EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Peyton Manning couldn't wait to get
into the NFL season. So he didn't even bother to huddle.
The Indianapolis Colts, using a hurry-up offense for much of
Sunday's game, routed the New York Jets 45-24. Manning wasn't at
his sharpest, but he was plenty productive with 22 completions and
two touchdowns, and Edgerrin James rushed for 135 yards.
"It really felt like we were setting the tempo out there
offensively," said Manning, who threw for 231 yards. "We had a
good rhythm going. We had a good plan offensively.
"I think it worked well as a change of pace. In the second half
we sort of changed it to a controlled no-huddle. It could keep the
Jets defense from regaining their composure."
Rarely were the Jets composed in the debut of Herman Edwards as
coach. At times, they were comically inept and seemed to wilt in
the 80-degree heat.
Most absurd was the play that clinched the Colts' victory, a
lumbering 95-yard fumble return by defensive end Chukie Nwokorie
with 5:17 to go.
Guard David Loverne, playing fullback on fourth-and-1 from the
Indianapolis 2, collided with Vinny Testaverde as the quarterback
turned with the snap. The ball ricocheted directly to Nwokorie, and
the only Jet who pursued him was Testaverde. Twice, Nwokorie eluded
Testaverde as the rest of the Jets watched.
"He caught the ball in midair and there was a big pileup,"
said Testaverde, who, like his teammates, was inconsistent all day.
"He (Loverne) didn't hear the play the way it was called, but it
probably was my fault that I did not make it clear. It's my
Nwokorie, a backup, fell flat on his back when he reached the
end zone to complete his improbable journey.
"In situations like that, someone has to step up," he said.
"I thought of being tackled and I thought of pitching it. But I
just decided to hold onto the ball and keep running."
Another strange play came on Marvin Jones' first-half
interception. Manning's pass into the end zone deflected off James'
hands directly to the linebacker. He started up field with the
interception, but fumbled the ball back to Manning at the New York
The Colts, who won their final three games last season to steal
a playoff berth from the Jets, who lost their last three, actually
put this one away with a 28-point second quarter. James, the NFL's
leading rusher the last two seasons, had TD runs from the 29 and
the 1, and Terrence Wilkins broke a 78-yard punt return for a TD
with 20 seconds left in the first half.
"I was on a redeem mission," said Wilkins, who earlier muffed
a punt that led to New York's second touchdown. "I knew I had to
come back strong. I was thinking to forget about the last play and
I kind of new I was going to do something."
But Manning picked apart the Jets' soft zone and took advantage
of a meager pass rush. He connected with Jerome Pathon for a
21-yard score and Marcus Pollard on a 5-yarder in going 22-for-32
overall. He threw for 180 yards in the opening half alone.
"It goes without saying, winning against a good team in a
hostile crowd on the road, it's just an absolutely huge win,"
The Jets actually led 7-0 on Coles' TD just 4:02 into the game.
It was set up by Chad Morton's 33-yard punt return.
New York also started the second half quickly, getting John
Hall's 22-yard field goal after Marcus Coleman's 36-yard return of
an interception. But Manning atoned for his mistake with a 75-yard
drive on which he hit five of six passes.
"Obviously, this was tough," Edwards said. "It was our first
go at it and I want the guys to be successful and we weren't. We
just couldn't close them down."
There were no controversies involving the replacement
officials. ... Martin, who had a career-high 203 yards vs.
Indianapolis last season, rushed for 79. He surpassed 10,000 yards
from scrimmage for his career. ... The Colts have won five of their
last six against the Jets. ... Marvin Harrison tied a Colts record
for successive games with a reception. He has one in 77 straight
games, tying Marshall Faulk.
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