Aerial Attack Sparks Indy
With running back Edgerrin James sidelined by a sore back, the Big 3 of the Colts was down to a dynamic duo. It was good enough, as Tony Dungy completed a joyous return to Tampa.
Led by the sizzling passing combination of Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis scored 28 fourth-quarter points Monday night to force overtime as a dazed Raymond James Stadium crowd sat in disbelief.
The gritty Colts then improved to 5-0 as Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3:47 remaining in the extra session for a 38-35 triumph. Vanderjagt had missed a 40-yard attempt on the previous snap, but the Colts were given another chance because Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. ``I just can't say enough about our offense,'' said a jubilant Dungy. ``To put up 35 points in the second half, that's just unbelievable.''
Facing the NFL's top-rated defense, the Colts roared back from a 35-14 deficit with three touchdowns in the final 3:37 to tie the score at 35. Harrison caught four passes for 103 yards in the fourth quarter, often burning second-year cornerback Tim Wansley, who was filling in for injured veteran Brian Kelly. The Bucs failed to adjust as Harrison flanked out to the right each time and displayed the precise routes and sure hands that led to an NFL-record 143 receptions in 2002.
Harrison finished with 11 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns while Manning completed 34-of-47 passes for 386 yards against a defense that had allowed only 22 points the first three games. ``I was just trying to keep everyone calm,'' Manning said. ``I'm just proud we were able to keep playing our game. Man, what a game.''
Trailing 21-0 after an ineffective opening half, Manning found Harrison behind Wansley for a 37-yard scoring pass early in the third quarter. The Colts appeared finished when Ronde Barber intercepted Manning and raced 29 yards for a touchdown that put the Bucs ahead 35-14 with 5:09 left in regulation. But Brad Pyatt's 90-yard kickoff return set up James Mungro's 3-yard scoring run, and after Indianapolis recovered an onside kick, Harrison's 28-yard touchdown catch pulled the Colts within 35-28.
Manning then directed an 85-yard drive with no timeouts remaining. Harrison again made the big play, splitting two defenders for a 52-yard reception that led to a tying 1-yard plunge by Ricky Williams. ``I can only tip my hat to Peyton Manning,'' Jon Gruden said. ``He made some miraculous throws, and they made amazing catches.''