With plenty of help from their defense and special teams, the Colts bring a balanced attack into Ralph Wilson Stadium their matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
Indianapolis used a rare trick play against the New York Jets last week, as punter Hunter Smith ran 21 yards for a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt to break a 31-all tie in the third quarter and give the Colts a 38-31 win.
Mike Vanderjagt, who earlier kicked his 29th straight field goal, wasn’t even aware of the play until it was in motion.
“I didn’t even know the fake was on,” Vanderjagt said. “When he took off with the ball, I guess that’s when I knew. I went to kick the ball and he was already off and running.”
The Colts have had many players come up big this season, such as Dwight Freeney making a key sack to preserve a win over Miami on Nov. 2 and receiver Reggie Wayne setting a career high with 141 yards receiving in a victory over against Jacksonville on Sept. 21.
“I think that’s the way it should be,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said. “We have a lot of guys who can play the game and we have confidence in all of them.”
Pollard strained his right knee in practice Thursday and will likely miss Sunday’s game, while Harrison might play against the Bills, who boast the second-best passing defense in the NFL.
“I feel good,” Harrison said. “I just don’t want to do anything stupid to re-injure it. But right now, it feels real good.”
Manning—the NFL leader the NFL with 2,876 passing yards—was superb again last week with 401 yards and a touchdown, and James ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
“They did a good job of mixing it up with the run and the pass,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said. “They’re a great play-action team, and they did both.”
James became the Colts all-time leader with 5,540 rushing yards, breaking the mark of 5,487 set by Lydell Mitchell from 1972-77.
“I guess every run I have will be a record from here on out,” James said.
The Colts bounced back from an ugly 28-23 loss at Jacksonville a week earlier, and can improve to 9-2 for the first time since 1999 and only the second time since 1977.
The Bills’ struggles continued Sunday as they lost their third straight, 12-10 to Houston. Buffalo failed to score a touchdown for the third straight game and has managed just 21 points since a 24-7 win over Washington on Oct. 19.
“I’m so mad. I don’t know what to do,” Bledsoe said. “There have been times when offenses I have been on have struggled … but I can’t recall a time when we went three games without a touchdown.”
Travis Henry played the second half with a cracked bone in his lower right leg and finished with 149 yards rushing—but only 34 came after his injury.
Henry’s injury held up through his first practice of the week Friday, giving the Bills’ running back hope he can play against Indianapolis.
“I felt good making my cuts, accelerating, and I’ll see how it goes,” Henry said.
Henry has 520 rushing yards in the last four games and may still be effective against a Colts run defense that has allowed six 100-yard rushers in its last eight games. Henry and Moulds, however, are both questionable for this contest.
Buffalo is allowing just 17.0 points per game, but scoring only 15.9 per contest. The Bills have been held to 10 points or less in five of six losses.
“It’s hard for me to believe,” Bills president Tom Donahoe said. “It shouldn’t be happening. But it’s where we are. We have to come up with some answers. Right now we don’t seem to have any answers.”
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