Indianapolis stays close in chase for AFC South
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – So much for the worst slump of Peyton Manning’s career.
Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped their three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans 30-28 on Thursday night to stay just one-half game back in the AFC South.
“Hopefully, we can sort of build off this win,” Manning said. “Nobody likes losing three in a row.”
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical struggles behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn’t intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
Back where he starred in college at the University of Tennessee, Manning nearly had a third touchdown pass but rookie receiver Blair White broke up a pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone.
“I was throwing to Reggie. I can assure you I was throwing to Reggie,” Manning said. “But like I said, that’s part of the learning process.”
The Colts (7-6) haven’t lost four straight since 2001 when their five-game slide prompted Jim Mora’s famous rant about the playoffs. Now the only NFL team to reach the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons is back on track and will defend its AFC South title if it wins out.
“I think we’re in a four-game playoffs and this was a playoff game tonight,” Manning said.
Tennessee (5-8) has lost six straight to drop 21/2 games behind Jacksonville (7-5) in the division with three to play. The Titans can blame themselves for mistakes that led to each of the Colts’ first three touchdowns, including two defensive penalties on third-and-goal and a high snap over the punter’s head.