QB takes responsibility for INTs

Updated: January 18, 2004, 9:05 PM ET
Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Peyton Manning angrily slapped his thighs and helmet, looking down field in disbelief as another pass was intercepted.

Peyton Manning 2004 Playoff Stats
First two games vs. Patriots
Attempts 56 47
Completions 44 23
Pct. 78.6 48.9
Yards 681 237
TDs 8 1
INTs 0 4
Rating 156.9 35.5

How could this be? How could such a perfect postseason end so miserably for the league's co-MVP?

Manning had no answers for the New England Patriots' smothering defense in a 24-14 loss in the AFC championship game.

The Indianapolis quarterback threw four interceptions, nearly had a fifth, and was sacked four times on a slippery, snowy field, dropping him to 0-5 at New England.

"I needed to do my part well today and I didn't do it," Manning said. "I feel personally accountable for it and responsible for it."

He completed only 23 of 47 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown, and his 35.5 passer rating was easily a season low. In the waning seconds of the game, Patriots fans mockingly chanted "M-V-P, M-V-P."

Manning's almost flawless play in Indianapolis' two playoff victories helped put the Colts in their first conference title game since the 1995 season.

He had thrown eight postseason touchdown passes, with no interceptions and a nearly perfect 156.9 passer rating in beating Denver 41-10 and Kansas City 38-31.

But he wasn't the same Sunday, throwing four interceptions for the first time since Nov. 25, 2001. He showed his disgust by slapping his head at times and stomping off the field as if he were a little kid.

Afterward, Manning was subdued.

"I made some bad throws and made some bad decisions," he said.

New England's defense helped cause the problems.

The Patriots shifted while Manning tried to read the defenses. Indianapolis never figured it out.

The Colts, who had scored on all but four possessions in their two playoff victories, managed only two scoring drives -- one at the start of the second half, the other in the waning minutes when Manning threw for his only touchdown of the day.

Initially, it looked as if Manning and the Colts would continue their high-scoring ways when he led them on a 68-yard march on their opening possession. But Manning's day suddenly turned bad when Rodney Harrison picked off a third-down pass intended for Marcus Pollard in the end zone.

Then things got even worse.

On the Colts' next play, Manning tried to force the ball to Marvin Harrison. Ty Law made the first of his three interceptions with a leaping, almost one-handed grab, and New England capitalized with a field goal to make it 13-0.

"We all played bad," center Jeff Saturday said. "You can look around the offense and all of us played a poor game."

Not all the mistakes were Manning's fault. He tried to get the Colts back in the game just before halftime, but Marvin Harrison fumbled it away.

"That's football," wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "Sometimes you play great, sometimes you don't. It's not all on Peyton's hands."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press