12-0 Colts match NFL record with 21st straight regular-season win

Monday, December 7, 2009
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is congratulated by tight end Jacob Tamme (84), kicker Pat McAfee and tight end Justin Snow (48) after the Colts scored a first-quarter touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Colts defeated the Titans 27-17 to improve to 12-0. (MICHAEL CONROY ~ Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning keeps finding new winning formulas, and the Colts keep making history.

Instead of another patented comeback or impressive air show, Manning opened December by playing keepaway from Tennessee and leading the Colts to a 27-17 victory over Tennessee for their record-tying 21st consecutive regular-season win.

"You try to tell these guys that when you win a couple in a row, or three or four in a row, this is not normal," the three-time MVP said. "It's not normal to win 10 or 11 or 12 games every year. But these guys that have been here five years would tell me it is normal for us. That's all they've done."

For Indy (12-0), the milestones all seem commonplace.

Sunday's list included:

* Matching New England's record, set from 2006 to 2008, with a chance to break it this week at home against Denver. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels was on Bill Belichick's staff during the Patriots' record run.

* Extending their NFL record of consecutive 12-win seasons to seven.

* And tying the 1990s San Francisco 49ers for most wins in a decade (113), a mark they could break against Denver.

"[The record] is one of those things we talk about. We kind of identify the milestones on Wednesday morning when we get in. We talk about some of the things we're accomplishing," coach Jim Caldwell said. "The guys appreciate it, but it's not something that goes to their heads."

It showed.

Colts players celebrated with a nonchalant stroll toward midfield, then shaking hands and trotting into the locker room as though it was no different than the previous 20 wins.

But the script was different. This time, Manning took a page out of Tennessee's playbook, relying on an effective ground game and a ball-control offense to stymie the Titans' comeback hopes.

Tennessee (5-7) was the last team to beat the Colts, on Oct. 27, 2008, and it wanted to bookend the streak.

While Chris Johnson ran for 113 yards, but the Titans struggled in the red zone.

Twice in the second half, the Titans went for it on fourth down deep in Colts' territory and failed both times. Tennessee also recovered an onside kick after scoring a late TD, then turned the ball over on downs.

Joseph Addai ran 21 times for a season-high 79 yards and two touchdowns. Manning was 24 of 37 for 270 yards and one TD, Pierre Garcon caught six passes for a career-high 136 yards and the combination of quick scores in the first half, and Manning's ability to run clock in the second sealed Tennessee's fate.

Indy needed just 1:58 to take a 7-0 lead, on Addai's 8-yard run. After Rob Bironas' short field goal, Addai scored on a 1-yard run to make it 14-3.

And when Young was picked off, Manning hooked up with Austin Collie on a 4-yard TD pass to make it 21-3 with 1:55 left in the first half.

Young answered with a 6-yard TD pass to Kenny Britt, but left Manning 20 seconds and two timeouts -- too much time.

Manning hooked up with Garcon for 18 yards on the first play and got 15 more when Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Addai ran for 5 yards on the next play and Matt Stover made a 43-yard field goal to give Indy a 24-10 halftime lead.

That was all Manning needed.

The teams traded time-consuming drives in the third quarter and when Manning burned up nearly half of the fourth quarter with a drive that led to Stover's 36-yard field goal with 3:14 to go, the Colts were back in the record book.

"It will mean a lot if we look back at it after 16 games," linebacker Clint Session said. "Right now, it really means nothing to us. We're just trying to win every game we play."

NOTES: Three Titans players were hurt during the game -- safety Michael Griffin (shoulder), tight end Jared Cook (concussion) and fullback Ahmard Hall (ankle). ... Colts WR Reggie Wayne caught four passes for 48 yards and now has 1,035 yards receiving. ... Manning's TD pass to Collie extended his NFL record streak of consecutive 25-TD seasons to 12.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: