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Manning Keeps His Poise

September 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts' high-scoring offense proved it could be patient too.

Peyton Manning went into the locker room at halftime and tried to not be frustrated after the Colts had only three first-half series and nine offensive plays in the first 27 minutes at Indianapolis.

"You do have to stay poised," the two-time most valuable player said.

Manning threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the second half, and Terrence Wilkins returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to help the Colts maintain their dominance in the AFC South with a 21-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Offensively, we've been in enough games to know it's going to be a four-quarter game, and you've got to move on," Manning said.

Usually for the Colts (3-0), that's second nature. But Jacksonville's aggressive game plan changed the script.

By clogging the inside running lanes with their big tackles, the Jaguars (2-1) relied on speed to shut down the outside. Meanwhile, the offense played keep-away with a powerful running game that produced 191 yards but only 86 after the first quarter.

For a half, it seemed like the perfect strategy.

The problem was that the three-time defending division champions improvised -- with the third-longest punt return for a touchdown in franchise history and Manning's first rushing touchdown since 2002 -- to win their second straight home game over a division foe. Indianapolis has won 11 straight AFC South games and beat the Jaguars for the fourth time in five tries.

"I guess they've got the bragging rights now," Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich said.

Jacksonville wanted to make a statement in the title chase six days after shutting out Pittsburgh.

The defense managed to keep Manning out of sync or off balance most of the day. He finished 14 of 31 for 219 yards with one touchdown, the 249th of his career, and scored on a beautiful fake to secure the victory midway through the fourth quarter.

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