Colts Move Into 2010 Bye Week With 27-24 Victory over Washington Redskins
In the end, Jim Caldwell said the result was all that mattered.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while the Colts hardly played perfectly – and while three second-half turnovers gave the game a different feel than might have been otherwise – more imant were other things:
They made it to the bye tied for first in the AFC South.
They ran efficiently. And they won on the road.
But mostly, they just won, and a 27-24 victory over the Washington Redskins in front of 87,883 at FedExField in Landover, Md., not only gave the Colts their second victory in four road games this season, it sent Indianapolis into the bye week with a share of first place in the division.
"All in all, I don't think we were perfect," Caldwell said after the Colts' second victory in as many games on NBC's Sunday Night Football this season.
"We had a few too many turnovers to make it a little different game than maybe it would have been if we hadn't turned the ball over, but they hung in there and found a way to win it."
That was the players' emphasis as well.
"The standard of our team is so high that whenever we have a few bumps in the road, people seem to panic," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "People say, 'Oh, the Colts are going to have a bad year. The Colts don't have this. They don't have that.'
"Look around the league, it's pretty balanced out there. There's not really a dominant team out there. We're still trying to work on being more consistent and finding our identity.
"That's what we're working on. This was a great start."
The Colts (4-2), who lost three fumbles in the second half, outgained Washington (3-3) for the game, 469-335, with quarterback Peyton Manning completing 25 of 38 passes for 307 yards and touchdowns of 57 yards to wide receiver Pierre Garcon and five yards to wide receiver Austin Collie.
Those touchdowns came in the first half, in which Indianapolis pushed to a 17-7 lead, and with running back Joseph Addai running well throughout, the Colts held a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Addai, who rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries – a 7.5-yard average – gave the Colts a 24-14 lead on a 13-yard touchdown run with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter.
The Colts rushed for 170 yards as a team.
"Any time you come in on the road and run the ball, you're going to have a chance to win," Colts center Jeff Saturday said.
The Colts continued to move efficiently after that. But turnovers helped the Redskins stay close, and Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb passed eight yards to Keiland Williams with 2:46 remaining to pull Washington to within three, 27-24.
The Redskins prevented the Colts from running out the clock, but with 32 seconds remaining, Colts safety Aaron Francisco's one-handed interception clinched the victory.
"They gave us all we could handle," Caldwell said.
The victory gave the Colts a 2-2 road record this season. They have been .500 or better on the road every season since 2002.
"Any time you can get a win on the road, it's big," said Colts rookie linebacker Pat Angerer, who made his first career start for injured linebacker Gary Brackett.
The Colts entered the game with not only Brackett out, but also safety Bob Sanders, backup running back Donald Brown and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Sanders' backup, Melvin Bullitt also is on injured reserve. Addai left the game with a shoulder injury on the first drive of the fourth quarter.
The Colts have their bye week this week.
"We've got to heal up," said Powers, whose first-quarter interception led directly to the touchdown pass that gave the lead the Colts never relinquished.
With Addai out much of the fourth quarter, Mike Hart – as he did last week – played extensively in the fourth quarter and rushed for 43 yards on 11 carries.
"We're just trying to get better," Hart said. "We're still trying to put everything together. Luckily, we pulled it out, but it was too close. We definitely have some things to improve on."
Addai's performance was the first 100-yard rusher for a Colts back since Addai did it in November 2008.
"Joe was excellent," Caldwell said. "He had unbelievable effort out there, and had some big runs."
The Colts led 17-7 after a first half in which they moved efficiently.
They also early in the first half got the first of a number of big plays by Powers, who set up the Colts' first touchdown.
After the teams exchanged punts on the first two possessions, Powers cut in front of a short pass by McNabb to wide receiver Santana Moss, with his interception giving the Colts possession at their 43.
Manning threw deep on the ensuing play, and Garcon caught the pass deep in Redskins territory, stepping away from the last defender for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Garcon caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, his first 100-yard game of the season and third of his career.
Redskins running back Ryan Torain (100 yards, 20 carries and two touchdowns) scored on a 9-yard touchdown run two possessions later to tie the game 7-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Indianapolis controlled the second quarter to push the lead to double digits.
First, Manning capped a 12-play, 84-yard drive with a 5-yard pass to Collie. That gave Indianapolis a 14-7 lead, and while kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal on their next possession, he converted from 43 yards on the possession after that for a 17-7 lead.
Redskins wide receiver Brandon Banks blocked a 48-yard attempt by Vinatieri with two seconds remaining in the half.
The first of three Colts lost fumbles set up the first Redskins score of the second half.
After second-year defensive end Brian Orakpo stripped the ball from Manning, Torain scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to three, 17-14.
The Colts pushed the lead back to 10 with a 13-yard run by Addai, who set the touchdown up with a career-long 46-yard run.
A 33-yard field goal by Vinatieri with 8:41 remaining pushed the Colts' lead back to 10, and while McNabb – who brought the Redskins back throughout the second half – made it close with a late rally, Francisco's late-game interception gave the Colts what tight end Dallas Clark called a "huge victory."
"They're a great team – they're a tough defense," Clark said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge. They've been shutting offenses out all year, and they gave us fits.
"Every yard was earned. They make you earn it."