The clock-beating drives, the milestones, the victories are all part of his weekly routine again. Not even those opponents trying to play keep-away can foil the three-time MVP these days.
Manning led the Colts to touchdowns on four of their first five drives Sunday, tied league marks established by Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino and extended Indianapolis’ regular-season winning streak to 13 with a 34-17 victory over Seattle.
“We played greatness today,” Seattle coach Jim Mora said. “He’s one of the finest of all times.”
For Manning, whose trophy case already includes three MVP awards and a Super Bowl ring, it’s been possibly his most impressive start in 12 NFL seasons.
On Sunday, he was 31 of 41 for 353 yards, marking the first time Manning has topped 300 yards in four consecutive games. It’s also a franchise record.
By that point, Manning had already reached two other milestones. His first TD pass went to Reggie Wayne(notes) for a 5-yard score, making Manning and Dan Marino the only quarterbacks in league history to throw 55 TD passes to two different receivers. Manning threw 112 TDs to Marvin Harrison(notes). Marino’s two receivers were Mark Clayton(notes) and Mark Duper.
Manning’s second TD pass, a 21-yarder to rookie Austin Collie(notes) after a brilliant audible, put him alongside Tarkenton for No. 3 on the NFL’s career list. Both have 342, trailing only Marino (420) and Brett Favre(notes) (469).
That accomplishment came with a personal touch.
“Fran and my dad are friends and my dad has told me great stories about Fran Tarkenton,” Manning said. “He was a unique player.”
Manning’s amazing efficiency is his signature trait.
In the first half, only three of Manning’s 20 passes hit the ground—one was a throwaway, one was batted at the line and one was overthrown.
Seattle (1-3), which was again missing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck(notes) (rib) and left tackle Walter Jones(notes) (knee), didn’t have the firepower to avoid losing its third straight—or keeping up with Manning’s efficiency.
“With our situation being what it is, it’s going to be tough until we get back to full strength,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “We have a small margin for error, and we made some errors.”
Manning wasted no time in taking advantage.
Seattle got on the scoreboard with a 38-yard field goal, but left Manning with 1 minute, 22 seconds to go—too much time to score. Manning took the Colts 78 yards in 79 seconds, with a nifty throw-and-catch to Collie with 3 seconds left.
“With 9 seconds left, you look at some things and you may not try that with a more inexperienced quarterback,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “But this guy has been around a long time and he knows how to take care of the ball.”
The Colts sealed the outcome with Joseph Addai’s(notes) 12-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, two field goals from Adam Vinatieri(notes) and a solid defensive performance that limited Seattle to just 49 yards rushing.
Seneca Wallace(notes), Hasselbeck’s replacement, got Seattle into the end zone twice in the final three minutes and was 33 of 45 for 257 yards with one TD, lost two fumbles and five sacks—one by Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney(notes) who wasn’t even expected to play Sunday.
Manning made sure they never had a chance.
“Our guys are doing a great job of catching that ball and getting yards after the catch,” he said. “I’d say as a group, we might be doing that as well as we’ve done. That sure does make drives a lot more efficient when you’re throwing 7 yards and getting 20 yards out of it.”
NOTES: Seahawks guard Rob Sims(notes) sprained his left ankle and defensive end Patrick Kerney(notes) pulled his groin and will be evaluated Monday. … Colts left tackle Charlie Johnson(notes) hurt his knee during the game and did not return. … Edgerrin James(notes) had four carries for 16 yards in his return to Indy, where fans applauded loudly the first time he touched the ball and again when a video tribute was shown between the third and fourth quarters. Afterward he and his ex-teammates took pictures together.