Colts get back on course
Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He's just fine, thank you very much. Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns...
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He's just fine, thank you very much.
Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped their three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans 30-28 on Thursday night to stay just a half-game back in the AFC South.
"Nobody likes losing three in a row," Manning said. "That's new for us. Somebody asked me if we were in a slump. I said, 'I've been on an 8 ½-year hitting streak.' "
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical slump behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn't intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters, beating the Titans for a fourth straight time. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
Back in the state where he starred at the University of Tennessee, Manning nearly had a third touchdown pass but rookie receiver Blair White broke up a pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone.
"I was throwing to Reggie. I can assure you I was throwing to Reggie," Manning said. "But like I said, that's part of the learning process."
The Colts (7-6) haven't lost four straight since 2001 when their five-game slide prompted Jim Mora's famous rant about the playoffs. Now the only NFL team to reach the postseason in 10 of the last 11 seasons is back on track and will defend its AFC South title if it wins out.
"I think we're in a four-game playoffs, and this was a playoff game tonight," Manning said.
Tennessee (5-8) has lost six straight to drop 2 ½ games behind Jacksonville in the division with three to play. The Titans can blame themselves for mistakes that led to each of the Colts' first three touchdowns, including two defensive penalties on third-and-goal and a high snap over the punter's head.
"Every time we play the Colts, it's been the same thing," safety Chris Hope said. "By the time we figure out we can play with them and compete with them, we run out of time. It's been the same story the last few times we've played them."
The Titans did break out of their scoring slump, ending a 14-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown when Chris Johnson finished off a 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 49 seconds left in the first half. Johnson finished with 111 yards rushing.
• The head of the NFL's negotiating team said it will be much easier to reach a new labor agreement with the players union if the accord includes an 18-game regular season. Jeff Pash, NFL executive vice president of labor and chief counsel, said the league is "focused on a full 2011 season" and the owners want to have a deal in place "well before" the summer.
• Matt Cassel (appendectomy) hasn't yet been ruled out of Sunday's game at San Diego, but the Kansas City Chiefs are at least preparing as if it'll be Brodie Croyle starting at quarterback.
• Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt still isn't choosing a starting QB for Sunday's game against Denver, but speculation is centering on rookie John Skelton.
• Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy expects left tackle Chad Clifton (concussion) to play in Sunday's game at Detroit.
• A federal judge in San Francisco sentenced former 49ers star Dana Stubblefield, 40, to 90 days in jail for stealing his former girlfriend's mail.