Manning, Colts take offense in 49-24 rout

THE BALTIMORE SUN

INDIANAPOLIS - If the Indianapolis Colts could face the Denver Broncos every week, they'd have that Super Bowl ring by now.

For the second year in a row, Peyton Manning put on a memorable performance in leading the Colts to an easy first-round win.

Manning lit up a Denver secondary that had been rebuilt with beating the Colts in mind, completing 27 of 33 and throwing four touchdown passes in a 49-24 victory yesterday that wasn't really that close.

Manning completed 27 of 33 passes for 457 yards, the second-highest total in NFL postseason history.

And Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 221 yards, the third-most in playoff history, plus two touchdowns.

So the Colts (13-4) will go to New England for an AFC divisional-round game Sunday with some confidence.

"We haven't thought about New England yet," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We have time for that."

They may need it. The Colts have lost to the Patriots three times in the past two seasons, including last year's AFC title game and this year's season opener, both in New England.

"I don't know that we're better equipped [to beat New England] than last year," Dungy said. "We thought we had a good shot to win it all last year, and I think we learned from that experience. We're a more mature and confident team."

In pre-game chatter, Broncos safeties John Lynch and Kenoy Kennedy said the Colts' receivers weren't all that big and didn't like to be hit. The Colts turned that into bulletin board material.

"Maybe we need someone to do that every week to challenge our guys," Dungy said of his receivers. "I was proud of the way our guys handled that. They just set about doing their business.

"They know they're a tough group. They don't have to talk about it. They showed up today."

So did the rest of the Colts.

"We just played well," Dungy said. "We could feel it all week. They knew what was at stake, and I'm proud of them."

After punting to end their first drive, the Colts drove for touchdowns on five of their next six possessions to take a 35-3 halftime lead. It could have been 6-for-6, but tight end Marcus Pollard reached for a pass in the end zone intended for Wayne, tipped it and Kelly Herndon intercepted it.

This game had its roots in last year's first-round game at the RCA Dome, when the Colts rolled to a 41-10 win and Manning threw five touchdown passes.

The Broncos (10-7) traded for Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and assigned him to Marvin Harrison, who had four catches for 50 yards yesterday.

The Colts already led 21-0 when Harrison made his first catch in the second quarter.

Denver covered Wayne with rookie Roc Alexander, who had a long day.

"It's nothing against Alexander," Manning said. "Reggie's had an outstanding year. Whoever's covering Reggie is always in for a challenge.

"We don't throw to a particular guy, but we try to call plays to throw to the guy that's open."

Said Wayne: "It was a matchup we thought we could take advantage of. We wanted to start out fast."

Count Wayne among those inspired by the Broncos' remarks.

"I wasn't going to back down," Wayne said. "I wasn't going to fall to the ground or whatever they said. I just wanted them to know that this would happen all day. I'd be up for it. They'd know where to find me."

Wayne's touchdowns came on a 35-yard reception that boosted the lead to 28-3 and a 43-yarder that made it 42-17.

Tight end Dallas Clark caught six passes for 112 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass. The other touchdown pass, which started the scoring, was a 2-yard lob to James Mungro.

Edgerrin James, who ran for 63 yards, scored on a 1-yard run to make it 14-0.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Two for the books

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Reggie Wayne turned in two of the top individual performances in playoff history yesterday:

Most passing yards

Yds Player, tm Opp. Date

489 Kosar, Clev. Jets 1/3/87

457 Manning, Ind. Den. 1/9/05

433 Fouts, S.D. Miami 1/2/82

Most receiving yards

Yds Player, tm Opp. Date

240 Moulds, Buf. Miami 1/2/98

227 A.Carter, Min. S.F. 1/9/88

221 Wayne, Ind. Den. 1/9/05

Schedule

Saturday

N.Y. Jets (11-6) at Pittsburgh (15-1)

Time: 4:30 p.m.

TV: chs. 13, 9

Line: Pittsburgh by 9

St. Louis (9-8) at Atlanta (11-5)

Time: 8 p.m.

TV: chs. 45, 5

Line: Atlanta by 7

Sunday

Minnesota (9-8) at Philadelphia (13-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: chs. 45, 5

Line: Phila. by 9 1/2

Indianapolis (13-4) at New England (14-2)

Time: 4:30 p.m.

TV: chs. 13, 9

Line: N. England by 2 1/2

Denver 0 3 14 7-24

Indianapolis 14 21 0 14-49

First quarter Ind-Mungro 2 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 7:23. Ind-James 1 run (Vanderjagt kick), :38.

Second quarter Ind-Clark 19 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 8:11. Den-FG Elam 33, 5:19. Ind-Wayne 35 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 4:29. Ind-Manning 1 run (Vanderjagt kick), :06.

Third quarter Den-R.Smith 9 pass from Plummer (Elam kick), 9:01. Den-Putzier 35 pass from Plummer (Elam kick), 1:10.

Fourth quarter Ind-Wayne 43 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 12:48. Den-Bell 1 run (Elam kick), 7:45. Ind-Rhodes 2 run (Vanderjagt kick), 2:02. A-56,609.

Den Ind

First downs 18 27

Total Net Yards 338 529

Rushes-yards 21-78 24-76

Passing 260 453

Punt Returns 1-(-1) 1-9

Kickoff Returns 8-188 2-54

Interceptions Ret. 1-0 1-0

Comp-Att-Int 24-34-1 27-33-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 3-24 1-4

Punts 4-37.5 2-38.0

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 5-24 4-25

Time of Possession 30:42 29:18

Rushing-Denver, Bell 12-49, Droughns 8-29, Plummer 1-0. Indianapolis, James 18-63, Rhodes 5-12, Manning 1-1.

Passing-Denver, Plummer 24-34-1-284. Indianapolis, Manning 27-33-1-457.

Receiving-Denver, R.Smith 7-99, Bell 4-32, Droughns 4-28, Putzier 3-67, Lelie 2-27, Hape 2-8, Carswell 1-15, Watts 1-8. Indianapolis, Wayne 10-221, Clark 6-112, Harrison 4-50, Stokley 2-33, Pollard 2-28, James 2-11, Mungro 1-2.

Missed field goals-None.

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