NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 2, 2005) -- It's time to quit doubting the Indianapolis offense. The Colts showed they can be methodical and score lots of points at the same time.
Peyton Manning threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Marvin Harrison that tied the NFL record for most TDs between a quarterback and receiver, and the Colts beat Tennessee 31-10.
Harrison caught nine passes for 109 yards, and Edgerrin James also ran for 90 yards in helping the Colts improve to 4-0 with their highest point total this season.
"I guess we won't have to answer the question what is wrong with the offense now," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
The Titans (1-3) are the NFL's youngest team, and their inexperience showed. Drives ended repeatedly with dropped passes, including one that turned into an interception, costly penalties and two timeouts wasted in a march that finished with a missed field goal.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said he was disappointed by the lack of execution. Center Justin Hartwig was much more succinct.
"Today they just blew us out of the water. When we didn't come out in the second half and put points on the board right away, it was pretty much over," Hartwig said.
Manning and the Colts were numbingly efficient and had fans streaming to the exits midway through the third quarter. They rolled up 364 yards with four drives that stretched 69 yards or longer.
"It's tough," Titans linebacker Peter Sirmon said. "You can't stop it. Peyton Manning knows what he's doing with the ball every time, and you've got to give him credit."
Manning tied Ron Jaworski with his 116th consecutive start, which ranks second among quarterbacks behind Green Bay's Brett Favre. He came into this contest with a two-game drought without a TD pass that was his longest since his rookie season.
It didn't last long.
Manning was a perfect 4 of 4 for 64 yards on the opening possession and capped the drive with a 25-yard toss to Reggie Wayne, who was wide open with Titans safety Tank Williams late sliding over to cover.
"Last week people were kind of making a big deal," Manning said of scoring 47 points in the first three games. "I overthrew it a couple times. The real mind-set is to finish drives into the end zone, and we did that today. And that really was the difference."
The Titans chose to spend most of the game in their basic defense instead of filling up the secondary to guard against the pass. They did stop James three times inside the Tennessee 7, forcing the Colts to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt in the second quarter.
That was the only big stop from a defense that watched the Colts convert seven of 10 third downs.
Manning finally connected with Harrison on an 11-yard TD pass for a 17-3 lead just before halftime for Harrison's 100th career TD catch. They tied Steve Young and Jerry Rice for most touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver with 85 career TDs on a 24-yard pass with 13:09 left in the game and a 31-3 lead.
Harrison said it's still early in their careers.
"You just never know when it's going to end or what it's going to be when it's done," Harrison said.
Manning also tossed an 8-yarder to James, and he finished 20 of 27.
Steve McNair did his best to carry the Titans as he scrambled four times for 40 yards, but he was the Titans' leading rusher. He was 28 of 37 for 220 yards, and his only touchdown pass came on a 6-yarder to rookie Bo Scaife with 4:31 left in the game.
That ended the Colts' chance to become only the second team since World War II to hold opponents to single digits in each of their first four games.
Tennessee looked like it might have a chance to rally at the end of the first half. Trailing 17-3, McNair found Drew Bennett on a 28-yard toss to the Colts 2, but the ball bounced out and appeared to be an interception by Bob Sanders.
Officials originally ruled the ball down for Tennessee, but Indianapolis took a timeout, then challenged the play. After review, referee Walt Anderson overturned the ruling and gave the ball to the Colts.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher found Anderson and talked to him as they walked off the field after halftime. Fisher called that a huge momentum swing even though he said the call was correct.
- The Colts improved to 19-7 on the road under Dungy.
- Manning's incompletion on third-and-4 in the first quarter snapped a streak of completions at 17, which tied the franchise mark set by Bert Jones in 1974.
- Harrison notched his 48th 100-yard receiving game.
- The Colts lead this series 12-10.
The Associated Press News Service
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