By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
September 12, 2005
BALTIMORE (AP) -- An outstanding performance by the Indianapolis defense enabled Peyton Manning to take his time before finding a way to get the offense in working order.
The Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, Manning threw two second-half touchdown passes, and Indianapolis cruised past the Baltimore Ravens 24-7 Sunday night.
Manning could generate only three points in the first half, but it didn't matter because Baltimore wouldn't end up scoring until the game's final minute.
``Our defense had to play well until we figured out the looks they were going to give us,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said. ``We just had to hang in there.''
Indianapolis scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 17-0 lead, and the Colts coasted behind a defense that received few headlines last year while Manning threw an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes for an offense that amassed a league-leading 522 points. ``So often, our offense gets a lot of credit,'' defensive tackle Corey Simon said. ``They've done great things, but it's time for the defense to get a name for ourselves and play hard and be just as good as our offense.''
The Ravens lost quarterback Kyle Boller, who hyperextended his right big toe while being sacked by Larry Triplett in the third quarter with the score 17-0. Boller finished 15-for-23 for 141 yards and an interception.
``I've never had any foot problems before. It's concerning because it's my plant foot,'' Boller said.
Ravens coach Brian Billick said the injury ``is more severe than it sounds, but I'll have to defer to the doctors to see how bad it is.''
Boller's replacement, Anthony Wright, completed 19 of 31 passes for 214 yards and two interceptions in his first game since 2003. His 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Wilcox with 13 seconds left ruined the Colts' bid for their first shutout since a 41-0 rout of Miami on Dec. 14, 1997.
Manning went 21-for-36 for 254 yards and no interceptions, and Marvin Harrison had six catches for 69 yards.
``We stuck to our plan and it worked,'' Manning said. ``We just had to keep plugging and plugging, and we got into a little groove in the second half.'' The defense, on the other hand, was exceptional from the outset. Cato June returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 2:39 left, and the Colts limited Jamal Lewis to 48 yards rushing.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, many of the 70,501 in attendance -- the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Baltimore -- headed for the exits.
Baltimore's Matt Stover missed field goals of 38, 47 and 45 yards. He missed three all last year.
``I look at misses as a turnover and momentum changer,'' Stover said. ``I apologize to the city of Baltimore for the performance.''
Stover's second miss, on the Ravens' first possession of the third quarter, came with Indianapolis up 3-0.
The Colts then took advantage of a key penalty during a 63-yard drive that ended in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Harrison, who got behind Chris McAlister in the right corner of the end zone. The penalty, against Dale Carter for putting a hand to the face of receiver Brandon Stokley, occurred on a third-and-8 from the Indianapolis 39.
Instead of punting, Indianapolis kept moving.
It was the 83rd time Manning and Harrison have hooked up for a touchdown, two behind Steve Young and Jerry Rice as the most prolific TD duo in NFL history.
On their next series, the Colts covered 71 yards in four plays, going up 17-0 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Ben Utecht. It was Utecht's first catch in the pros.
``If we keep doing what we plan on doing, we're going to get our plays,'' Manning said. ``We finally got the shot to Marvin down the right sideline. We got the play to Utecht down the middle.''
Held in check by an aggressive Baltimore defense for much of the first half, the Colts took a 3-0 halftime lead on a 20-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt with 15 seconds left. The 54-yard drive appeared stopped when Will Demps made an end zone interception, but Terrell Suggs was offside on the play.
McAlister also dropped a potential interception on the play before the field goal.
``No sacks, no turnovers,'' McAlister said. ``That's not our type of football.''
Notes Lewis said he broke his finger, and Ravens S Ed Reed bruised a leg muscle. ... Stover last missed three field goals in one game in 1998. ... Colts LB Gary Brackett had two interceptions, equaling his total for the 2004 season.