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Austin Collie and Pat McAfee had career days, and the Colts defense held strong in the red zone.


Collie, McAfee Have Career Days; Defense Comes Up Big


Austin Collie's grass-stained jersey told the story of the second-year wide receiver's effort in the Colts 27-13 victory in Denver on Sunday. He often was targeted by four-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, 16 times in fact.

And he reaped the rewards.

Collie set career-highs in receptions (12) and yards (171) and tied his career best with two touchdowns.

And as Collie said Sunday, to say he feels more comfortable and has a better grasp of the offense in Year Two would be an understatement.

"Last year there was a lot going through my mind each play, and the last thing I was going to worry about was how I was going to run my route," Collie told Colts Radio. "This year I feel a little more confident and comfortable and can actually focus on the technique of running routes and catching balls rather than thinking about my assignments and hoping not to screw up."

The time Collie put in during the offseason with Manning to sharpen his skills and better learn the offense did not come as a surprise to Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell.

"The thing about Austin is that he is a guy that works so hard," Caldwell told Colts Radio. "You see the tip of the iceberg. His whole body of work during the course of the week in preparation for the games is just unbelievable. He has a great work ethic and it shows."

Collie, typically a slot receiver in the Colts' system, lined up everywhere on Sunday as the Colts were without receivers Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez. And whether it was crossing over the middle, sprinting on a go route or settling down in a zone, Collie seemed to grab everything thrown his way.

Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne was not surprised with Collie's career day.

"I'm sure if you put it anywhere in his area he will make a good play on it," Wayne told Colts Radio. "He has good hands, he works hard and he had a great day."

Collie's 23-yard touchdown catch with 4:26 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Colts their biggest lead of the game, 27-13. Drawing man coverage, Collie burst up the right sideline and pulled in a perfectly placed pass by Manning in the corner of the end zone.

"On the play before…I felt I had an opportunity to run by him," Collie said. "Peyton just came up and asked if I felt if I could run by him and I told him yes. So we went with the long ball."

Through three games, Collie leads the NFL in receptions (27) and receiving yards (359) and is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions (4).

Indianapolis' defense came up big and provided a spark in a variety of ways during Sunday's victory over Denver.

The Colts' defense gave up six points, on two field goals, in five Broncos red zone attempts.

"I think it was a complete team effort defensively, and the offense did what they were supposed to like they always do," defensive end Dwight Freeney told Colts Radio. "Collectively across the board we did a great job from the play callers to the guys that are out there."

Perhaps the defense's most crucial stand came as it stopped four Broncos' attempts from the 1-yard line in the second quarter with Denver trailing 13-0.

"I think one of the things that you really underestimate about our defense is the fact that they just have so much fight and so much grit in them," Caldwell told Colts radio. "They find a way to get you stopped down there. They throw their bodies around and do a great job of securing their gaps, particularly down in the red zone."

An interception by Jacob Lacey and fumble recovery on a muffed punt by Justin Tryon resulted in 10 points for the Colts.

"That has been huge for us," Caldwell said. "Any time you can stay on the positive side of the ledger in terms of the turnover margin it is going to give us a great chance to win, particularly on the road."

The Broncos offense was limited to five-of-15 third down conversions, while Denver entered Sunday with a 56.7 conversion rate, which ranked second in the NFL.

On 18 rushing attempts, the Colts defense held Denver to under 50 yards and a 2.6-yard average.

A week after tying teammate Adam Vinatieri for the Colts' club record with five touchbacks on kickoffs in a game, Pat McAfee broke that tie Sunday, recording six touchbacks on six attempts.

And after posting 21 touchbacks in his rookie season, McAfee has 11 in the last two weeks.

McAfee also had six punts for 287 yards, a 47.8-yard average, limiting Denver's average starting field position to their own 26-yard line.

-Peyton Manning has 141 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-highest total of his career. The streak dates back to the Colts' season finale at Buffalo in 2009. Manning's' career-best of 190 consecutive passes without an interception came in 2006-07.

-Manning has 1,013 passing yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions this season.

-With three touchdowns and zero interceptions Sunday, it marked the first time in Manning's career he has had three consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions.

-Indianapolis' offense has scored on 24 consecutive red zone attempts.

-Indianapolis' offensive line did not give up a sack against Denver on 43 passing attempts.

-Robert Mathis has had a sack in three consecutive games.

-Kelvin Hayden led the Colts with 10 tackles on Sunday, all solo.

-Rookie wide receiver Blair White had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. White became the 33rd player to catch a touchdown pass from Manning.

-Indianapolis turned two Broncos turnovers into 10 points.

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