Colts 17, Bills 16
Sunday, November 12th 2006, 3:45 pm
News On 6
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Buffalo Bills slowed down Indianapolis' fast-track offense Sunday. It wasn't quite enough to stop the NFL's last unbeaten team from making NFL history.
A restrained Peyton Manning repeatedly threw the ball underneath, used his ground game effectively and delivered a time-consuming final drive, all the Colts needed to get past Buffalo 17-16, becoming the first team ever with back to back 9-0 starts.
Manning was masterful when he needed to be on a day the Bills simply refused to let the Colts play their game.
Manning rarely had the chance to go deep as the Bills (3-6) dropped extra defenders into deep coverage, and chewed up the clock by running the ball frequently.
It almost worked.
While J.P. Losman completed only 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards, Anthony Thomas, starting in place of the injured Willis McGahee, carried 28 times for 109 yards. Terrence McGee scored on a 68 yard fumble return and set up a field goal with a long kickoff return.
The Bills even appeared to be in position to defeat an unbeaten team on the road for the first time since 1980 after Nate Clements recovered a fumble at the Indy 41 with 8:58 to go. But 3 time Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney sacked Losman on 3rd & 5 at the Colts 24, and Ryan Lindell pushed the potential go ahead 41 yard field goal wide right.
Manning responded by running out the clock.
He finished 27-39 for 236 yards with 1 touchdown, a 1 yarder to Reggie Wayne in the 1st half. Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined to rush 27 times for 150 yards, and Manning's talented receiving tandem of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne was limited to a combined total of 6 catches for 63 yards.
It didn't bother Manning, who broke a tie for 8th on the NFL's career TD list with Vinny Testaverde by throwing his 262nd touchdown. Manning also passed Boomer Esiason for 11th on the career completion list. Manning now has 2,979; Esiason finished with 2,969.
Buffalo was efficient but not real productive.
Lindell completed a time consuming, 61 yard opening drive with a 22 yard field goal.
Manning answered early in the 2nd quarter with a perfect TD pass to Wayne on the sideline, then marched the Colts 78 yards to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 31 yard field goal that made it 10-3 late in the half.
He had the Colts moving again in the final minute, but Angelo Crowell forced Ben Utecht to fumble after a 9 yard completion. McGee scooped it up and outran the Colts for a touchdown to tie the score at 10 with 31 seconds left. It was the second straight week Buffalo had a defensive score.
Manning needed only 9 plays to take charge in the 2nd half, mixing runs and short passes, before Addai scored on a 5 yard run to make it 17-10.
The Bills stayed close, using McGee's 88 yard kickoff return to set up the second of Lindell's field goal and closed to 17-16 when Lindell hit a 43 yarder.
But after Lindell's late miss, the Bills couldn't get Indy stopped and the Colts hung on.