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Manning Leads Colts to a Late Victory

October 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Peyton Manning watched the fourth-quarter lead his Colts had just taken vanish in a flash when the New York Jets returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards.

Cool, calm and ever the leader, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback jogged back on the field with a little more than two minutes left and took charge.

"There truly never was any panic," Manning said. "When they ran the kickoff back, we were just getting back on the bench. We didn't have time to get mad or to panic."

They certainly had plenty of time to ruin the Jets' victory plans.

After Justin Miller's 103-yard dash gave New York the lead with 2:20 left, Manning led Indianapolis on the type of efficient drive that has defined his career -- capping it with a one-yard run that gave the Colts a wild 31-28 victory Sunday.

"It can be deflating to see Miller run that kickoff back, but it only is if it's the last play of the game," Manning said. "There wasn't a whole lot of talk. We said, 'Here are the plays we're thinking about. Let's go down and get it in the end zone.' "

Manning completed six of eight passes for 60 yards on the drive, including a 19-yard pass to Marvin Harrison and a 15-yarder to Reggie Wayne that put the ball at the one-yard line. Running the no-huddle offense, Manning then took the ball and pushed himself into the end zone.

"I was pumped," Manning said. "You practice those two-minute drills all the time. Everybody's played that backyard game where you envision the last play of the game. Any time you can do it in New York, it adds a little something to it."

With eight seconds left, the Jets got off one last play: a seemingly never-ending lateral-fest that almost worked.

For a few moments, it appeared Miller's kickoff return was going to be the winning play.

But not with Manning on the other side.

Manning finished 21 of 30 for 217 yards and a touchdown. With the scoring pass, he became the second-fastest quarterback to throw 250 touchdown passes in his career, doing it in 132 games; only Dan Marino (128) reached that number faster.

Jets running back Cedric Houston injured his left knee on his second carry of the game. He was carted off the field, and his status wasn't immediately known.

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