returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. But Indianapolis took the setback in stride as Manning methodically marched the Colts up the field and scored the game's final points on a one-yard QB sneak. Facing a long field and with only eight seconds on the clock, on the game's last play Pennington completed a pass up the middle to RB Leon Washington, who lateraled to WR Brad Smith in a desperate attempt to score a touchdown reminiscent of "The Play" between Stanford University and the University of California). Five laterals and three fumbles later, the Colts ended any hope of a Jets miracle comeback by recovering the final fumble of the play as time expired.
Quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 21 of 30 for 217 passing yards and one touchdown, Chad Pennington was 17 of 23 for 207 yards passing and had one touchdown pass and one interception. Manning was sacked twice while Pennington was sacked three times. Colts rookie running back Joseph Addai had a career-high 84 yards rushing as the Colts improved their record to 4-0.
Week 5: vs. Tennessee Titans
Colts 14 Titans 13
Following their close win against the Jets, the Colts returned home for a Week Five match-up with AFC South rival Tennessee. Surprisingly, the Titans took the lead early as rookie QB Vince Young ran 19 yards for a touchdown in what would be the first quarter's only score. In the second quarter, Tennessee expanded its lead to 10-0 on a 22-yard Rob Bironas field goal. Indianapolis cut the deficit mid-way through the third quarter on QB Peyton Manning's 13-yard touchdown strike to WR Marvin Harrison. However, Tennessee countered on Bironas' 47-yard field goal, which gave the Titans a 13-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Showing the resolve that allowed them to come from behind in their two previous games, the Indianapolis offense delivered what turned out to be the game-clinching score in the middle of the fourth on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to WR Reggie Wayne. With the win the Colts stayed undefeated and expanded their lead in the AFC South to two games over second place Jacksonville.
Peyton Manning finished the game 20 of 31 for 166 passing yards with 2 touchdown passes and one interception, and Vince Young finished with 63 passing yards on 10 of 21 pass attempts and threw one interception also. Tennessee running back Travis Henry had 123 rushing yards in the loss.
Week 6 BYE WEEK
Week 7: vs. Washington Redskins
Colts 36 Redskins 22
Coming off their bye week, the Colts gave a solid offensive performance at home against the Washington Redskins. Indianapolis won the contest 36-22 despite being down 14-13 at the half. QB Peyton Manning, who was hit hard by defenders twice in the first half, rebounded resoundingly in the second half with three touchdown passes in the third quarter. On a day when Manning was almost perfect (he would finish the game 25/35 with 342 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions), he and WR Marvin Harrison connected for two touchdowns. The performance also saw the pair move up in their respective career yardage lists; Manning passed Jim Hart to move into 14th place in all-time passing yards and Harrison passed Irving Fryar to move into eighth on the career receiving yardage chart. Washington QB Mark Brunell threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions, but his performance could not prevent the Redskins's third consecutive loss going into the bye week.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 25 of 35 for 342 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Washington quarterback Mark Brunell completed 27 of his 37 pass attempts for 226 yards passing and two touchdowns. Colts rookie RB Joseph Addai had a career-high 85 yards rushing on 11 carries, and Redskins RB Ladell Betts carried the football 10 times for 52 yards. Colts WR Reggie Wayne had his first big game of the season, as he had 7 catches for 122 yards receiving and one touchdown.
Week 8: at Denver Broncos
Colts 34 Broncos 31
After a convincing win over a struggling Redskins team, the Colts faced one of their toughest opponents of the year in the Denver Broncos. The Broncos sat atop the AFC West standings with a 5-1 record thanks in large part to a strong running game and a stifling defense that had only allowed two touchdowns on the season. Both defenses played well in the first quarter, which ended with the Colts leading 3-0. Denver took the lead early in the second quarter on a Jake Plummer one-yard touchdown run. Indianapolis cut the lead to one on their next drive, which culminated in a 30-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal, but the Broncos answered with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Plummer to WR Javon Walker just before halftime to expand their lead to 14-6.
The Colts' defense stepped up on the third quarter, forcing a punt on Denver's first possession of the second half. On its first drive of the half Indianapolis regained the lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Manning to WR Reggie Wayne. Denver fared no better against the Indianapolis defense on its second possession than it did on its first. As Denver QB Jake Plummer dropped back to pass he was brought down by Colts DE Dwight Freeney. The play was initially whistled dead, but just after the whistle Plummer fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Colts DT Raheem Brock. Indianapolis challenged the ruling, arguing that Plummer was not on the ground but was laying on top of an Indianapolis player, and that under the NFL's new "continuation" rule the ball was therefore still live despite the play having already been whistled dead. After viewing a replay, the referee concluded that Plummer was indeed not down and that the fumble recovery was good, giving Indianapolis the ball back inside Denver's 20-yard-line. Had the call on the field stood, Denver would almost certainly have punted, putting Indianapolis in their own territory.
Starting in the red zone, Wayne and Manning hooked up again for another touchdown. But the Broncos came back with a one-yard touchdown run by Mike Bell, giving them a one-point lead. Indianapolis regained the lead on their next drive thanks to a 48-yard Vinatieri field goal. Denver's Mike Bell then scored another rushing touchdown, giving the Broncos a five-point lead. Indianapolis answered with the third touchdown of the day from Manning to Wayne and also succeeded on a two-point conversion attempt, putting the Colts up by three. The Colts defense then stopped the Broncos after a 3rd-and-nine and forced Jason Elam to make a 49-yard field goal to tie the game. Denver kicked off to Indianapolis, and the final drive of the game resulted in an Adam Vinatieri field goal with two seconds left to put Indianapolis up by three.
Manning ended the game with three touchdown passes--all to Reggie Wayne. Rookie Joseph Addai rushed for 93 yards on only 17 carries. Dwight Freeney was credited with half a sack, his first of the season.
Week 9: at New England Patriots
Colts 27 Patriots 20
The Colts headed to Gillette Stadium for a highly-anticipated Sunday Night matchup with the New England Patriots. In the first quarter, an interception in the endzone by Colts rookie FS Antoine Bethea set-up the Colts' first scoring drive, a 68-yard march culminated by a five-yard touchdown pass from QB Peyton Manning to WR Marvin Harrison for the only score of the period. The Patriots succeeding in gaining yards in the first quarter but could not capitalize on the opportunities. Already banged up on defense, the Patriots lost SS Rodney Harrison to an injury in the first quarter; he never returned. Early in the second quarter, New England responded to the Colts touchdown on a one-yard touchdown run by RB Corey Dillon. The Colts answered right back on a short touchdown run of their own by rookie RB Joseph Addai. On the following drive, Dillon would even the score again with a 4-yard touchdown run. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 23-yard field goal to close out the half.
In the third quarter Manning and Harrison picked up where they left off, hooking up for a four-yard touchdown strike halfway through the period. New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski would later nail a 49-yard field goal to reduce the Colts' margin to seven. Defensive intensity picked up in the fourth quarter as offenses for both teams operated under consistent pressure. The only scores of the quarter came as field goals for both teams. Vinatieri made a 31-yard field goal for Indianapolis and Gostkowski split the uprights for a 26-yard field goal for the Patriots. New England's last chance for an improbable comeback ended late in the fourth as Tom Brady's pass to RB Kevin Faulk went off Faulk's fingertips into the waiting arms of LB Cato June, June's second interception of the evening and Brady's fourth.
The victory marked the Colts' second straight versus the Patriots after having lost the previous six. With the win the Colts became just the second team to begin consecutive seasons 8-0 (the Green Bay Packers began three consecutive seasons 8-0 from 1929-31). Also, with 326 yards passing QB Peyton Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Week 10: vs. Buffalo Bills
Colts 17 Bills 16
The Colts defeated the Buffalo Bills, 17-16, becoming the first team in NFL history to start consecutive seasons 9-0.
The game's scoring began with a field goal by Bills' kicker Rian Lindell to give them a 3-0 lead. After a punt by the Colts, the Bills got the ball back in hopes of extending their lead, but they also had to punt. The Colts' next possession ended with a one-yard touchdown pass from QB Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne and allowed the Colts to take the 7-3 lead with 11:14 left in the half. The Bills punted yet again on the next possession, and after a field goal by Colts' kicker Adam Vinatieri, the Colts were up by a touchdown with 2:48 left in the half. After the Bills had to punt for the third time, the Colts had another chance to extend their lead, but the game soon changed dramatically after the Bills tied the score on a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Terrence McGee just before the end of the half. The fumble came on a 9-yard pass from Peyton Manning to TE Ben Utecht. Utecht was heading for the ground, and the ball was forced out before he was down. At the half, the game was tied at 10.
On the opening possession of the third quarter, the drive ended in a 5-yard touchdown run by Colts' RB Joseph Addai. The Bills produced more yardage on their next possession, thanks to Terrence McGee, who had also recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the first half. McGee took Vinatieri's kickoff 88-yards to the Colts 12 yard line. The Bills couldn't produce any offense after that, and settled for a Lindell field goal. The Colts were forced to punt on their next two drives, and the Bills didn't fare much better. The Colts were up by four points, 17-13 at the end of the third quarter. On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Lindell made another field goal for the Bills to reduce the Colts' lead to 1 point. On the next possession, the Colts went 10 yards, and on the following play, RB Dominic Rhodes fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Bills CB Nate Clements. The Bills now had the ball on the Colts' 41 yard line with 8:49 left in the game. After the Bills moved the ball down to the Colts' 23 yard line, Rian Lindell had another chance to score for the Bills. However, Lindell was wide-right on the kick, and the Colts converted 4 first downs and ran the clock out to win the game.
With the Colts' win and a loss by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 13-10 to the Houston Texans, the Colts are now four games ahead in the AFC South.
Week 11: at Dallas Cowboys
Colts 14 Cowboys 21
The Colts suffered their first defeat of the season, 21-14, and became the last team to lose this season.
This game was a story of turnovers and missed opportunities. The Colts and Cowboys each had their share of turnovers, but the Colts had missed a lot of opportunities to take control of the game. In front of 63,706 fans, QB Peyton Manning was looking for another 10-0 start to the season and his first win at Texas Stadium. However, he did not plan on throwing two interceptions, in which one of those was returned for a touchdown by Kevin Burnett early in the second half.
The first quarter was back-and-forth as each possession ended with turnover after turnover. On the Cowboys' first possession, Indianapolis' DE Dwight Freeney sacked QB Tony Romo and forced a fumble that was recovered by Colts OLB Cato June. On the Colts' drive after Romo's fumble, the Colts were producing some offense until a pass from Manning was caught and fumbled by WR Marvin Harrison. That was Harrison's first fumble since the 2004 season. After a Cowboys punt, the Colts got the ball right back and committed another turnover, their second of the game. After Manning fumbled after he was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and the Colts recovered, Manning was sacked again on his own 47 yard line by Jay Ratliff and coughed up the ball, again. Bradie James recovered the fumble and the Cowboys got the ball back. After starting the next drive on his own 43 yard line, Romo and RB Julius Jones contributed to moving the ball down into Indianapolis territory. On first down on the Colts' 31-yard line, Romo threw a deep pass near the endzone intended for Terry Glenn but was intercepted by CB Nick Harper at the Indianapolis 4 yard line. The Colts later punted on the following drive, and the Cowboys reached field goal territory in no time for former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt to attempt a 43-yarder. Up to this point, two of the three field goals that Vanderjagt had missed on the season had hit the upright. There was no difference on this kick, as it hit the right upright and bounced out. The game still had no score with 11:15 left in the half.
The Colts received the ball at their own 33 yard line, and Manning & Co. pushed the cowboys deep in their own territory thanks to the great rushing by RB Joseph Addai. The Colts reached the 4 yard line, and on third down, Manning attempted a pass to the endzone, but in a controversial situation, SS Roy Williams nudged TE Dallas Clark near the endzone, and while Clark fell down, Williams intercepted a Peyton Manning pass for the second time in his career, and gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 7 yard line. After another Cowboys punt, the Colts had the ball with a little over three minutes to go in the half. Thanks to a few great runs by RB Dominic Rhodes and a whole arsenal of Manning's pass attempts, the Colts had no problem moving the ball. In the end, with 10 seconds remaining in the half, Peyton Manning threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to WR Reggie Wayne to take the lead at the half. With 8 seconds remaining, the Cowboys had the ball at their own 44 yard line and needed a deep pass quick to send out Vanderjagt for another field goal attempt. The Cowboys did just that. Romo threw a 28-yard pass to WR Terrell Owens and with 3 seconds left, Vanderjagt ran out on the field to try a 46-yard field goal. The kick sailed right, and Vanderjagt had missed two field goals in one game, the first time that has happened since the 2002 season when the Colts hosted the Cowboys.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Peyton Manning went right out on the field threw another interception, this time to Kevin Burnett, for a touchdown. Within 50 seconds, the game was tied. Indianapolis couldn't do anything with their next possession and the Cowboys forced P Hunter Smith to punt the ball. After the Cowboys couldn't put together anything on the next possession either, the Colts forced the Cowboys to defend deep in their own territory again. At the end of the possession, Manning ended up throwing 4-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark, and the Colts had the lead once again. On the following possession, the Colts defense appeared fatigued and the Cowboys had the ball for over nine minutes straight ending with a touchdown by RB Marion Barber. After another Colts punt, the Cowboys once again marched down the field and Marion Barber once again had another rushing touchdown. With a little over six minutes remaining in the game, the Colts were down by a touchdown, and needed some production on offense fast. On the Colts' next and last possession, they got something cooking. After a 16-yard pass to Reggie Wayne and a 38-yard pass to Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning and the Colts had the ball at the Dallas 16 yard line. After a pass from Manning to Addai for 7 yards, the Colts handed the ball to Addai for a 1 yard gain, and then the Colts forced two straight passes to the endzone, on 3rd and 4th down, both of them incomplete. The Cowboys got the ball back with 2:59 left in the game; The Cowboys made 2 first downs, and ran out the clock.
The Cowboys scored all of their points in the second half after a first half that was full of turnovers.
Colts QB Peyton Manning went 20 of 39 for 254 passing yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, Cowboys QB Tony Romo was 19 of 23 with 226 passing yards and had one interception. Colts WR Reggie Wayne had 7 catches for 111 yards, and Cowboys RB Julius Jones rushed the football 22 times for 79 yards. Also of note, former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed two of his three field goals during the game.
Week 12: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Colts 21 Eagles 45
This Week 12 showdown between the Colts and Eagles was originally scheduled for 1:00 ET, but due to the NFL's "flexible-scheduling" system this year, the NFL moved the game to Sunday night at 8:15 ET. This was the Colts' third primetime game this year on NBC, and the Eagles' first.
The Colts opened up the game with a strong first possession. Their first drive ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by RB Joseph Addai. The Colts scored less than five minutes in the game. On the Eagles' first possession, they drove down as far as the Colts' 15 yard line, but K David Akers missed a 36 yard field goal at the end of the drive to set up the Colts for their next possession at their own 26 yard line. The Colts opened up with a run by Addai, and on the following play, Manning threw a deep pass to WR Reggie Wayne for 38 yards to place the ball at the Eagles' 36 yard line. Joseph Addai then followed that play with an 11 yard run, a 15 yard run, then a 10 yard touchdown run to put the Colts up by 14.
The Eagles eagerly tried to get back in the game with a pass from QB Jeff Garcia to WR Hank Baskett and Baskett threw it downfield to try to fool the Colts defense. However, the pass was intercepted by CB Nick Harper. The Colts then ran the ball repeatedly with the attack of RB Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai, and once again, Addai finished the drive with a 15 yard touchdown run, his third TD of the game. With 8:58 left in the half, Addai had 91 yards on 10 carries and 3 touchdowns.
On the Eagles' next possession, they looked to get something going on offense to keep up with the Colts' running attack. But, they ended up going three-and-out, and KR Terrence Wilkins brought the Dirk Johnson punt out to midfield. The Eagles then contained the Colts, and they went three-and-out also, so Hunter Smith punted the ball away for the Colts. Jeff Garcia then went on a passing spree, running backs Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter went running rampant, and all of a sudden, the Eagles were down to the Colts' 1 yard line. The drive eventually ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to TE L.J. Smith. On the Colts' next drive, combined with a couple passes and a 13-yard run by Dominic Rhodes, the Colts put K Adam Vinatieri in field goal range to get some more points before the end of the half. At the half, the Colts had a 17-point lead, 24-7.
On the first possession of the second half, the Eagles were forced to punt, and the Colts left off where the finished in the first half. They came out running fast with Addai and with swift passing by Manning. After rushes by Addai, catches by TE Ben Utecht, Addai, and TE Bryan Fletcher, Manning looked for Reggie Wayne again and found him in the endzone for a 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Colts up by 24. On the ensuing possession, the Eagles completed a plethora of short passes to the middle of the field, and ended the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to WR Reggie Brown. Then the Eagles forced the Colts to punt on their next possession. Philadelphia then went three-and-out and the Colts looked like they were going to complete a scoring drive, but a Manning pass intended for WR Marvin Harrison was intercepted by CB Lito Sheppard. Minutes later, Brian Westbrook sprung for a 6-yard touchdown run to cut the Colts' lead to 10 points, 31-21, with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter.
On the following possession, the Colts ran the ball 13 times with no passes and Joseph Addai had the last 8 carries on that drive including another 4-yard scamper, his fourth touchdown of the game. That touchdown also tied the Colts franchise record for the most rushing touchdowns in a single game.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Eagles were desperate to score some points, but while Jeff Garcia was deep in his own territory, he dropped back to pass and was hit by both DE Robert Mathis and DE Dwight Freeney. Mathis knocked the ball out of Garcia's hand right before his arm started going forwards and CB Kelvin Hayden picked up the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. The Colts were up by 24 points after that last score. On the next possession, the Eagles put in backup QB A.J. Feeley in place of Garcia, and Feeley ended up getting the football knocked out of his hand by Robert Mathis (his second forced fumble of the game) and the Colts recovered and ended up running out the clock to conclude the game.
Joseph Addai tied the NFL record for most touchdowns in a game by a rookie, with 4 touchdowns in this game. During this game, the Colts lost SS Antoine Bethea, TE Dallas Clark and OT Ryan Diem all to injuries in the first half, and they did not return.
Week 13: at Tennessee Titans
Colts 17 Titans 20
This game at the Tennessee Titans saw the return of two crucial players for the Colts: WR Brandon Stokley and FS Bob Sanders. After two false start penalties on the Colts' Jake Scott and Tarik Glenn, the Colts had to punt on their first possession of the game. The Titans also punted on their possession, so the Colts had the ball back with 8:19 left in the quarter. This drive for the Colts turned out for the worse. After a few runs by RB Joseph Addai and an 18-yard completion from QB Peyton Manning to TE Ben Utecht, Manning's next pass was intercepted by MLB Peter Sirmon at the Tennessee 35 yard line. Titans QB Vince Young responded by completing a 16-yard pass to former Colts TE Ben Hartsock. But on the following play, Young threw the ball deep down towards the endzone, and the ball was intercepted by Colts CB Jason David in the endzone. On the following possession, Peyton Manning threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to WR Marvin Harrison. That touchdown was the 100th time that Manning and Harrison hooked up for a passing touchdown.
Tennessee could not respond on the next possession, as kicker Craig Hentrich punted the ball to the Indianapolis 19 yard line. On the next possession for the Colts, Joseph Addai ran the ball eight times for 32 yards, and RB Dominic Rhodes ran the ball twice for 3 yards. The last run by Rhodes was a 2-yard touchdown run, and the Colts had the ball on that possession for over eight minutes. On the following possession, Tennessee marched all the way down to the Indianapolis 7 yard line, but could not get into the endzone and had to settle for a field goal by Hentrich. The Colts' next possession uncharacteristically ended abruptly when Peyton Manning's pass intended for TE Bryan Fletcher was intercepted by OLB Keith Bulluck with 31 seconds left in the half. 20 seconds later, Vince Young connected with WR Drew Bennett for a 20-yard touchdown pass to shrink the Colts' lead to 4 points. With 11 seconds left, the Titans' kickoff went out of bounds and the Colts had the ball at their own 40 yard line. On the following play, Manning hooked up with Bryan Fletcher for a 25-yard pass to the 35 yard line. The Colts brought out K Adam Vinatieri to attempt a 53-yard field goal, but the kicked stayed right and just missed the upright. At the half, the Colts were leading the Titans, 14-10.
The Titans got the ball back first in the third quarter and came out with a running start. Vince Young came out running the ball again, and the Titans had the ball down on the Indianapolis 15 yard line, but Vince Young was intercepted by SS Marlin Jackson in the endzone. Jackson brought out the ball to the 24 yard line of the Titans, but after a penalty the ball was placed at the 12 yard line. Peyton Manning came out on the next drive firing. After completions to Marvin Harrison and Dominic Rhodes, he threw a pass to Reggie Wayne for 17 yards to put the ball at the 47 yard line of the Titans. But after a drop by WR Brandon Stokley on third down, the Colts had to punt the ball with 4:24 left in the third quarter. On the Titans' second possession of the half, Young scrambled for runs of 15 yards and 14 yards, both for first downs. At the end of the third quarter, the Titans had the ball at the 20 yard line. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, after a run by RB Travis Henry, Vince Young made a pass attempt to FB Ahmard Hall and Hall went 15 yards to place the ball at the Indianapolis 8 yard line. On third down and goal, Vince Young threw a pass towards the slanting WR Brandon Jones and Jones caught the pass for a touchdown to put Tennessee up by three points, their first lead of the game.
On the Colts' first play of their next possession, Manning threw a perfect pass to Bryan Fletcher for a 26-yard completion. However, that would be the only production on offense, and the Colts were forced to punt. The Titans reached the Colts' 42 yard line, but also had to punt after a dropped pass on third down and 7. After an Addai run for 6 yards, Peyton threw to the middle of the field to Marvin Harrison for a first down. On the following play, Peyton Manning looked to Harrison again, as Harrison had CB Adam Jones and FS Lamont Thompson beat deep and Peyton hit Marvin for a 60-yard completion to put the ball at the Tennessee 12 yard line. On the following play, Manning threw to Marvin again for 8 yards. After a Ben Utecht catch in the endzone was negated by an offensive pass-interference penalty, the Colts ran out of downs, and Adam Vinatieri made a 20-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 2:38 left in the game.
On Tennessee's insuing possession, Vince Young and Travis Henry still kept running the ball successfully. After a 9-yard run by Young, and an 18-yard pass from Young to WR Bobby Wade, the Titans had the ball at the Colts' 41 yard line with 31 seconds to go. After a short pass for 4 yards and an incomplete pass, the Titans had one last shot at a 60-yard field goal to win the game. Kicker Rob Bironas had very high winds at his back and he made the 60-yard field goal with a lot of help from wind. He cleared the crossbar by almost 3 yards, and had the game-winning field goal for the Titans for the second straight week. The Titans moved to 5-7 while the Colts went to 10-2 on the season.
Week 14: at Jacksonville Jaguars
Colts 17 Jaguars 44
The Colts came into this game three games ahead of the Jaguars in the AFC South standings, and with a win in this game, the Colts can clinch a playoff spot and the AFC South Championship for the fourth straight year.
On the Colts' first possession of the game, QB Peyton Manning came out firing. The first play of the game was a 42-yard completion from Manning to WR Marvin Harrison. However, after a dropped pass in the endzone for an almost-sure touchdown by WR Brandon Stokley, the Colts were forced to punt. The Jaguars, on the other hand, came out running and with the running back tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars were in business. On the first play of the drive, Fred Taylor ran up the middle for 76 yards down to the Colts' 18 yard line. On the following play Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 18 yards for the first score of the game. Jacksonville now took an early 7-0 lead. The Colts went three-and-out on their following possession, and the Jaguars had an opportunity to extend the lead. On fourth-and-10 on the Colts' 36 yard line, instead of kicking a field goal with the wind at their backs, the Jaguars elected to go for it on fourth down, but could not convert and the Colts took over on downs on the 36 yard line. The Colts took advantage of the Jacksonville miscue and got down to the Jaguars 23 yard line, but were forced to attempt a field goal. Kicker Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal was good, and the Colts were on the scoreboard, 7-3 with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars got the ball back on their on 44 yard line, and wanted to continue their run game successes, but on this drive, the Colts stopped them defensively and forced the Jacksonville to bring out Josh Scobee to attempt a 48-yard field goal. Scobee missed the field goal wide-right, and the Colts took over on their own 38 yard line with 3:53 left in the first quarter. After the Colts only could run 4 plays, they were forced to punt. Hunter Smith's punt was blocked by Jorge Cordova and Jacksonville had the ball on the Indianapolis 21 yard line. After the Jaguars moved the ball down to the 13 yard line, QB David Garrard threw towards the back of the endzone, and his pass was intercepted by DB Matt Giordano, Giordano's first of his career. The Colts took over on their own 20 yard line and the Colts marched the ball down the field. On that drive, they lost Antoine Bethea to a shoulder injury, and he would not return. The Colts finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Dominic Rhodes to put the Colts in the lead 10-7 with 8:21 left in the half.
On the Jaguars' ensuing possession, they ran 5 plays for 81 yards including the last play, a 21-yard scamper for a touchdown by RB Fred Taylor. The Jaguars now had the lead back 14-10, and they had more momentum on their side as SS Gerald Sensabaugh intercepted a Peyton Manning pass that was intended for Reggie Wayne. The Jaguars took advantage of the Indianapolis turnover and Maurice Jones-Drew ran for another touchdown, this one for 48 yards. The Colts then went three-and-out on their following possession, and the Jaguars had 25 seconds to put together a scoring drive starting on the Colts 38 yard line. Jacksonville got down to the 30 yard line, and Josh Scobee once again came out and kicked a 48-yard field goal, this one went through the uprights and the Jaguars had the lead at the half, 24-10.
In the third quarter, Jacksonville got the ball first, and Maurice Jones-Drew came through for them again. This time on special teams, as he ran back an Adam Vinatieri kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to put the Jaguars up by 21 points. The Colts went three-and-out again on their next possession and the next drive for the Jaguars was all Jones-Drew. He ran the ball four times and put Scobee in field goal position again. Scobee's next field goal was also good, this one out from 34 yards. The Colts received the ball from Jacksonville with 11:00 left in the third quarter and down by 24 points, their biggest deficit of the entire season.
Indianapolis went three-and-out on their following possession (the third time in a row they went three-and-out), and Jacksonville once again had a chance to extend their lead. But, the Jaguars could not get anything going on offense as they had to punt also. With 7:22 left in the third quarter, Peyton Manning took the game into his own hands. He threw the ball 9 times out of 10 on their next drive, and 7 of those passes were incomplete. The Colts had the ball on the Jacksonville 44 yard line, and on fourth-and-10, they decided to go for it. But, Manning's pass intended for Marvin Harrison was incomplete and Jacksonville took over near midfield. RB Alvin Pearman took over for Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew as Taylor had troubles with his hamstring, and Jones-Drew was dehydrated and fatigued. The Jaguars lined up Josh Scobee for another field goal, and he nailed the 46-yarder. Scobee was now 3 of 4 on field goals in the game, and Jacksonville now had a 27 point lead, their biggest of the game.
The Colts' next possession was much more like the usual Indianapolis Colts. Manning threw the ball 9 times and only 2 of those passes fell incomplete. The drive ended with a Manning 1-yard touchdown run up the middle, and the Colts had reduced the Jacksonville lead to 20 with 11:15 left in the game. Jacksonville spent over 7 minutes on their insuing possession, and it ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Alvin Pearman, the third-string running back. With less than 4 minutes to go in the game, Colts Coach Tony Dungy kept Peyton Manning in the game instead of pulling him out and putting in backup QB Jim Sorgi with the game well out of reach. Peyton came out firing again, throwing the ball on all 9 plays. Manning's passes fell incomplete 5 times on that drive, and the Colts could not muster up anything on offense after they reached the 31 yard line of Jacksonville, and the Colts turned the ball over on downs. Jacksonville received the ball with a little over two minutes remaining in the game and they ran out the clock.
The big stories of the game were the Jaguars' successes with the running game (the Colts gave up over 350 yards on the ground good enough for the second worse performance since the AFL/NFL merger), the Colts' difficulties stopping the run, and how the Indianapolis receivers dropped 8 passes. The Colts moved to 10-3, losing first place in the AFC, while the Jaguars improved to 8-5.
The Colts lost SS Antoine Bethea to a shoulder injury, and he would not return. The Colts moved to 10-3, losing first place in the AFC, while the Jaguars improved to 8-5.
Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Colts 34 Bengals 16
On the day before this game, December 17, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans, and that loss for the Jaguars clinched a playoff spot for the Colts, and the AFC South Division Championship also. The Colts have won four consecutive AFC South Division Championships now.
Hoping to rebound from their embarrassing road loss to the Jaguars, the Colts went home for a Monday Night fight with the Cincinnati Bengals. In the first quarter, Indianapolis struck first with kicker Adam Vinatieri nailing a 30-yard field goal. The Bengals would respond with kicker Shayne Graham getting a 27-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Colts began their breakout with QB Peyton Manning completing a 4-yard TD pass to WR Marvin Harrison. Even though Cincinnati responded with 12-yard TD run by RB Rudi Johnson, Indianapolis responded with Manning completing a 3-yard TD pass to Harrison. In the third quarter, the Bengals got Graham to kick a 30-yard field goal, the Colts continued their power with Manning completing a 1-yard TD pass to Harrison. Afterwards, Manning would complete an 18-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Wayne. In the fourth quarter, Cincinnati's only response was Graham's 28-yard field goal. Afterwards, Vinatieri closed out the game with a 44-yard field goal. With the win, the Colts improved to 11-3.
Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 29 of 36 for 282 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Bengals QB Carson Palmer was 14 of 28 for 176 passing yards. Palmer also fumbled the football four times in this game. Colts DE Dwight Freeney forced three fumbles in the game and also had three sacks on Carson Palmer.
Week 16: at Houston Texans
Colts 24 Texans 27
Coming off a primetime victory over Cincinnati, the Colts flew to Reliant Stadium for an AFC South rematch with the Houston Texans. Heading into this game, Indianapolis had never lost a game to the Texans, winning their first 9 games.
In the first quarter, the Colts got an early shock as RB Ron Dayne got a 3-yard TD run and a 6-yard TD run. Indianapolis would respond with QB Peyton Manning completing a 37-yard TD pass WR Marvin Harrison. In the second quarter, the Colts tied the game with Manning completing a 9-yard TD pass to WR Aaron Moorehead. However, Houston reclaimed its lead with QB David Carr's 3-yard TD pass to RB Vonta Leach. In the third quarter, Indianapolis crept closer with kicker Adam Vinatieri getting a 33-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, the Texans responded with kicker Kris Brown's 42-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Colts tied the game with Manning hooking up with Harrison again on a 7-yard TD pass. However, Houston managed to pull off a huge upset with Brown's game-winning 48-yard field goal, giving Indianapolis their first loss against them. With the loss, the Colts fell to 11-4.
Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 21 of 27 for 205 yards passing with three touchdowns and Texans QB David Carr finished with 163 passing yards on completing 16 of 23 passes with one touchdown. Rookie RB Joseph Addai ran the ball 15 times for 100 yards and former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne finished the game with 153 rushing yards on 32 carries.
Week 17: vs. Miami Dolphins
Colts 24 Dolphins 27
Following their first-ever loss to the Texans, the Colts wrapped up the regular season at home against the Miami Dolphins. In the first quarter, the Dolphins scored first with kicker Olindo Mare nailing a 28-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, Indianapolis took the lead with QB Peyton Manning completing a 2-yard TD pass to DT Dan Klecko. Miami would respond with Mare kicking a 38-yard field goal. Fortunately, the Colts struck right back with Manning getting an 11-yard TD run. Afterwards, kicker Adam Vinatieri would nail a 46-yard field goal. In the third quarter, the Dolphins managed to get another field goal from Mare (from 42 yards out), yet Indianapolis continued its domination with Vinatieri kicking a 34-yard field goal. Mare would kick yet another Miami field goal (from 27 yards out). In the fourth quarter, the Dolphins got yet another field goal as Mare kicked one from 34 yards out, yet the Colts managed to wrap things up with Manning completing a 27-yard TD pass to WR Marvin Harrison. Afterwards, Miami finished the game with its only touchdown of the day, as QB Cleo Lemon completed a 6-yard TD pass to TE Randy McMichael. With the win, Indianapolis wrapped up the regular season at 12-4 and the AFC's #3 seed.
AFC Wild-Card Playoffs: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Colts 23 Chiefs 8
Entering the NFL Playoffs as the AFC's third seed, the Colts began their playoff run against the sixth-seeded Kansas City Chiefs at home, where they finished 8-0 during the regular season. In the first half, the Colts defense started off playing exceptionally well, holding the Chiefs offense without a first down the entire half. On offense, K Adam Vinatieri had all 9 of the Colts' first half points converting field goals of 48-yards, 19-yards, and 50-yards out. In the third quarter, Indianapolis continued where they left off in the first half with rookie running back Joseph Addai running into the end zone for a touchdown from 6 yards out. Kansas City's only scoring drive of the game came with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The drive concluded with QB Trent Green completing a 6-yard touchdown pass to TE Tony Gonzalez, along with a successful two-point conversion pass to FB Kris Wilson. In the fourth quarter, with 10:16 remaining, the Colts scored another touchdown, this one a 5-yard pass from QB Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne.
The Colts' rush defense held Chiefs RB Larry Johnson to just 32 yards on 13 carries and 29 receiving yards on 5 receptions. The Colts also outgained the Chiefs in total yards 435 to 126 and in first downs 28 to 7. Both teams committed three turnovers, Peyton Manning threw a season-high three interceptions, two of them picked up by former Patriot Ty Law. Manning finished the game 30 of 38 for 268 passing yards with 1 touchdown. Trent Green completed 14 of his 24 passes for 107 total passing yards with one touchdown also. RB Joseph Addai had 25 carries for 122 rushing yards with 1 touchdown. The Colts defense also forced two fumbles by Trent Green and also sacked him four times.
With the win, the Colts advanced to the AFC Divisional Round to face the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
AFC Divisional Playoff Game: at Baltimore Ravens
Colts 15 Ravens 6
Making their first playoff appearance in Baltimore since relocating to Indianapolis 23 years earlier and coming off their win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Colts flew to M&T Bank Stadium for their Divisional Round playoff game against the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens and their #1-ranked defense. In the first quarter, Indianapolis scored first with K Adam Vinatieri making a 23-yard field goal, followed by another field goal, this second one from 42 yards out. In the second quarter, the Ravens responded with K Matt Stover converting a 40-yard field goal to reduce the Colts' lead to 3 points. Afterwards, Vinatieri would boot a career-long 51-yard field goal with 6:00 left in the half to give the Colts a 9-3 lead. In the third quarter, the Colts continued with providing Adam Vinatieri with more opportunities to score points off of field goals. He made his fourth field goal from 48 yards out, and also made NFL history with that kick. He surpassed Gary Anderson's mark of 32 career field goals made in the postseason.  After Vinatieri's last of his five field goals that he made this game, he had made 34 field goals in his postseason career. With the win, the Colts improved their overall record to 14-4 this season and would advance to the AFC Championship Game to play against the New England Patriots at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 15 of 30 with 170 passing yards and two interceptions, while Ravens QB Steve McNair completed 18 of his 29 passes for 173 total passing yards and also had two interceptions. The Colts' 32nd-ranked rushing defense allowed only 83 total rushing yards this game, and proved that their defense has improved dramatically from the regular season.
AFC Championship Game: vs. New England Patriots
Colts 38 Patriots 34
Coming off their Divisional road win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts came back to the dome for the AFC Championship Game against the fourth-seeded New England Patriots, who were fresh off of their upset of the top-seeded San Diego Chargers.
After a pair of punts, the Patriots scored on their second drive of the game. However, the play did not happen the way they planned it. Patriots QB Tom Brady fumbled the handoff to RB Laurence Maroney, the ball started rolling towards the goal line, went through a few pairs of Colts defenders' hands, and G Logan Mankins fell on it for a touchdown. The touchdown was one of two touchdowns in this game by offensive linemen. Indianapolis spent over six minutes on their next possession that resulted in a 42-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri. On the Patriots' first possession of the second quarter, they had no trouble moving the ball downfield and eventually scored on a 7-yard touchdown run by RB Corey Dillon, and the Colts were looking to score quickly to get momentum on their side. However, on the second play of the drive, Colts QB Peyton Manning threw a pass that was intercepted by CB Asante Samuel and he ran that back for a touchdown to put the Colts down 21-3 with a little over nine minutes left in the half. The Colts closed out the half with another field goal by Vinatieri to reduce the Patriots' lead to 15 points.
The first possession of the third quarter belonged to the Colts, and they spent almost seven minutes on that drive, which ended with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Peyton Manning. The Colts were now only down by one score, 21-13. After the Patriots went three-and-out on their next possession, the Colts did not waste time before scoring. Within three minutes, Peyton Manning threw a screen pass to DT Dan Klecko for a 1-yard touchdown to bring the Colts within two points of New England. Klecko was signed this offseason by the Colts after he was released by ironically, the Patriots. After that touchdown catch, the Colts elected to go for the two-point conversion, and Manning completed a pass in the end zone to WR Marvin Harrison to tie the game at 21. The Patriots responded on the insuing possession with a 6-yard touchdown pass to WR Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone. The Colts countered that touchdown with a score of their own, this one by C Jeff Saturday. He ended up with the football in the end zone when RB Dominic Rhodes fumbled at the 1 yard line. The game was now tied 28-28 with 13:24 left in the game. After punts were exchanged, the Patriots broke the tie when K Stephen Gostkowski made a 28-yard field goal to give the Patriots the lead by 3 points. Adam Vinatieri made another field goal for the Colts right after Gostkowski's previous field goal to tie the game at 31, but Gostkowski then converted another field goal with 3:49 left in the game to put the Patriots back on top, 34-31. After the teams exchanged punts again, the Colts had one final opportunity to take the lead with 2:17 left in the game, and the ball on their own 20 yard line. After two passes completed to WR Reggie Wayne totaling 25 yards, and a 32-yard completion to TE Bryan Fletcher, the Colts had the ball on the Patriots 11-yard line. Three plays later, rookie RB Joseph Addai ran right up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Colts up by 4 points, and give them their first lead of the game, 38-34. The Patriots had exactly 1:00 to put together a winning drive, but on the drive's fourth play, Colts CB Marlin Jackson intercepted Tom Brady with less than 20 seconds to play and he quickly dropped to the ground so that there would be no risk of a fumble, perhaps remembering what happened to the Chargers when they played the Patriots the previous week. Jackson sealed the win for the Colts, and their 18-point comeback was the biggest in Conference title-game history.
With the win, Indianapolis improved their overall record to 15-4 this season and would move on to face the National Football Conference Champion Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium.
Super Bowl XLI: vs. Chicago Bears
Colts 29 Bears 17
Two weeks after their record-breaking comeback in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, the Colts flew to Dolphin Stadium for Super Bowl XLI against the NFC Champion Chicago Bears. Bears CB/KR/PR Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, the first time that has ever happened in Super Bowl history. After the extra point by Robbie Gould, Chicago had an early 7-0 lead. On the following possession for the Colts, QB Peyton Manning threw an interception on seventh play from scrimmage. His pass intended for WR Marvin Harrison was intercepted by FS Chris Harris and the Bears had the ball on their own 35 yard line. After Chicago went three-and-out on that possession, the Colts were ready to even the score. The drive ended with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne, but punter Hunter Smith mishandled the snap on the extra point and kicker Adam Vinatieri could not convert the PAT. However, Chicago would answer right back with a score of their own. QB Rex Grossman completed a 4-yard pass in the end zone to WR Muhsin Muhammad to increase Chicago's lead over Indianapolis, 14-6. After a Colts punt, the Bears had the ball on their own 48 yard line. On the second play of the drive, FS Bob Sanders caused RB Cedric Benson to fumble the football, and the Colts recovered. But, the Colts went three-and-out and could not take advantage of the turnover. After a Bears punt, the Colts spent four minutes on their next drive that ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. There were five turnovers in the first quarter, a first in Super Bowl history. This was most likely due to the rain and poor conditions that both teams were playing in.
In the second quarter, the Colts' next possession resulted in a touchdown by RB Dominic Rhodes and gave the Colts the lead for the first time in the game, 16-14. In the second half, the Colts got right back to work as Adam Vinatieri made another field goal, this one from 24-yards out, to make the score 19-14 in their favor. On the following Colts possession, Vinatieri came through yet again and converted a 20-yard field goal to put the Colts up by 8 points. The Bears immediately responded with a field goal of their own, but they would not score any more points in the half. QB Rex Grossman threw two crucial interceptions in the second half, and one that was returned 56-yards for a touchdown by DB Kelvin Hayden. Four plays after Grossman's first interception, he was intercepted again, this time by FS Bob Sanders. Both interceptions thrown by Grossman were deep passes that were not thrown accurately.
The Colts defeated the Bears 29-17, and finished the season with an overall record of 16-4 and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy became the very first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. The game's MVP was Colts QB Peyton Manning, who finished the game 25 of 38 for 247 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rookie RB Joseph Addai finished the game with 19 carries for 77 yards rushing and tied the record for most catches in Super Bowl history with 10. RB Dominic Rhodes had 113 rushing yards and one touchdown on 21 carries also.
19 Johnny Unitas
Not to be forgotten
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