Colts Playoff Tickets
January 3, 2011 by staff
And it looks like they are ready to defend their AFC championship, too.
Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes, the defense limited Chris Johnson to 39 yards rushing and the always-clutch Adam Vinatieri kicked a 43-yard field goal with time expired Sunday to give a 23-20 victory over the Colts Tennessee Titans. They won their seventh – and most improbable – AFC South title in eight seasons.
“We know what they were and cons and how difficult it was to overcome that and win the division,” owner Jim Irsay said, “it is very special.”
For the Colts (10-6), there were many reasons to celebrate.
They tied the NFL record of Dallas nine consecutive playoff appearances, Series 1975-83.
Manning broke the record for a long time Gene Upshaw for most consecutive starts to open a career (208) and set a new mark for completions in a season (450), established a few hours earlier by Drew Brees. The league MVP four times also threw his 398th and 399th career touchdown passes, falling slightly to join Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only club member 400.
Reggie Wayne caught nine passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, passing Hall of Famer Raymond Berry in second in franchise history with his 69th career touchdown reception.
Indy became only the third team since 2000 to lose a Super Bowl and return to the playoffs the following year.
In addition, the Colts did all this despite 17 players on the injured list.
The reward: a Saturday night showdown with the New York Jets in a rematch game AFC title last year. They also have the opportunity to host a championship game second consecutive year as No. 3 seeds surprise, thanks to Kansas City 31-10 loss to Oakland.
“I’ll wait until Tuesday to enter this (the Jets),” Manning said. “We just kind of find what time we play and we play and get started on them this week.”
Yes, the Colts had a chance.
After losing to Dallas on Dec. 5, they were 6-6 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Thus, coach Jim Caldwell told his players they had four straight wins to get him back.
They did, barely, but I have a little help along the way.
Moments after Dominic Rhodes lost a fumble and Tennessee he ran back to the Colts 37, Houston 34-17 victory over Jacksonville Final – insure the Colts the division crown. But they still need to win to avoid a possible second round clash at New England.
Two plays later, Kerry Collins fumbled the snap and Robert Mathis recovered at the Colts 38. Manning needed only five plays for the Colts Vinatieri in range, then waited patiently next to the official as the clock ticked down. He called timeout with three seconds to play.
Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in league history, wasted no time in adding another line to his legacy, raising his arms after the 43-pole crossed.
“They are never the same and you do not take lightly,” said Vinatieri, who was 3 for 3 and matched a season long of 48 yards in the first quarter. “We just had the opportunity at the end to help our team win this match. It was a great victory, an important victory for us. We’ll take it. ”
For Tennessee (6-10), it was fine for a season gone awry.
The Titans were 5-2 in late October, then lost eight of nine and now face uncertainty after a public feud between Vince Young and coach Jeff Fisher to the future of so much doubt.
Fisher told the television crew that he expected a quick decision must be made regarding her employment status and later said he hoped to return next season.
“I’m under contract for another year so we’ll see,” said Fisher. “We’ll come back and have medical examinations wrap-up tomorrow and we’ll begin our assessment process.”
The Colts have won it the same way they had the previous three – running efficiently and stopping the run.
“They have been playing better the last two weeks,” said Collins. “They have certainly improved since the last time we played. You can not come here and say we will beat them to the ball for 150 yards. It does not happen like that. ”
Meanwhile, Indy surpassed 100 yards rushing for the third straight game and Manning is playing as usual. He completed 27 of 41 for 264 yards and probably threw for a record 64th game of 300 yards had it not been for a handful of drops.
Towards the end of the first half, Manning hooked up with Wayne on a bubble screen, and the receiver sprinting on the right side and in the end zone for a 7-yard score to 13-6.
Collins fist back in the second half, throwing a 21-yard pass to Kenny Britt to tie the game.
Manning responded with a perfect 30-yard over the shoulder pass to Pierre Garcon for 20-13, then Collins tied it again at the reception of 15 yards to Johnson at 20-20 with 4: 18 left in the third quarter.
Neither team scored again until Vinatieri field goal in the end.
“I think it shows the will of this team and our fight,” defensive end Dwight Freeney of the Colts said. “It does not matter if we are 6-6 and we win our last four, we must do. If we win the last seven years, we will try to do. It’s just this type of us and that we have been for some time. ”
Notes: Collins was 28 of 39 for 300 yards with two touchdowns and passed for 11 John Unitas on the career passing list. Collins has 40,441 meters. Unitas had 40,239. … Fisher coached game of his career 273rd Session, including the playoffs, past Joe Gibbs for seventh on the career list for most games coached with one team. … Manning finished the season 4700 with a career-high passing yards.
(This version corrects the Colts 23, Titans 20. Fixed Titans record to 6-10 in paragraph 20.)
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