Colts 41, Lions 9 / Cowboys 21, Bears 7

Thursday, November 25th 2004, 4:19 pm

By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ While Peyton Manning tried to downplay his individual accomplishments, receiver Brandon Stokley heaped on the praise.

``He's the best that's ever played this game as far as quarterbacks are concerned,'' Stokley said. ``When he's retired, they'll compare everybody to Peyton Manning.''

On Thursday, Manning threw six touchdown passes _ three each to Stokley and Marvin Harrison _ in less than three quarters in the Colts' 41-9 victory over Detroit. The Indianapolis star has 41 TD passes this season, seven short of Dan Marino's 1984 record, and set an NFL record with at least four TD passes in five straight games.

``I feel uncomfortable talking about anything individual,'' Manning said. ``I just want to keep winning.''

He gave way to backup Jim Sorgi late in the third quarter, giving up a chance to tie the NFL record of seven touchdown passes shared by Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle and Joe Kapp.

``Whatever record they want to break, they have a chance,'' Lions coach Steve Mariucci said.

Manning helped the AFC South-leading Colts (8-3) win their fourth straight game, finishing 23-of-28 for 236 yards and zero interceptions.

``Four touchdowns seems like an off week for him,'' Stokley said. ``You expect that from him. It's kind of funny to expect four or five touchdowns from a guy every game.''

Manning tried to deflect credit to his teammates, especially running back Edgerrin James, saying that linebackers have to respect the run.

``At least four of the six touchdowns were play action,'' Manning said.

James ran for 105 yards, Harrison caught 12 passes for 127 yards, and Stokley had five receptions for 57 yards.

In the only other game Thursday, Dallas beat Chicago 21-7.

The Lions (4-6) lost their fifth straight game. They fumbled four times in their territory, missed a field goal and stalled repeatedly in the red zone.

Fittingly, backup quarterback Mike McMahon fumbled on the final play before scooping up the ball and throwing a game-ending interception.

Joey Harrington was 14-of-23 for 156 yards before he was benched late in the third quarter, but Mariucci insisted Harrington has not lost his job. McMahon was 11-of-15 for 105 yards and the interception.

With the six TD passes, Manning matched the team record he set in September 2003 against New Orleans. Before that, no one had thrown for six TDs in an NFL game in a dozen years.

Marino, now a CBS analyst, was asked how teams should deal with Manning, who has five regular-season games left to break the former Miami star's record.

``Blitz him!'' Marino said.

The Lions tried, but they were no match for Manning's quick release and sound decision-making.

Stokley had three TD catches in the first half, and Harrison had one of his to help the Colts take a 27-9 lead at the break.

Lions returner Eddie Drummond, who has scored on four punt and kickoff returns this season, left at the start of the second half with a shoulder injury that could end his season. Things got so bad for the Lions that Drummond's replacement, Reggie Swinton, fumbled on a punt return and the ball was recovered by Colts punter Hunter Smith.

Detroit's subdued fans came to life when McMahon replaced Harrington late in the third quarter. But McMahon couldn't help the offense much.

Mariucci said despite the change, Harrington has not lost his job.

``I thought Joey did OK, but the score got away from us, so I saw an opportunity to get Mike some much-deserved playing time,'' Mariucci said.

Kevin Jones ran for 99 yards on 12 carries for the Lions, who fell to 33-30-2 in their traditional Thanksgiving Day home games. The Colts handed Detroit its most lopsided loss on the holiday.

Cowboys 21, Bears 7

At Irving, Texas, rookie Julius Jones ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns to help Dallas (4-7) end a three-game losing streak.

Jones, the first Dallas running back to top 100 yards this season, had a 33-yard touchdown run on Dallas' first drive and added a 4-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Drew Henson's performance at quarterback raised more questions than it answered for the Cowboys. In his first start, he was pulled at halftime after going 4-of-12 for 31 yards. Vinny Testaverde finished, going 9-of-14 for 92 yards and a TD.

Chicago (4-7) scored on R.W. McQuarters' 45-yard interception return.

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