Colts Turn in Complete Game in 38-14 Victory Over New York Giants
INDIANAPOLIS – All week, they spoke of maintaining focus and perspective, of emphasizing basics. Mostly, they talked about improving.
On Sunday, the Colts did just that.
And they did it not only on a national stage, but in impressive fashion.
The Colts (1-1), a week after a double-digit loss in the regular-season opener, turned in a complete performance in the 2010 regular-season home opener, controlling momentum early and pulling steadily away from the New York Giants (1-1) for a 38-14 victory in front of 67,725 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Every Sunday, you have to do it – and every season you have to do it," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after he completed 20 of 26 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 145.5.
"You look at some teams that are 0-2 – we could easily be 0-2 as well. We lost last week, and I felt like we beat a good team tonight.
"You have to show up every Sunday, and you have to execute every Sunday."
The Colts took control of the game with a strong first half, taking a 24-0 lead as they registered 18 first downs to five for the Giants. A week after a 34-24 season-opening loss at Houston, the Colts out-rushed the Giants 124-58 in the half and had 278 yards to 69 for New York.
That was part of a dominant statistical effort for the Colts in which they:
• Out-rushed New York, 160-120.
• Out-gained the Giants, 410-257.
• Registered 24 first downs to 13 for New York.
• Had four sacks compared to one for New York.
• Held a 35:06-24:54 time-of-possession advantage.
• Forced three turnovers and committed one.
"I'm not certain that they (the Colts) had anything to prove other than the fact that we didn't play well last week," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "I thought the guys really focused in like they do every week in terms of preparation.
"Our practices were very good, and they played like it."
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, registered two sacks and Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis also registered two.
"The beautiful thing about football is you have 16 opunities in the regular season to go out and prove whatever happened last week wrong or prove it right," said Freeney, whose sack/fumble in the third quarter resulted in what he said Colts players call a "trifecta:" a sack, a fumble and a score after defensive tackle Fili Moala recovered for a touchdown and a 31-7 Colts lead.
"For us, it was a big game. Defensively, we didn't like what we did last week. Obviously, we wanted to come out there and make a statement.
"Next week, we'll prepare the same way. We'll go out there and try to dominate the game."
The game, billed by some as "Manning Bowl II" because of the match-up of Peyton Manning and his brother – Giants quarterback Eli – instead became about the Colts executing and showing significant improvement in two areas: offensive line and run defense.
The offensive line, which expressed displeasure with their performance in Houston, allowed just one sack, and also cleared holes for a run offense that helped control momentum in the first half. The Colts, who were 32nd in the NFL in rushing a year ago, rushed for 160 yards on 43 carries.
The run defense, after allowing 257 yards to the Texans last week, allowed 120 to the Giants, but controlled the Giants' running game early, allowing just 22 yards on seven first-quarter carries.
The Colts, a week after losing their regular-season opener for just the third time since 1998, started the game with energy and efficiency, moving effectively on the game's first series.
The Colts took the opening kickoff and moved 80 yards in 12 plays, with second-year running back Donald Brown running over right tackle for seven yards and a 7-0 Colts lead. Manning completed five of five passes for 52 yards on the drive.
The Colts' defense, after allowing 257 yards rushing a week ago, held the Giants to two first-quarter first downs, and those came in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
After controlling the first quarter, Indianapolis spent the second pulling away.
They began the period with an eight-play, 98-yard drive that ended when Manning passed deep to tight end Dallas Clark for a 50-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. That play was set up by the effective running of Donald Brown and Joseph Addai. Six of the first seven plays of the drive were runs totaling 44 yards.
Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers intercepted Eli Manning on the ensuing play, and after an unnecessary roughness penalty on running back Brandon Jacobs, Indianapolis again moved for a score, with kicker Adam Vinatieri converting a 38-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.
The Colts rushed seven times for 50 yards on that drive, then the Giants' second turnover of the half led to the Colts' third touchdown.
With New York facing 3rd-and-1 from the Colts 48, Colts defensive end Robert Mathis sacked Eli Manning for a six-yard loss, forcing a fumble that defensive tackle Eric Foster recovered at the Giants 45 with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter.
Peyton Manning quickly drove the Colts, completing six of eight passes for 43 yards on a 45-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass to second-year wide receiver Austin Collie.
The Giants, after trailing by 24 points at the half, cut quickly into the lead when Eli Manning passed 54 yards to Mario Manningham for a touchdown with 10:44 remaining in the third quarter.
But Freeney sacked Eli Manning on the second play of the ensuing series, and after the ball bounced toward the goal line, Fili Moala recovered for a 31-7 Colts lead.
With the Colts' defense continuing to pressure Eli Manning throughout the second half, the Colts held the Giants in check, and early in the third quarter, Peyton Manning added his third touchdown pass of the game – and sixth of the season – when he passed 10 yards to wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
The Giants closed the scoring with a 31-yard pass from Eli Manning to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, but by then Lucas Oil Stadium was nearly empty and the Colts had prevented their first 0-2 start since 1998.
"What you did last week or the week before does not matter," Manning said. "This was an important game for us to respond. We did not want to be 0-2 going on the road to Denver. It was a disappointing loss last week, so I'm proud of our team beating a good team tonight."