**Rookie Wide Receiver Scores Two Touchdowns in Division Win
It was Austin Collie's turn to shine Sunday night, and the rookie wide receiver took advantage of every opportunity his veteran quarterback presented him.
The Colts' fourth-round pick out of Brigham Young finished with eight receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts' 31-9 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
With Tennessee's defense paying respect to wide receiver Reggie Wayne on the outside, quarterback Peyton Manning exploited the middle of the field, throwing pass after pass in the slot to Collie and tight end Dallas Clark, who finished with nine catches for 77 yards.
For the second week in a row, Collie caught a lengthy touchdown pass from Manning late in the second quarter to extend a lead, with last week's catch against Seattle being the first of his young career.
This week, it was a 39-yard pass from Manning with 17 seconds left in the half. The Colts quarterback hit Collie over the middle of the field, and the rookie picked up numerous yards after the catch, breaking through several Tennessee defenders to score the first of his two touchdowns.
"The one before the half was just a huge play," Manning said. "The catch was great, but the effort to get into the end zone was something else."
Manning said the Titans did not offer many one-on-one matchups, playing primarily a zone defense, which forced Indianapolis' offense to be patient. Instead of throwing the ball downfield, the Colts picked up first down after first down, 23 in all. Manning's most frequent target Sunday night was running back Joseph Addai, who caught 10 short passes for 53 yards.
But Manning picked his spot perfectly as the clock in the second quarter winded down. After starting from their own seven yard-line with 57 seconds left, the Colts quickly moved downfield before Manning saw Collie in a mismatch in the slot on first down.
"They had a linebacker on him, and it is tough for a linebacker to cover Collie over the middle," he said.
Manning's touchdown to Collie put the Colts up 12 at the half, 21-9, but the rookie's second touchdown of the night would soon extend that lead.
Collie scored again on the team's first drive of the second half, reeling in a six-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 28-9.
His two touchdown catches helped the Colts defeat their AFC South rival, but Collie said he is happy just to be a part of a 5-0 team.
"It has been fun from day one," he said. "It's been a blast. Take away the touchdowns and the big plays, just being out there and being able to contribute somehow, someway, is an honor."
Collie's extra work during the week has helped him make an impact on game days, Manning said. The quarterback said the rookie occasionally will make a mistake, but has been putting in extra work and has impressed him with "how seriously he's taking to the cerebral part of the game."
Earlier this week, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Collie and other young offensive players' success would largely depend on how much they are willing to dedicate themselves to the mental aspect of the game.
"I think if you're really going to progress quickly in this offense, you have to spend time studying and really looking at the details of our system," he said.
After Sunday's game, Collie was quick to deflect the attention away from him and instead focus on his teammates, who have helped him throughout the preseason and the first five weeks.
"It just helps with the leadership we have," he said.
Collie listed Manning, his fellow receivers and Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers Clyde Christensen as some of the people who have remained patient and helped him improve.
The rookie also said he needs to continue to stay patient and focus on improving each and every week.
While it was the young player's turn to shine Sunday night, his quarterback joked he wants to make sure the rookie stays humble.
That should not be too much of a problem for the player just happy to be a part of a winning team.
"It's honestly just an exciting time," Collie said.
• The Colts defense held the Titans to only 90 yards rushing Sunday night, the third consecutive game they have held their opponent under 100 yards on the ground. Over that span, the Colts have allowed just 54.3 rushing yards per game. On Sunday, Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, the NFL's leading rusher coming into the game, ran for only 34 yards on nine carries.
• Defensive end Dwight Freeney sacked Titans quarterback Kerry Collins in the third quarter, extending his streak of consecutive games with a sack to six, a career-best.
• Indianapolis heads into the bye week on a 14-game winning streak, and it could not come at a better time, according to Manning. "We haven't been playing at full strength, so any time you have a bye week and we can get some guys back in the next two weeks is a big plus," he said. "We are going to need everybody as we go into this second stretch of the season."
• Manning passed for 309 yards Sunday night, giving him five consecutive games of 300 passing yards or more. Manning became only the third quarterback in NFL history to open a season with five or more consecutive games with over 300 yards passing. Steve Young (1998) and Kurt Warner (2000) each passed for 300-plus yards six times in a row.
• Manning moved to third place in career passing touchdowns on Sunday night with 345. He entered the game tied with Fran Tarkenton. Manning also moved into fifth place past Tarkenton (47,003) in career passing yards with 47,273.
• Rookie punter Pat McAfee averaged 49.3 yards per punt on his four punts, Sunday night, including two punts that landed inside the Tennessee 20 yard-line. McAfee's first three punts were for 59, 56 and 55 yards, respectively.