M E X I C O C I T Y, Aug. 20, 2000 -- In less than half a quarter, the Indianapolis
Colts’ Triple Threat scored more points against Pittsburgh than
three other teams combined for all preseason.
Peyton Manning threw two perfect touchdown passes, including a77-yarder to Marvin Harrison, and Edgerrin James had a 2-yardtouchdown run, all within the first 7:26 of the Colts’ 24-23victory over the Steelers on Saturday night.
The offensive trio that led the best turnaround in NFL historylast season appears ready for an encore this season. After tworusty games, Indianapolis (2-2) has had consecutive sharp outingsby its first unit.
The outburst against a Pittsburgh defense that had allowed 20points in three games was stunning. It took just seven plays and4:40 for all three touchdowns.
‘Not Talking Super Bowl’
Mexican reporters were so impressed that they bombarded Coltscoach Jim Mora with questions about winning it all this year.
“We’re not talking Super Bowl,” Mora said. “All we’re talkingabout is getting ready for the regular season.”
Manning was 9 of 14 for 174 yards with at least two of theincompletions being dropped. He hit Harrison twice for 85 yards,but also completed passes to six other players. James complementedthe air game with 29 yards on seven carries.
“We have a good team this year,” Manning said.
The Steelers (3-1) got within 21-10 with their starters, thenmade things interesting with its backups.
Third-string quarterback Tee Martin dove into the end zone with10 seconds left to put Pittsburgh within a 2-point conversion ofvictory, but running back Pepe Pearson was stopped at the 1.
Steelers Receive Support
At least the Steelers had the crowd on their side. About 90percent of the 87,145 fans in Mexico’s Azteca Stadium cheered forPittsburgh and nearly all wore yellow and black. Many wavedTerrible Towels.
Their reaction to the Colts was interesting. Indianapolisplayers were booed in pregame warmups, then lightly applauded whenintroduced. More polite clapping followed each Colts touchdown.
The fans even cheered embattled Pittsburgh quarterback KordellStewart, something he hasn’t heard much at Three Rivers Stadium.However, they booed when he threw an interception and whenever elsetheir favorite team messed up.
Stewart failed to get a first down on four of six drives and hadto convert fourth downs on the other two series, which ended in afield goal and a 1-yard touchdown run by Jon Witman.
He finished 8-of-18 for 82 yards with an interception in the endzone and a sack. That’s better than the 1-of-13 and 6-of-22 markshe brought into the game.
“It’s been a good experience down here in Mexico,” Steelerscoach Bill Cowher said. “I think we will grow from it.”
An hourlong rain before kickoff cooled temperatures into the 60sfor much of the game and turned the field into a muddy mess.
Pittsburgh’s Hank Poteat couldn’t blame the mud or the noise forfumbling a punt deep in his own territory following Indianapolis’first possession. The Colts recovered at the 11 and the rout wason.
On second down, Manning tricked the entire Pittsburgh defense ona fake handoff left, then rolled right and softly tossed a 10-yardtouchdown pass to wide-open tight end Ken Dilger.
The next series, which began at the Steelers’ 29 following a54-yard punt return by Payton Williams, was all James.
A 9-yard run was followed by a 3-yard gain that had another 8yards tacked on for facemasking. James got 6 yards on the nextplay, then bounced off two blocks for the touchdown.
Just 1:20 later, Indianapolis took over again its 23. On firstdown, Manning heaved a pass down the right sideline that Harrisoncaught practically in stride just past midfield and went into theend zone untouched.
“He just used his great speed to get right by their defensiveback,” Manning said. “With Marvin, you can just throw the ball upand he can go get it.”