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Manning's five TD's lead Indy to playoff rout

Broncs bucked

Posted: Monday, January 05, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS Peyton Manning was finally playoff perfect.

The Denver Broncos were imperfect. And that's being kind.

The result was a 41-10 rout by Indianapolis over Denver on Sunday that put to rest any questions about Manning's ability to win a big game and sent the Colts (13-4) on to Kansas City for a second-round game with the Chiefs next Sunday.

Perfection?

The NFL's co-MVP threw for touchdowns on each of the Colts' first four possessions and finished 22-of-26 for 377 yards and five TDs, the third time in 17 games this season he had five or more TD tosses. That made Manning the first ever to do that.

Perfection?

When he left the game in the fourth quarter Manning had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the second time this season.

He might have had five TDs in the first half had time not run out and forced Mike Vanderjagt to kick a field goal. No problem: Manning threw his fifth on the first series of the second half.

Denver's day was defined by one play: a 46-yard TD pass from Manning to Marvin Harrison late in the first period.

Harrison caught the ball at the Broncos 30 and fell to the turf. Three Broncos Lenny Walls, Kelly Herndon and Al Wilson surrounded him, but when no one touched him down, Harrison casually rolled over and started running for the end zone.

No whistle. Touchdown. And though that made it just 14-3 with three quarters left, the game was over. Denver coach Mike Shanahan laced into his brain-dead defenders on the sideline and Manning continued to find open receivers everywhere.

On the first drive, Manning threw a 23-yard TD pass to Brandon Stokley. Manning also hit Stokley for an 87-yard TD just inside the 2-minute warning.

In between came two TDs to Harrison, the ''don't touch me'' score and a 23-yarder. Manning's fifth was to Reggie Wayne from 7 yards out on the first possession of the second half. The star quarterback left midway through the fourth quarter.

In fact, Indianapolis scored on every possession until Edgerrin James fumbled 1:38 into the final period. And punter Hunter Smith made it on to the field only to hold for extra points and field goals.

Could Manning have caught the Broncos napping?

You wouldn't think so, considering that he threw for six TDs against New Orleans this season and five against Atlanta, becoming just the fifth QB to throw for five or more touchdowns in the regular season.

But Denver could have been overconfident after coming into the RCA Dome just two weeks ago and beating the Colts 31-17. The Broncos rushed for 227 yards in that game, held the ball for nearly 45 minutes and limited Manning to 146 yards and no TDs.

He was way beyond that yardage in the first quarter Sunday and by halftime was 16-of-18 for 327 yards and four TDs. Harrison had six catches for 127 yards in the half, and Stokley had three receptions for 131 yards. Harrison finished with seven catches for 133 yards, and Stokley four for 144.

The win also lifted a burden on Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy, who lost his last four playoff games, three with Tampa Bay and a 41-0 rout by the New York Jets in the Meadowlands last season. Dungy's teams failed to score a TD in all four of those games.

As for Denver, the three defenders who stared at Walls weren't the only Broncos dozing on the job. Left guard Dan Neil was called for three holding penalties and a chop block in the first half alone 45 yards of penalties in all.

Jake Plummer, forced to abandon the running game, threw two interceptions to David Macklin, the Colts' nickel back who has been a target for opponents all season.

Broncos 10, Colts 41

Denver 3 0 0 7 10

Indianapolis 14 17 10 0 41

First Quarter

IndStokley 31 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 11:55.

DenFG Elam 49, 3:48.

IndHarrison 46 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), :36.

Second Quarter

IndHarrison 23 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 7:28.

IndStokley 87 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 1:51.

IndFG Vanderjagt 27, :00.

Third Quarter

IndWayne 7 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick), 5:19.

IndFG Vanderjagt 20, :55.

Fourth Quarter

DenR.Smith 7 pass from Plummer (Elam kick), 7:04.

A56,586.

Den Ind

First downs 20 23

Total NetYards 322 479

Rushes-yards 26-146 23-85

Passing 176 394

Punt Returns 0-0 0-0

Kickoff Returns 6-133 2-34

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 2-52

Comp-Att-Int 23-30-2 26-31-0

Sacked-Yards Lost 2-5 0-0

Punts 2-42.0 0-0.0

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1

Penalties-Yards 5-55 5-40

Time ofPossession 34:38 25:22

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHINGDenver, Portis 17-68, Griffin 6-60, Plummer 3-18. Indianapolis, James 17-78, Rhodes 4-8, Manning 1-0, R.Williams 1-(minus 1).

PASSINGDenver, Plummer 23-30-2-181. Indianapolis, Manning 22-26-0-377, Huard 4-5-0-17.

RECEIVINGDenver, R.Smith 5-66, Sharpe 5-31, Droughns 5-19, Adams 2-18, Griffin 2-18, Carswell 2-12, Portis 1-10, Lelie 1-7. Indianapolis, Harrison 7-133, Wayne 5-43, James 5-37, Stokley 4-144, Walters 3-1, Pollard 1-25, Davenport 1-11.

MISSED FIELD GOALDenver, Elam 46 (BK).



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