Colts Offense Produces Four Touchdowns in Biggest Scoring Game of Season
INDIANAPOLIS – A week later, Peyton Manning said the goal was relatively clear.
The Colts, a week after not scoring an offensive touchdown in a regular-season game for the first time in more than five years, entered Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals wanting to change that, and wanting to be more efficient.
With one exception, Manning said the Colts did just that.
The Colts, a week after their lowest-scoring game since September of 2005 in which Manning -- the team's 11-year veteran quarterback --played the entire game, turned in their highest-scoring game of the season Sunday, scoring four offensive touchdowns in a 35-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We just wanted to be a lot sharper," said Manning, who on Sunday completed 26 of 32 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 134.0 passer rating – his second-highest rating of the season.
"Last week (a 10-6 victory over Cleveland) was a funny game in the fact that we did some good things, moved the ball well, just couldn't finish in the red zone. That was the goal today, to be better in the red zone.
"Aside from the one turnover, we did a good job of getting touchdowns, not having to settle for field goals."
The Colts' lone turnover came when tight end Dallas Clark fumbled at the Bengals 1-yard line early in the second quarter with linebacker Rashad Jeanty recovering in the end zone.
The Colts scored touchdowns on their four other red-zone possessions.
"That's what you have to do in order to win games," Manning said.
SANDERS RETURNS: Bob Sanders came back Sunday.
Sanders, the Colts' two-time Pro Bowl safety, was declared active for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium shortly before kickoff, while center Jeff Saturday was among eight Colts players deactivated.
"I felt pretty good," said Sanders, who led the Colts with nine tackles, including seven solos. "I was definitely excited to be back out. When you're hurt and you're out, you want to come back."
Said Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, "I thought he was a little rusty, which you could expect. He obviously gives us that energy and that speed. He missed some tackles he normally makes, so it was good for him to get some time and not have him have to play the whole game.
"That was pretty good, too. I think he'll be much better next week."
Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed the last three games with a knee injury. Sanders said how he responds in the next several days will be key.
"It's always fun," he said. "You're moving and running off adrenaline, but (Monday) will be the real test to see how you feel."
Saturday also missed last week with a calf injury.
The Colts' other inactive players Sunday:
Linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, middle linebacker Gary Brackett, linebacker Rufus Alexander, tight end Jamie Petrowski, wide receiver Roy Hall, defensive end Curtis Johnson and defensive tackle Keyunta Dawson.
RICHARD, DAVIS, JOHNSON START: Rookie Jamey Richard started a second consecutive game in Saturday's place, with defensive tackle Antonio Johnson making his first NFL start for Dawson and linebacker Buster Davis making his first NFL start for Brackett.
Brackett and Dawson each had started the first 12 games of the season.
Davis finished with three assisted tackles.
"Buster did a very good job for his first game," Dungy said. "We felt, especially early on when it was going to be running situations, that he would do a good job. He's a physical tackler and a very instinctive run player. I thought he did well for his first shot out of the box."
ALL THE WAY THE OTHER WAY: The Colts scored their second defensive touchdown in as many weeks on Sunday.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden, after setting up a touchdown with a first-half interception, intercepted a pass from reserve quarterback Jordan Palmer and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown with 5:02 remaining.
"I guess they had a miscommunication, as me reading the quarterback, I just made a play on it," Hayden said. "That was the easy part of it, running it back."
BREAKING OUT: With the Colts playing two tight-end sets extensively, tight end Gijon Robinson had his biggest statistical day of the season, leading the team with six receptions for a team-high 69 yards.
"They stayed in a lot of two-deep zone, and that allowed Gijon actually to catch some balls," Dungy said. "We didn't figure it was going to be that way. We thought he'd be in there protecting. They ended up dropping deep and kind of allowing him those catches underneath. He came through."
Said Robinson, "I was just concentrating on what I do, and I knew if I could do that I would be able to help the team out. It's imant for me to be in tune with Peyton and in the right place at the right time. It's definitely rewarding."
ADDAI, SIMPSON LEAVE: Colts running back Joseph Addai left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Running back Chad Simpson left in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and defensive tackle Eric Foster left the game in the fourth quarter with a burner.
Dungy said Simpson told him he will be ready to play Sunday against Detroit, and said Addai could have returned Sunday.
ETC., ETC.: Manning on Sunday passed Drew Bledsoe (44,611) for the seventh-most career passing yards in NFL history. . . . Manning has thrown 20 or more touchdown passes in 11 consecutive seasons, the second-longest streak in NFL history (Brett Favre, 12) and he is the first player in NFL history to throw 20 or more touchdown passes in 11 consecutive seasons to start a career. . . . Manning also on Sunday became the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first 11 NFL seasons.
HOW THEY SCORED
BENGALS 00 03 00 00 – 03
COLTS 07 07 14 07 – 35
COLTS 7, BENGALS 0
Dominic Rhodes 17 run (Adam Vinatieri kick), :36 remaining first quarter. Drive: Nine plays, 79 yards, 4:58. Key play: Joseph Addai 5 run on 3rd-and-1 from Colts 41.
COLTS 7, BENGALS 3
Shayne Graham 19 FG, 6:08 remaining second quarter. Drive: Eight plays, 78 yards, 4:16. Key play: Chad Ocho Cinco 26 pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on 1st-and-10 from Bengals 33.
COLTS 14, BENGALS 3
Marvin Harrison 5 pass from Peyton Manning (Vinatieri kick), :34 remaining second quarter. Drive: Two plays, seven yards, :32. Key play: Kelvin Hayden 22 interception return plus eight-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gives Colts 1st-and-goal at 7.
COLTS 21, BENGALS 3
Anthony Gonzalez 2 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 6:15 remaining third quarter. Drive: 15 plays, 81 yards, 8:45. Key play: Rhodes 8 run on 4th-and-1 from Bengals 30.
COLTS 28, BENGALS 3
Dallas Clark 4 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 2:22 remaining third quarter. Drive: Three plays, 69 yards, 1:29. Key play: Harrison 67 pass from Manning on 2nd-and-12 from Colts 29.
COLTS 35, BENGALS 3
Kelvin Hayden 85 interception return (Vinatieri kick), 5:02 remaining fourth quarter.