Nothing the Colts have done this season has been easy, and Sunday in Oakland the Raiders gave the Colts all they could handle. But, like the champions they are, Indy had enough, and topped the Raiders 21-14 thanks to a late TD pass from Peyton Manning to Anthony Gonzalez. The 20-yard score came with 4:49 left, and despite it being the first Colts TD of the day, it proved to be the game-winner.
The win is critical for the Colts, as it clinches the AFC South, and it also clinches a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs as they look to force a possible AFC Title game rematch with the Patriots. The Colts are now 12-2. “Everybody was shooting for us,” coach Tony Dungy said. “People talk about the post-Super Bowl letdown and everything like that. We haven’t experienced that. Our guys have fought and worked and played as a unit, and today we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people. It’s really been gratifying the way we had to do it.”
The Raiders played inspired ball against the Champs, one week after getting blown out in Green Bay. They took a lead after Justin Fargas went in from 2 yards out to make it 14-13 early in the fourth quarter. The Colts though responded, with Manning hitting some big plays, including a key third down to Reggie Wayne. All in all, Peyton hit all seven passes on the drive, and they went 91 yards to grab the lead. They also got the two when Joseph Addai went in to make it 21-14.
Oakland drove to the Colts 16 as they tried to get the tying score, but on fourth-down a pass was broken up by Kelvin Hayden intended for Jerry Porter. With ths loss, the Raiders fall to 4-10 on the season and now will have their fifth straight double-digit loss campaign. “Play after play after play they were just making plays,” Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. “We just couldn’t get one. We couldn’t get them in a situation where we had them and needed to make a play and got it done.”
Manning ended 22-for-39 for 276 yards. The Colts defense did a nice job, holding the Raiders to 253 yards overall. The Colts didn’t do much on the ground, as the Raiders held their running game game in check to the tune of 58 yards on 20 carries for an average of 2.9 yards per carry.
There were some bright spots for Oakland, as Fargas had 26 carries for 89 yards with the score. JaMarcus Russell played a bit in the third quarter, going 2-for-5 for 10 yards. Josh McCown went 13-for-24 for 94 yards with one score and he didn’t throw a pick and was not sacked.
Next week the Colts will take on the Texans at home. The Raiders will have a tough task ahead of them as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the 10-4 Jags.