EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Sept. 10, 2006) -- After beating little brother Eli, all Peyton Manning felt was relief and pride.
Relief that the much-hyped battle of the brothers was over, and pride in the way they handled it. No gloating, no giddy postgame interviews, no big scene as the two met when it was over.
"I told him I loved him," Peyton said after the Indianapolis Colts outlasted Eli and the New York Giants 26-21.
"I enjoyed watching him play in person," the elder Manning added. "He's every bit as good as he looked on TV. He's going to be a great player in this league for a long time. I'm proud to be related to the guy. I'm proud to be his brother."
As for the game itself, the "Manning Bowl" actually lived up to the hype. The brothers played well and so did their teams, though the Giants made far too many mistakes to win the first NFL game to feature two brothers starting at quarterback.
Peyton finished 25-of-41 for 276 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The two-time MVP also led the Colts to scores on five of their first seven possessions.
Eli was 20-of-34 for 247 yards and touchdowns passes to Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. He also had two costly second-half mistakes -- a fumble and an interception, both of which came with New York down two points. Both led to Indianapolis scores.
After it was over, the siblings came to midfield, surrounded by photographers, big brother patting little brother on the back of his head.
"It kind of hit me in the pregame when I was out there talking to someone and I see this guy walk by and it was my brother," Peyton said. "I found myself watching him during warmups. I was peeking at him during the national anthem. It was kind of neat to be on the same field as him, knowing that's my little brother out there."
Peyton threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark and Dominic Rhodes scored on a 1-yard run for the Colts' touchdowns.
Adam Vinatieri, the hero of two Super Bowl wins by the New England Patriots, kicked four field goals in his first game for the defending AFC South champions, including a 32-yarder with 1:12 to play to push the lead to five points.
Trailing 23-21, Eli Manning tried to drive the Giants for a late go-ahead score. A play after a questionable offensive pass interference call against Tim Carter denied New York a first down at its own 37, Manning was intercepted by Nick Harper and Peyton moved the Colts 19 yards for an insurance field goal.
"It was very difficult for me to think that play was a foul," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, adding that his team also hurt itself with way too many mistakes.
While Eli had a big fumble and interception, he wasn't the only one to make errors.
Giants defenders dropped two potential first-half interceptions that could have stopped scoring drives. Jay Feely missed a 40-yard field goal and the Giants had a plethora of penalties that slowed or ended drives, including an illegal snap by center Shaun O'Hara with 17 seconds to play that forced officials to take 10 seconds off the clock.
That allowed Eli Manning to throw one more pass -- and it fell incomplete.
The Giants, who also got a 110-yard rushing effort from Tiki Barber, had closed to within 23-21 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs with 8:01 to play. It marked the second time that the Giants, who had trailed 13-0 late in the first half, had rallied to close the gap to two points.
The 15-yard touchdown pass to Shockey cut the lead to 16-14, but Manning fumbled a snap near midfield and Indianapolis recovered, setting up Rhodes' touchdown.
Peyton Manning was nearly unstoppable in the first half. The Colts had the ball four times, scoring on each possession. Big brother hit 17-of-27 passes for 196 yards, converted 9-of-11 third-down chances and helped Indianapolis control the ball for 17:37 in taking a 16-7 halftime edge.
Vinatieri capped the first two drives -- which included a 17-play, nearly nine minute march to open the game -- with field goals of 26 and 32 yards for a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Seconds before the first field goal, Giants backup safety James Butler had a chance to end the first drive. But he dropped what should have been an interception of a Peyton Manning pass that was right in his hands.
Another mistake kept New York off the scoreboard following Vinatieri's second field goal.
Burress, who got called for two illegal blocks in the first half, made a one-handed catch for a 37-yard gain to the Colts 26. However, Feely missed a 40-yard field goal four plays later.
Peyton Manning made the Giants pay on the next possession, moving the Colts 70 yards in 10 plays and finishing it with a 2-yard strike to tight end Dallas Clark. Peyton outran blitzing safety Gibril Wilson on a rollout to the right and put a deft touch on a pass over the outstretched hands of Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, who was in zone coverage.
The touchdown gave Indianapolis a 13-0 lead, and for a moment the so-called Manning Bowl looked like it would be lopsided.
But Eli countered with a beautiful drive, moving the Giants 86-yards in eight plays. Barber got it going with 17 reception and two 11-yard runs, and Manning capped it with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Burress, who won a jump ball with Harper near the goal line.
The score got New York within 13-7 with 32 seconds left in the half, but that was enough time for Peyton to do some more damage.
Taking over at his own 38 with 25 seconds to go, Manning hit Marvin Harrison on three straight passes for 30 yards, setting up a 48-yard field goal by Vinatieri, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent to replace Mike Vanderjagt.
- WR Sinorice Moss, the Giants second-round draft pick, was inactive for the game. He missed most of training camp with a quadriceps injury.
- Giants G Chris Snee left the game late in the second with an ankle injury, the extent of which is not known. Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora left in the second half with leg cramps. Harrison had nine catches for 113 yards.
- Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined for 23 rushes for 55 yards in taking over for Edgerrin James as the Colts running back.