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Manning Leads Two Late Drives

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Peyton Manning proved he can win without putting up big numbers.

Facing the AFC's stingiest defense, Manning led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter Sunday, one in the final 68 seconds, as the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Buffalo Bills, 18-16.

After the Colts fell behind, 16-15, on Eric Moulds' 40-yard reception with 1:08 to play, Manning drove Indianapolis 42 yards to set up Mike Vanderjagt's 45-yard field goal as time ran out.

"We were very calm. There was no panic at all," said Manning, who was coming off a franchise-record 440-yard performance in last Monday night's 43-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. "The fact that we had three timeouts was big because it didn't feel like we had to force the ball long."

Manning, limited to only 75 yards in the first 41 minutes, completed 16 of 26 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He was held to fewer than 200 yards for only the ninth time in his two-plus seasons.

On the winning drive, Manning chipped away after the Colts started on their own 31. His 10-yard pass to Edgerrin James, coupled with a five-yard facemask penalty against Keion Carpenter, was the biggest gain of the drive.

Indianapolis (3-1) won at Buffalo for only the third time in its last 20 trips. The Bills (2-2), coming off their open date, have lost two in a row, both against AFC East rivals.

With Manning at the helm, Vanderjagt was confident his turn to win the game was coming.

"I'm just happy to be along for Peyton's ride, because he's one of the best in the league," he said. "As soon as they scored, I knew that we would be able to get into field-goal range.

"That's plenty of time for Peyton, and he did exactly what he needed to do."

It was the eighth time Manning has led a fourth-quarter comeback and the fourth time he has lifted the Colts to victory on the final drive.

Manning's 14-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison in the second quarter cut the Bills' lead to 9-7, and his 10-yard scoring pass to Terrence Wilkins gave the Colts a 15-9 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

James ran the ball 19 times for 60 yards, and Harrison had three catches for 45 yards as the Bills held the Colts to 265 yards--the second fewest since 1998.

The Bills were left frustrated, knowing they dominated most every aspect of the game except for the final score.

The Bills topped the Colts in rushing (170 yards to 82), passing (246-187), first downs (21-14) and enjoyed almost a 12-minute edge in time of possession.

Yet yet somehow they lost, the third time in their last nine games--including playoffs--they've failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead.

"Obviously, it's a tough loss," Coach Wade Phillips said. "We missed too many opportunities. The loss is disheartening, but I can't do anything about it now. We have to learn from these things."

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