There’s more to the Indianapolis Colts than Peyton Manning and the other members of the triplets, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James.
Terrence Wilkins for one. A defense led by Chad Bratzke for another.
Manning passed for a franchise-record 440 yards and threw for four touchdowns as the Colts dominated the second half to beat Jacksonville 43-14.
Wilkins, playing his first game of the season, chipped in with nine catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. And the defense that blew a 21-point lead at home to Oakland two weeks ago showed up this time, sacking Mark Brunell five times including a safety, and picking off a pass that set up a score.
“It was good for us to show people that we have other weapons,” Manning said of Wilkins, who looked like the second receiver the Colts need to take pressure off Harrison.
“If they do double team Marvin, we can beat them with other guys.”
Manning Back on Track
The defense thrilled coach Jim Mora.
“They took a lot of criticism, a lot of it from me and from the media,” Mora said. “They shut them down in the second half, they got sacks, turnovers, played extremely well. You don’t beat teams like Jacksonville with just three players. You do it with complete offense, with defense and with good kicking game performance.”
But it was Manning’s show as the Colts went on a 22-0 run in the second half after leading by only a touchdown at halftime.
After throwing three interceptions in his first two games, he was perfect on Monday night, starting with a 76-yard TD pass to Harrison on the Colts’ third play from scrimmage. Manning also had a 27-yarder to Wilkins and a 16-yarder to Jerome Pathon as Indianapolis (2-1) took a 21-14 lead.
Manning added a 4-yarder in the final quarter for the first four-touchdown game in his two-plus NFL seasons. James completed the scoring with a 14-yard TD run.
Manning, who completed 23 of 36 passes, broke his own team record of 404 yards set against San Diego last Sept. 26. Johnny Unitas’ top total was 401 for Baltimore.
Wilkins, who missed the first two games with a concussion, almost doubled his career high of five catches as a rookie last year.
“I just seemed to connect with Terrence during the offseason and in training camp,” Manning said. “It was good to have him back.”
The Indianapolis defense, which entered the game with one sack, had five this time, two each by Bratzke and Ellis Johnson. Bratzke sacked Mark Brunell for a third-quarter safety, the first safety by the Colts since 1997. Mike Peterson had an interception that set up one of the first-half TDs.
“It was just a debacle,” Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin said. “That was about as big a nightmare as it gets.”
Brunell was 21-of-35 for 229 yards for Jacksonville (2-2) with touchdown passes of 9 and 26 yards to Jimmy Smith. But after getting 159 in the first half, Brunell had only 3 yards in the first 25 minutes of the second half, while the Colts were putting away the game — in the third quarter, the Colts outgained the Jaguars 143 to minus-2.
Fred Taylor, who played his first game of the season for Jacksonville after missing the first two with a knee injury, ran for 57 yards on 14 carries.
Huge Pass Got Things Started
The game started with an explosion, the 76-yard bomb from Manning to Harrison behind Aaron Beasley on the Colts’ third play from scrimmage.
Then it settled down until midway through the second quarter, when Brunell hit Smith with the 9-yarder that was first ruled out of bounds, then overturned on replay.
It turned out to be the first of four touchdowns, two by each team, in the final 7:36 before intermission.
But the second half was no contest as the Indianapolis defense asserted itself. Mike Vanderjagt’s 41-yard field goal and the safety made it 29-14 after three quarters and two quick TDs in the final quarter put it away.
“Peyton stayed in the pocket and made some good throws. They made some good catches,” Jacksonville cornerback Fernando Bryant said. “That’s the bottom line. You give them time, someone’s going to be open.”
This night, it was Wilkins.
That only makes it scarier for opposing defenses.