MIAMI // Peyton Manning engineered a fourth-quarter rally to lead Indianapolis to a 27-23 win against the Miami Dolphins, breaking the record for the most wins by a Colts' quarterback in the process. Manning, returning to Miami for the first time since the Colts' Super Bowl triumph over the Chicago Bears in February 2007, threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns in guiding his team to their second successive win of the campaign.
It was Manning's 119th victory with the Colts, surpassing Johnny Unitas's record of 118 when the franchise was based in Baltimore. "That is because he can do things like he did tonight. He can lead you on drives with just enough time left, he is very, very smart," said the Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Miami, now with two defeats, had the ball for a remarkable 45 minutes and seven seconds the longest time of possession for a losing team since 1977 when the statistic started being recorded.
With Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Jennifer Lopez among the crowd of more than 66,000, Manning was quick to show his own star quality, faking a hand-off on the first play of the game and finding tight end Dallas Clark down the middle for an 80-yard touchdown. Miami responded swiftly with Ronnie Brown charging home from 14 yards on a direct snap to bring the Dolphins level. The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter to go in level 13-13 at half-time and took that score into the fourth quarter after a scoreless third.
The Dolphins got their noses in front when Brown burst over from three yards, but the Colts were again level after Donald Brown shook off two tackles to power home from 15 yards. A Dan Carpenter field goal restored Miami's lead with just under four minutes to play, but that was more than enough time for Manning, who took just 32 seconds to put the Colts ahead. Manning's short pass to the right found Pierre Garcon and the receiver sprinted home for a 48-yard touchdown.
Miami had a late chance to snatch victory but Ted Ginn was unable to haul in Chad Pennington's deep ball into the end zone. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, whose team rushed for more yards than the Colts and converted 71 per cent of third downs, said his plan to concentrate on the running game had almost worked. "It is really disheartening, how many times have you seen a game like that? It is exactly the formula to beat that team, exactly the formula, but we cannot give up big plays on the other side, we know that," he said.
Miami's Brown, who rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns, felt the bitterness of the defeat more than most but said Manning had been the difference. "When you have a guy like that on the other side who does such a great job of getting his guys down the field, in position and putting them in the right place, you know it is hard," he said. * Reuters