Work in Sports
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Do Indianapolis Colts fans expect anything less from Edgerrin James? James scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a three-yard TD run with 2:09 left, as the Colts rallied for a 30-23 victory over the floundering New England Patriots.
One week after James rushed for a franchise-record 219 yards and three touchdowns against Seattle, James came through again as the Colts (5-2) won for just the second time in the last 10 meetings with the Patriots.
James helped set up the decisive score when his 26-yard rush put the ball at the 3. On the next play, the University of Miami product raced up the middle to give Indianapolis a 27-23 lead.
"We had to go out and do what we are supposed to do," James said. "It looked like their game plan was to keep us off of the field. They did a good job of that, but we knew that we would be all right once we had a chance to get rolling."
New England (2-6) had a 4th-and-6 at its own 24 on the ensuing drive and, with one timeout left, elected to go for it. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe was blitzed and his dump pass intended for rookie Shockmain Davis fell incomplete.
Mike Vanderjagt booted a 36-yard field goal with 18 seconds left as the Colts won for the fourth time in five contests.
James had 20 carries for 124 yards and Marvin Harrison caught five passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Indianapolis improved to 8-1 when both players surpass 100 yards.
"You want to win every division game and since we lost to the (Patriots) two weeks ago, this was almost a must win for us," Harrison said. "In the fourth quarter, everyone made the plays that were necessary for us to come out on top."
Manning completed 16-of-20 passes for 268 yards and three TDs.
He has touchdown passes in 36 of 39 career games.
"It tells us a lot about the character of this team," Manning said. "Patience is very important. It is important to stay loose on the sideline because you obviously want some points."
Bledsoe gave the Patriots a 23-14 cushion lead late in the third quarter. On 4th-and-goal at the 1, Bledsoe outmuscled several defenders and barely snuck into the end zone.
Colts coach Jim Mora was irate as he tossed his flag to challenge the call, but it was upheld.
The 80-yard drive took just over four minutes to complete and was aided by a 40-yard pass interference call on cornerback Jeff Burris.
Indianapolis dodged several bullets on its way to pulling within two points. Manning had an interception dropped by cornerback Tebucky Jones and, on the next play, benefitted from an interference call in the end zone on Antonio Langham.
The Colts cashed in on the next play. Manning dropped back and threw a shovel pass to James, who avoided a tackle from linebacker Tedy Bruschi and stretched over the goal line with 6:16 remaining.
After being outgained, 216-111, in the first half, Indianapolis owned a 287-170 advantage in the final 30 minutes and has won nine of its last 11 at the RCA Dome.
New England scored on its first five possessions spanning the first three quarters, but three drives of over 70 yards resulted in just field goals. Adam Vinatieri connected from 27, 26 and 28 yards out.
The Patriots were blanked on four possessions in the final period. They gained 57 yards in that span with one first down and could not get past their own 29.
Bledsoe completed 23-of-34 passes for 231 yards and rookie J.R.
Redmond had 22 carries for 97 yards for New England, which has dropped two straight heading into its bye week. Troy Brown had six receptions for 78 yards.
"I felt like today was almost a mirror image of the Jets game we played earlier in the year," Bledsoe said. "We moved the ball down the field, were ineffective in the red zone, had to settle for some field goals and could not put points on the board."
Redmond caught a dump pass from Bledsoe and beat several defenders for a 19-yard TD pass in the first quarter as New England took a 7-0 lead. Bledsoe has thrown 20 touchdown passes in 10 contests against the Colts.
Harrison burned cornerback Otis Smith on two long touchdown receptions, including a 51-yarder later in the opening quarter to tie the game.
"It was a tough game for us, for me especially," Smith said. "I didn't play a couple plays very well, those two big plays. The receiver ran two perfect routes on two perfectly thrown plays."
"We just didn't do a good job on the deep ball," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "It was a team breakdown, not an individuals fault. There were a couple of problems with it and Peyton just made perfect passes on both of them."
Following Vinatieri's third field goal to put the Patriots ahead, 16-7, Harrison struck again. On the first play of the ensuing drive, he raced pass Smith for a 78-yard scoring reception as the Colts closed within 16-14.