Maybe now, after routing the New England Patriots 40-21 on
Monday night, they'll admit this could be a super season.
Manning shrugged off his 0-7 record at Foxborough with an
intelligent dissection of the two-time defending champions. Aided
by star running back Edgerrin James' 104 yards on 34 carries, and
100-yard receiving games from Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne,
Manning kept the Colts perfect through eight games, the NFL's only
Instead of concentrating on this game the way much of the nation
was, Manning spent his bye week watching brother Eli quarterback
the Giants against Washington, then attending a Halloween party
thrown by Eli. Peyton's getup: Elvis.
"Nobody recognized it was me, either," he said with a hardy
laugh -- perhaps the first time he's ever smiled after a game in
Massachusetts. "I guess my secret is out."
Whatever secret formula the Patriots held against Indianapolis
wasn't evident this time. Manning believed jumping in front was
"We wanted to execute and get a lead on this team. We haven't
had a lead on this team in a long time," Manning said. "The idea
is to try to dictate to the defense."
While the Patriots have struggled mightily with injuries, an
undependable running game and a leaky defense, their hex over the
Colts was the major theme. But the Patriots (4-4) were the inferior
"We got our butts kicked tonight," Brady said in a short
statement before hustling out of a news conference.
New England still leads the AFC East, which doesn't put them
within shouting distance of the Colts, who looked mature, savvy and
resourceful, all elements they have lacked against the Pats in
The last time Indianapolis was here, in January, it managed all
of three points in a divisional playoff game. This time, the Colts'
vastly upgraded defense hit harder and forced the pace, while the
offense was versatile and unflappable.
"I think we are more of a team and kind of feed off each
other," Manning said. "It's definitely the best camaraderie we've
had since I've been here eight years."
Manning was 28-of-37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He
guided the Colts, who are 5-0 on the road, to scores on seven of
eight possessions. Indy didn't punt until the final 2 minutes and
scored its most points ever against the Patriots.
The Colts, who have downplayed their great start this season,
were so skillful this night they even forced Bill Belichick into
some desperate measures. After Daniel Graham turned a tight end
screen into a 31-yard touchdown midway in the third quarter, New
England's coach ordered an onside kick. It was recovered by the
Colts' Joseph Jefferson, who advanced it to the Patriots 22.
Indianapolis managed only Mike Vanderjagt's 35-yard field goal,
and Belichick remained emboldened. The Patriots went for a
fourth-and-4 at the Indy 43, but Brady threw too low for David
"It's pitiful. It's embarrassing," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin
said. "We've got to get it right and we've got to get it right
"They showed why they're pretty much the best team in the
Vanderjagt added a 20-yard field goal before Manning capped it
with an on-the-run throw that descended directly into Harrison's
hands in the end zone despite tight coverage by Asante Samuel.
Harrison had nine catches for 128 yards and Wayne had nine for
124. The Colts held the ball for 36:41.
The offensive showcase began immediately when Manning hit
Harrison for 48 yards, then threw him a fade pass in the right
corner of the end zone over Samuel for a 1-yard touchdown.
"That play to Marvin was really big," Manning said.
New England tied it on a 16-yard TD catch by Super Bowl MVP
Deion branch, but James' 2-yard run made it 14-7.
Nearing the end of the half, New England unnerved Manning for
perhaps the only time with a blitz. Manning unwisely threw off his
back foot to avoid a sack and Mike Vrabel picked it off at the
Using the hurry-up offense to perfection, Manning took up nearly
all the remaining 2:07 on a nine-play, 73-yard drive. He capped it
by hitting Wayne with a precise pass into the left corner of the
end zone for a 10-yard TD just 9 seconds before halftime, making it
After New England held the ball a mere 29 seconds after the
second-half kickoff, Manning engineered an 11-play, 60-yard series
highlighted by the two-time MVP's 18-yard scramble on third-and-5.
Dominic Rhodes ran in from the 4.
Not even the second game for Tedy Bruschi, New England's Pro
Bowl linebacker returning from a mild stroke, could help the
Patriots this night. Not against a Colts team that no longer can
play it low-key.
The win made Colts coach Tony Dungy 51-0 when his team has
led by at least 14 points. ... Brady lost to the Colts for the
first time in seven meetings. He finished 22-of-33 for 265 yards.