Colts off to best start since 1977
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts reached the midway point of the season as one of the surprise teams in the NFL, even to their own coach.
Peyton Manning leaps into the end zone to complete a 7-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Peyton Manning passed for 290 yards, extended his streak of touchdown passes to 21 games and scored on a 7-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter, giving the Colts a 25-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Colts (6-2), who are off to their best start since the then-Baltimore Colts opened 9-1 in 1977. They already have as many victories as the last two years combined.
"If you had asked me if this team could be 6-2, I'd have said it would be really tough," coach Jim Mora said. "I think 6-2 realistically would be beyond anybody's expectations. But I'll take it."
Kansas City (5-3) set up the go-ahead Indianapolis touchdown when Larry Parker fumbled a punt return and Tito Wooten recovered at the Colts' 46-yard line early in the final period. Rookie Edgerrin James, who rushed for 109 yards, carried 27 yards on the next play and caught a 21-yard pass three plays later to the Chiefs' 10.
Peyton Manning ran for a 3-yard gain and then put the Colts up 22-17 with his 7-yard TD run, becoming the first Colts quarterback with two rushing touchdowns in a season since Jim Harbaugh in 1995.
"It was a dropback passing play," Peyton Manning said. "Marvin (Harrison) was my first look and the corner kind of pressed him. I was looking that way and saw there was nobody to account for me. I kept my arm in a throwing position, which froze the defense, and got a good block.
"I think I have decent speed," he said. "I'm not going to outrun any defensive backs, but it is something I work on because it's nice to escape the pocket when you have to."
Mike Vanderjagt kicked his fourth field goal, a 37-yarder with 1:10 left, and the Chiefs reached the Indianapolis' 39 before Tony Blevins batted down a desperation pass to the end zone by backup Warren Moon as the game ended.
The Colts were without defensive back Steve Muhammad, whose wife Nichole died Sunday from complications during childbirth.
"That might have been the hardest game we've had all year," Mora said. "Kansas City is a very good football team and did a heck of a job. We had to battle our tails off. Thank God we were playing them at home. When you can win a game like this and come from behind like we did, you appreciate it even more."
Kansas City's Parker blamed himself for the crucial fumble.
"I had my chance to bring one to the house. I messed up," he said. "I didn't take care of it. I was kind of stumbling, and the next thing I knew the ball was coming out. It's really frustrating."
Peyton Manning passed for 204 yards as the Colts took a 13-10 halftime lead, but he also had two big turnovers (a fumble and interception) that kept the Colts from possibly an even bigger advantage.
A 29-yard pass to Harrison and a 15-yard run by James took Indianapolis to the Chiefs' 5 on the first possession of the game, but Peyton Manning fumbled the snap and Marvcus Patton recovered the ball for Kansas City. Vanderjagt kicked field goals of 47 and 34 yards on the next two Indianapolis possessions.
Starter Elvis Grbac, who set up a 23-yard touchdown run by Donnell Bennett in the second quarter, was replaced by Moon with 18 seconds left after he was hit hard on a tackle and bruised his back.
"It was just a blindside hit. I'm fine. I'll play next week," Grbac said. "They were coming with a cornerback blitz. I ran away from it a couple of times. It's just unfortunate it happened in the final two minutes."
Peyton Manning took Indianapolis to Kansas City's 24 late in the second period, but a pass to Ken Dilger was intercepted by defensive tackle Chester McGlockton, who returned the ball 30 yards and lateraled to Reggie Tongue for seven more yards to the Indianapolis 35. Four plays later, Pete Stoyanovich missed a 47-yard field goal attempt with 28 seconds remaining, keeping the Indianapolis lead at 13-10 at the half.
The Chiefs' final score came on an 18-yard pass from Grbac to Lockett on the first drive of the third quarter. Vanderjagt added a 29-yard field goal on the next series to cut Indianapolis' deficit to 17-16.
Game notes Kansas City hasn't defeated an AFC East team on the road since a 27-7 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 11, 1992. This was the Chiefs' 10th consecutive road loss to an AFC East team. ... The Colts are the only NFL team that hasn't allowed more than nine sacks this season. Peyton Manning, who had been sacked only four times in seven games, was sacked three times ... Peyton Manning's streak of 21 games with at least one TD pass tied him with Moon and Jeff Blake for the ninth-longest string in league history. ... Harrison extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 52 games. ... Terrence Wilkins accounted for 148 yards with 95 on four kickoff returns, 27 on three punt returns and 26 on three receptions. ... The Chiefs' Derrick Thomas raised his club record for sacks to 123? with one against the Colts.
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