BALTIMORE (AP) -- An outstanding performance by the Indianapolis
defense enabled Peyton Manning to take his time before finding a
way to get the offense in working order.
The Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, Manning
threw two second-half touchdown passes, and Indianapolis cruised
past the Baltimore Ravens 24-7 Sunday night.
Manning could generate only three points in the first half, but
it didn't matter because Baltimore wouldn't end up scoring until
the game's final minute.
"Our defense had to play well until we figured out the looks
they were going to give us," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We
just had to hang in there."
Indianapolis scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take
a 17-0 lead, and the Colts coasted behind a defense that received
few headlines last year while Manning threw an NFL-record 49
touchdown passes for an offense that amassed a league-leading 522
"So often, our offense gets a lot of credit," defensive tackle
Corey Simon said. "They've done great things, but it's time for
the defense to get a name for ourselves and play hard and be just
as good as our offense."
The Ravens lost quarterback Kyle Boller, who hyperextended his
right big toe while being sacked by Larry Triplett in the third
quarter with the score 17-0. Boller finished 15-for-23 for 141
yards and an interception.
"I've never had any foot problems before. It's concerning
because it's my plant foot," Boller said.
Ravens coach Brian Billick said the injury "is more severe than
it sounds, but I'll have to defer to the doctors to see how bad it
Boller's replacement, Anthony Wright, completed 19 of 31 passes
for 214 yards and two interceptions in his first game since 2003.
His 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Wilcox with 13 seconds left
ruined the Colts' bid for their first shutout since a 41-0 rout of
Miami on Dec. 14, 1997.
Manning went 21-for-36 for 254 yards and no interceptions, and
Marvin Harrison had six catches for 69 yards.
"We stuck to our plan and it worked," Manning said. "We just
had to keep plugging and plugging, and we got into a little groove
in the second half."
By the middle of the fourth quarter, many of the 70,501 in
attendance -- the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in
Baltimore -- headed for the exits.
Baltimore's Matt Stover missed field goals of 38, 47 and 45
yards. He missed three all last year.
"I look at misses as a turnover and momentum changer," Stover
said. "I apologize to the city of Baltimore for the performance."
Stover's second miss, on the Ravens' first possession of the
third quarter, came with Indianapolis up 3-0.
The Colts then took advantage of a key penalty during a 63-yard
drive that ended in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Manning to
Harrison, who got behind Chris McAlister in the right corner of the
end zone. The penalty, against Dale Carter for putting a hand to
the face of receiver Brandon Stokley, occurred on a third-and-8
from the Indianapolis 39.
Instead of punting, Indianapolis kept moving.
It was the 83rd time Manning and Harrison have hooked up for a
touchdown, two behind Steve Young and Jerry Rice as the most
prolific TD duo in NFL history.
On their next series, the Colts covered 71 yards in four plays,
going up 17-0 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Ben
Utecht. It was Utecht's first catch in the pros.
"If we keep doing what we plan on doing, we're going to get our
plays," Manning said. "We finally got the shot to Marvin down the
right sideline. We got the play to Utecht down the middle."
Held in check by an aggressive Baltimore defense for much of the
first half, the Colts took a 3-0 halftime lead on a 20-yard field
goal by Mike Vanderjagt with 15 seconds left. The 54-yard drive
appeared stopped when Will Demps made an end zone interception, but
Terrell Suggs was offside on the play.
McAlister also dropped a potential interception on the play
before the field goal.
"No sacks, no turnovers," McAlister said. "That's not our
type of football."
^Notes:@ Lewis said he broke his finger, and Ravens S Ed Reed
bruised a leg muscle. ... Stover last missed three field goals in
one game in 1998. ... Colts LB Gary Brackett had two interceptions,
equaling his total for the 2004 season.
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