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INDIANAPOLIS 38, NEW YORK JETS 31

James Paces Colts

November 17, 2003|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Edgerrin James softened up the New York Jets' defense and punter Hunter Smith blasted through it.

While James carried for a season-high 127 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, it was Smith's 21-yard run on a fake field goal that gave the Indianapolis Colts a 38-31 victory.

"It just opened wide up," Smith said after scoring his first touchdown in five NFL seasons. "I think anyone could have scored on that one."

Perhaps anyone could have scored Sunday, period.

Peyton Manning threw for a season-high 401 yards in a game that had a little bit of everything.

The Jets (3-7) and Colts (8-2) combined for 862 yards, 69 points and scored on a myriad of big and strange plays -- none more crucial than Smith's go-ahead burst late in the third quarter.

The Colts also looked much different than the team that took a day off in a 41-0 loss to the Jets last January.

This time, Indianapolis' offense pretty much did anything it wanted despite missing three starters: left tackle Tarik Glenn, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and tight end Marcus Pollard. It also lost Harrison's replacement, Troy Walters, with a hamstring injury during the game.

Yet, Manning and James had little trouble exposing the Jets' holes.

James, who complained he wasn't getting enough work after last week's loss, had 36 carries, second most of his career.

Manning was superb, completing 27 of 36 passes with one touchdown -- a 46-yarder to Walters. Reggie Wayne caught nine passes for 141 yards, and Dallas Clark had five receptions for 100 yards.

"We said if they could run it and pass it, it was going to be hard to defend them," Jet Coach Herman Edwards said.

The Colts took advantage of just about everything, including the Jets' aggressive rush on the field-goal attempt that made Smith the unlikeliest hero.

New York got two touchdowns from Jonathan Carter, on a 62-yard touchdown pass and a 90-yard kickoff return. Santana Moss broke Don Maynard's franchise record with a touchdown reception in his sixth consecutive game.

Chad Pennington completed 11 of 14 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns.

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