|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NFL Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He's just fine, thank you very much.
Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped a three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans 30-28, Thursday night to climb within a half-game of Jacksonville in the AFC South.
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical slump behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn't intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters, beating the Titans for the fourth straight time. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
Back in the state where he first came to prominence, at the University of Tennessee, Manning nearly had a third touchdown pass, but Colts rookie receiver Blaire White broke up a pass intended for teammate Reggie Wayne in the end zone.
The Colts (7-6) haven't lost four straight since 2001, when their five-game slide prompted Jim Mora's famous rant about the playoffs. Now the only NFL team to reach the postseason in 10 of the last 11 seasons is back on track and will defend its AFC South title if it wins out.
Tennessee (5-8) has lost six straight to drop 2½ games back in the division with three to play. The Titans can blame themselves for mistakes that led to each of the Colts' first three touchdowns, including twodefensive penalties on third-and-goal and a high snap over the punter's head. One fan showed up wearing a grocery bag over his head with "Jeff Fisher: A commitment to mediocrity" written on it, referring to the Titans coach.
The Titans did break out of their scoring slump, ending a 14-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown when Chris Johnson finished off a 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 49 seconds left in the first half. Johnson rushed for 111 yards Thursday.
Tennessee closed within 27-21 when Kerry Collins tossed his second TD pass of the night, a 4-yarder to Bo Scaife with 7:59 to play. The defense forced the Colts to go three-and-out, and momentum seemed to swing to the Titans for the first time. But Tennessee couldn't pick up a first down, and fans booed when Fisher sent out the punting unit on fourth-and-1.
Manning made the Titans pay with a slant to Pierre Garcon who shook off Jason McCourty and Hope, and safety Michael Griffin whiffed as the receiver slipped up the right sideline for a 43-yard play. Adam Vinatieri nded the drive with his third field goal, a 47-yarder that made it 30-21 with 2:55 left. Injury-riddled Indianapolis finished the game with just five healthy offensive linemen, making the win even more precious.
When betting on football note that the Titans used up every second trying to rally.
Collins found Scaife again for a 2-yard TD pass as time expired. Collins passed for 244 yards and three TDs, giving him 200 touchdown throws in his career. But it was Manning who really got back on track, putting the Colts up, 21-7, at halftime with TD passes of 1 and 19 yards to Garcon -- after tossing a career-worst 11 interceptions during Indianapolis' slide. The first TD pass was his 25th of the year, making him the first quarterback to reach the mark in 13 consecutive seasons. also scored, on a 1-yard plunge, his NFL rookie-best sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
Tennessee started Kenny Britt or the first time since he strained his right hamstring on Halloween, with moving to the bench. Collins connected with Britt twice for 23 yards. But Collins tossed a screen to Britt to open the second quarter, and Dwight Freeney hit him, knocking the ball loose. Moss finished the game without a reception.