INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The NFL’s biggest perfectionist found little to quibble with Sunday. Sure, Peyton Manning would have preferred scoring a few more touchdowns and less mistakes.
But what more could the two-time MVP really ask of his teammates?
Manning threw three touchdown passes, broke John Unitas’ franchise record for completions and led the Colts to scores on six of their first seven possessions in a 43-24 rout over Houston that wasn’t that close.
“The main thing our veterans are having to battle is enjoying regular-season victories,” he said. “All everybody wants to talk about is what are you going to do when you get to the playoffs? You hang 43 on a team, you ought to be happy about it.”
Again, Indy’s offense dominated the Texans, who have lost all nine games in the series.
Indy (2-0) produced 515 yards, converted on eight of its first 10 third-down chances and didn’t punt until early in the fourth quarter as the record-setting combination of Manning and Marvin Harrison had another milestone day.
Manning’s second TD pass, a 21-yarder to rookie Joseph Addai in the first quarter, gave him 2,797 completions—one more than Unitas had in his Colts career. He finished 26-of-38 for 400 yards, his seventh-highest yardage total as a pro, and with 2,820 career completions.
“I always feel uncomfortable, a little awkward when you’re talking about records of Johnny Unitas,” Manning said. “That’s a real special mention any time you can be in the same sentence as him.”
Harrison and Reggie Wayne also were busy.
Wayne caught six passes for 135 yards, while Harrison had seven catches for 127 yards and passed Art Monk for fifth on the career receptions list. Harrison now has 943 career receptions.
“I did meet him quite a few times, he’s a terrific person and a great player and just to be in the same company as those guys means a lot to me,” Harrison said.
Houston (0-2), meanwhile, looked its old self—misfiring from the start.
On the game’s first offensive play, David Carr was sacked by Robert Mathis before he could even set up to throw. Carr fumbled the snap on the next play and Raheem Brock recovered for the Colts at the Texans 16. Three plays later, Manning and Brandon Stokley hooked up for a 10-yard TD pass.
Less than 12 minutes into the game, Carr had already been sacked twice, the Texans had three fumbles and they trailed 14-0.
“You can’t have things happen to you like we let happen early. That’s nervous stuff,” Gary Kubiak said. “That’s no excuse, we can’t use it as an excuse.”
The Texans defense allowed a stagnant Colts ground game to rush for 125 yards, including 82 from rookie Joseph Addai, and their beleaguered offensive line took some big hits, too.
Left tackle Charles Spencer fractured his lower left leg midway through the third quarter and could be lost for the season, Kubiak said. Center Mike Flanagan hobbled off in the fourth quarter with a left foot injury and did not return.
It was that kind of day.
“Down 14-0 at this place, I don’t think it’s helpless but it’s tough,” Carr said. “It’s tough to beat these guys 0-0. When you’re down 14-0, it’s incredibly difficult.”
But the Colts’ proficient offense caused the most grief for Houston.
The only time the Colts didn’t score in the first three quarters was when Addai was stood up at the goal line and guard Dylan Gandy ran into him, jarring the ball loose. Houston recovered in the end zone.
Otherwise, Indy was unstoppable.
Adam Vinatieri connected on three field goals, from 39, 43 and 38 yards.
The Texans got a 39-yarder from Kris Brown with 1:54 left in the half, and Carr threw three touchdown passes in the last 12 minutes. Carr was 22-of-26 for 219 yards and was sacked four times.
“We controlled the momentum, we controlled the game and I thought, did some awfully good things,” Dungy said. “We just have to clean up our mistakes a little bit.”
Indy recognized the rescue workers who died during the Sept. 11 attacks with a moment of silence before the game. … Houston guard Chester Pitts missed the first snap in his career with Houston, a span of 3,884 plays. … Hunter Smith missed the Colts’ last extra point, after Vinatieri left with a groin injury. … Stokley caught the touchdown pass on his first play of the season, but aggravated his sprained left ankle injury and did not return. … Tony Dungy earned his 50th regular-season win as Colts coach.
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