Manning throws for 319, Colts beat Titans 30-28
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He’s just fine, thank you very much.
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 a half-game back in the AFC South.
“Nobody likes losing three in a row,” Manning said. “That’s new for us. Somebody asked me if we were in a slump. I said, ‘I’ve been on an 8½-year hitting streak.’”
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical slump behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn’t intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters, beating the Titans for a fourth straight time. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
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 postseason 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 2½ games behind Jacksonville 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.
“Every time we play the Colts, it’s been the same thing,” safety Chris Hope said. “By the time we figure out we can play with them and compete with them, we run out of time. It’s been the same story the last few times we’ve played them.”
The Titans did break out of their scoring slump, ending a 14-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown when Chris Johnson finished off a 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 49 seconds left in the first half. Johnson finished with 111 yards rushing.
Tennessee closed to 27-21 when Kerry Collins tossed his second TD pass of the night, a 4-yarder to Bo Scaife with 7:59 left in the game. The defense forced the Colts to go three-and-out, and the momentum seemed to swing to the Titans for the first time.
But Tennessee couldn’t pick up a first down, and fans booed when Fisher sent out the punting unit on fourth-and-1.
Manning made the Titans pay with a slant to Pierre Garcon, who shook off Jason McCourty and Hope while safety Michael Griffin whiffed as the receiver slipped up the right sideline for a 43-yard play. Adam Vinatieri ended the drive with his third field goal, a 47-yarder that made it 30-21 with 2:55 left.