The 18 Best Indianapolis Colts Games of All Time (Updated 2/11)

This list is brought to you by Blue Blood: Tales of Glory of the Indianapolis Colts

These games were selected based upon the quality of the actual game, and not solely on its significance to the team. Defeating the Bears in Super Bowl XLI was the most significant win in franchise history, but it really wasn’t that great of a game to watch.  If there is a game you don’t see here, it might be listed under our Most Important Wins list. Check there first before you write us. We understand that this list is weighted heavily in favor of the Manning era, but let’s face it, that is how it should be.

1. New England Patriots 2007 Playoffs Colts 38 Patriots 34
A tremendous game that will go down for all time as one of the great NFL games, let alone Colts games. This is simply the greatest game in Indy Colts history. From Manning putting up 32 in the second half to Brady’s INT to Marlin Jackson, no Colts fan will ever forget where they were when the boys in blue sealed the deal and headed on to the Super Bowl
 

Hero: Peyton Manning. This game was a referendum on him as a player, and he came through in the biggest of ways.
 

Factoid: Demond called, dejected, at halftime from the Dome and wanted to know if he should leave and come home. Deshawn wisely urged him to stay for at least one drive into the 2nd half.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=q3SM6DIeZ6s

2. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2003 Colts 38 Buccaneers 35 (OT)
I suppose almost everyone at least threatened to turn this one off at some point during the night. The Colts trailed 21-0 at the half and by 21 at 35-14 with just 5:09 left to go in the game. Then something weird started to happen. Brad Pyatt ripped off a long kickoff return. The Colts pounded it in for a quick score. An onside kick actually worked. Manning hit Harrison on 4th down for another score. Tampa ran an offensive possession as if they were on crack, garnering a bizarre personal foul call to stop the clock before the two minute warning. Then, with the game on the line, Manning and Harrison hooked up yet again for 52 yards to set up a short TD run. The Horse survived an OT possession by the Bucs, and then Manning went to work carving them up on 3rd down, moving the ball into Vanderjagt field goal range. Like most big kicks he had with the Colts, Vandy shanked it. However, the officials stepped in with a ‘leaping’ penalty on the Bucs to give Vandy a second try. This time he slammed it off the upright and home for one of the most improbable comebacks of all time.

Heroes: Manning and Harrison. Harrison was called out by a ‘miked up’ Keyshawn Johnson in the first half. By the end of the game, Keyshawn was on the bench nursing a hammy and Marvin was triumphant with 176 yards rec and 2 scores. Manning was as clutch as they come down the stretch and seemed to be willing the team to victory.

Factoid: The game was Dungy’s return to Tampa and his birthday. It was also nearly ruined by my visiting mother-in-law who proclaimed the ‘Colts will come back’. It was sort of one of those Pollyanna-ish expressions by non-fans that drive the die-hards crazy. Then when they did come back, she said the next day, “Well, I knew they would”. I wanted to die.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Yr2sDXvNfuw

3.  New England Patriots 2009 Colts 35 Patriots 34

One of the many iconic games in the series of the decade, the Patriots jumped all over the Colts early.  Randy Moss had an incredible first half, hauling in multiple long passes, including a 63 yard touchdown.  The Patriots built a 24-7 first half lead on the undefeated Colts.  The Colts answered with a touchdown before half time, but still trailed the Pats by 10 heading to the fourth quarter.  After another New England score gave the Patriots a 17 point lead, the Colts came roaring back. Two quick Peyton Manning lead touchdown drives cut the Pats lead to just 34-28 with 2:23 to go in the game.  Indy needed one more stop to get the ball back.  On third down, rookie corner Jerraud Powers knifed in front of a Tom Brady pass, knocking it down.  On fourth and two with 2:08 to play, Bill Belichick decided the Patriots should go for it from their own 28 yard line, rather than risk punting the ball back to a red hot Peyton Manning.  Brady fired a pass to Kevin Faulk at the 31, but he bobbled the ball and was hit immediately by Melvin Bullitt.  The contact drove him back inside the 30, and the ball was awarded to the Colts.  Suddenly facing a chance to win the game, Manning went into a slow down. He hit Reggie Wayne in bounds and ran the ball with Addai down to the one.  On second and goal with :16 left, Manning threw a seed to Wayne on a slant. He caught the back half of the ball for the game winning touchdown, completing one of the most unlikely and gratifying comebacks in Colts history.

Hero: Peyton Manning.  This game showed that Manning had completely revolutionized football.  No coach would ever have dreamed of going for a fourth down deep in their own territory, but Belichick feared Manning. He knew two minutes was too much time and that his only chance to win was to go for it.

Factoid: Belichick was pilloried in the media for his decision, but most statistical analysis showed it was a valid choice.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=xjXHiicVaPU

4. San Diego Chargers 2004 Colts 34 Chargers 31 (OT)

Played the day after Christmas in 2004, this game had plenty of significance and drama. The Colts and Chargers were playing to settle the 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, and Peyton Manning was stuck on 47 touchdown passes, one short of the single season mark held by Dan Marino. The Chargers started strong and Manning threw a pick near the goal line. When LT scored to put the Chargers up 15 early in the fourth, things looked bleak. Dom Rhodes answered the bell and ran back the ensuing kickoff for an 88 yard touchdown. The teams traded empty possessions (including a missed FG by Vandy), and Indy took over with 3:42 to play and three timeouts. Faced with a 4 and 4 almost immediately, Manning then took off his blue and white jersey to reveal that he is in fact Superman. He waved the punt unit off the field and promptly converted the 4th down with a pass to Reggie Wayne. He marched the team down field finally hitting Brandon Stokely for the record breaking pass on a post route the two made up at the line of scrimmage. Still down two, the Colts tied the game on a conversion by Edge, and when they won the toss in OT, everyone in the building knew the Chargers would never see the ball. A scant four plays later, Vanderjagt converted the game winner.
 

Hero: Duh. Manning owned that game. The pass to Wayne on 4th down was ballsy, and the strike to Stokely was amazing. I leaped in the air as the ball left Manning’s hand, because everyone in the Dome could see Stokely was totally uncovered.

Factoid: I attended this game with my parents-in-law. My father-in-law is a huge Chargers fan and drove me a little crazy that day. He cheered every random play (All Right! Gain of 4!). This made the comeback all the sweeter.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=S2NfjC3WSVc

5. At Dallas Cowboys 1996 Colts 25 Cowboys 24

The ’96 Colts were a seriously great team who were destroyed by injuries. Their amazing come-from-behind-on-the-road-vs-the-defending-Super-Bowl-Champions-and-apparently-a-ton-of-hyphens was truly one of the great games in franchise history. The Harbaugh-led Colts started the game with a long crushing drive that lasted nearly 11 minutes, but ended with a field goal thanks to a horrible offensive pass interference call on Ken Dilger. The Cowboys then ripped off 21 straight points and the Colts were given up for dead. Harbaugh led a pair of field goal producing drives that pulled Indy to 21-9 at the half. The Colts put together a pair of touch downs to pull ahead 22-21. Dallas got a long field goal to go up 24-22 with 13 odd minutes left in the 4th quarter. Carey Blanchard banged home the eventual game winner with 51 seconds left, but that left almost enough time for Hall of Famer Troy Aikman to bring back Dallas. They made it to the Indy 40 and tried a 57 yard field goal to win it at the gun. Chris Boniol’s try was dead on, but hit the cross bar and bounced harmlessly away. The Colts had pulled a major stunner, and looked prime to roll early in ’96.

Hero: Blanchard. He hit 4 field goals including the game winner. He accounted for 13 of the 25 Colt points.

Factoid: Even though I attended college only two hours from Indianapolis, there were no Colts fans on campus. As I watched the game in the commons with other students, there were more Dallas fans than Colts fans. This is one of the single biggest changes over the past 10 years. Colts fans can be found in all corners of Indiana now.

6.  At Houston Texans 2008 Colts 31  Texans 27

On some very rare occasions, one game can become a microcosm of the larger state of the team.  This was the case early in 2008.  The Colts were struggling early in the season, coming off their by at 1-2.  Injuries were mounting, and it was becoming clear to everyone that perhaps the 2008 weren’t going to be the juggernaut we all foresaw.  Facing a backup QB in Sage Rosenfels, the Colts squandered an early 10-0 lead, and rolled over, playing dead for more than two quarters.  With just over 8 minutes to go in the game, Houston’s Steve Slaton scored from a yard out (after busting a demoralizing 41 yard run a few plays earlier).  The Colts were dead at 27-10 with 8 minutes to play.  Then one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history began.  Manning capped what seemed like a cosmetic drive with a fourth down TD to Rookie Tom Santi, but with just 4 minutes on the clock, the Colts were still down 10 and didn’t recover the onside kick.  On third down, as he dove toward the sticks for the first down that would have ended the game, Sage Rosenfels was hit by Freeney and Brock.  The ball came loose and Gary Brackett returned it 68 yards for a score.  On the Texans next possession, Robert Mathis played the role of Superman, and executed one of the most amazing strip sacks in Colts history.  The Colts quickly took the ball 20 yards for their TD in just 2:10, as Manning hit Wayne for acrobatic score just before the two minute warning.  Melvin Bullitt then sealed the game with pick.  The Colts had won, and the 2008 season was back on.

Hero: Freeney and Mathis.  Though Brock was originally credited with the first forced fumble, replays would show it was Freeney who knocked it loose.  Along with Manning, these two players time and again lifted the 2008 Colts to improbable wins.

Factoid: Angry and frustrated by the obvious flaws with the team, I posted a game recap declaring the season “Done” at the five minute mark.  It was quickly replaced with a picture of Reggie Miller

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cmY_bkpbyME

7. At Denver Broncos 2002 Colts 23 Broncos 20 (OT)

This game was always ignored by those who questioned the Colts ability to win on the road in bad weather. On a snowy Sunday night in November, the Colts and Broncos played a classic back and forth game that marked one of the last times that Mike Vanderjagt was clutch. Denver jumped to 13-3 lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Colts responded with a pair of lightning quick touchdown drives. After another Denver score midway through the fourth put the Colts down three, they failed on a couple of attempts to even up the game. When Manning and the offense took over at the 20 with 1:40 to play, they still needed a field goal. Manning worked the ball down field, to put the team in range for a 54 yard try with just seconds on the clock. Vandy came out onto the snow covered field and buried the tying kick. The Colts won the toss in OT and marched down field stalling out around the 34. Vanderjagt came on again and 51 yards later, he delivered the Colts an incredible OT win.
 

Hero: Mike Vanderjagt. He’s an ass, but on that night he was great. He hit 3 FGs, including 2 from beyond 50 yards to tie and win the game. For a kicker, it doesn’t get better than that.

Factoid: Dungy was originally going to punt in OT, but Justin Snow convinced him to let Vandy try again. In this game (the 11th of the season), Harrison went over 100 catches for the year. He would later go on to break the record for most receptions in a season.

8. At Miami Dolphins 1999 Colts 37 Dolphins 34

After the debacle that was the first Dolphins/Colts game of the season, the Colts were hungry for revenge and their first division title since 1987. The Colts jumped out to an early 17-3 lead thanks in part to an insane run by Edgerrin James. The Dolphins battled back and the game was largely back and forth all day with the Colts staying just a step ahead. With just seconds to go, Marino put the Fins in position for a Mare field goal to tie the game. Manning got the ball with 29 seconds to play and two time outs. After a couple of quick strikes and timeouts, Vanderjagt banged home a massive 53 yarder at the gun to win the game. This game featured a young Manning out dueling an aging Marino and was an instant classic

Hero: Edge was sick in the first half of this game. He finished with 131 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Manning’s drive was clutch as was Vandy’s kick.

Factoid: Chad Cota made a rare play in this game when he recovered a fumble. Realizing that he was surrounded only by Colts, he stood up, and walked untouched 20 yards into the end zone for a first quarter TD.

9. Green Bay Packers 1997 Colts 41 Packers 38

During one of the worst Colts seasons ever (one so bad that it sewed up the number 1 pick and Peyton Manning), an 0-10 Colts team faced off against the defending champion Green Bay Packers. The crowd was at least 40% Packer fans, and the game seemed to start according to script. The Pack was up 14-3 when Paul Justin, a forgotten connector between the Harbaugh and Manning eras, drove the Horse down field for a score. Then things got crazy. A pair of Favre turnovers (fumble and INT) were both returned for scores, the second on a nifty lateral from Blackman to Classic Colt Jason Belser. The Colts inexplicably led 24-14. The Pack roared back with two straight touchdowns to make the score 28-24. A Blanchard FG made the score 28-27 AT THE HALF. The Colts and Packers traded FGs into the early fourth quarter, before a Lamont Warren touchdown and a 2 point conversion with just over 6 minutes to go gave the Colts a 7 point lead. Favre responded very quickly to tie the game. Justin then moved the Colts downfield and picked up a key first down to Dilger at the one yard line with 1:22 left. The Colts then smartly killed the clock and Blanchard banged home the game winning FG as time expired. The devastated Packer fans left the dome with chants of, “If you can’t beat us, you’ll never win the Super Bowl!” ringing in their cheese coated ears.

Hero: Paul Justin 24 of 30 for 340 with a TD and a 2 pt conversion. Totally unexpected, but he had the best day of his career.

Factoid: This was the Colts third consecutive win over the defending Super Bowl champs (49ers, Cowboys, Packers). The Packers wouldn’t lose again until the Super Bowl. Mike Holmgren decided to let Terrell Davis walk into the end zone for the go ahead touch down because he was afraid the Broncos would run out the clock like Indy did. Also, I brought a friend from college to this game who was a guy who sort of lived a charmed life. He seemed to skate by on luck. All the guys at school became convinced that the Colts would win just because he went to the game. Sure enough, his presence touched off the upset of the year.

10. At Denver Broncos 2006 Colts 34 Broncos 31

Last team with the ball wins sounds like a cliché, but it summed up so many games the 2006 Colts played. This late afternoon classic was no exception. The Broncos had the lead at the half, 14-6. The Colts went on a long drive to start the second half, and then converted a short field after recovering a Jake Plummer fumble for a 20-14 lead. The infamous run defense then almost took over for the Colts. They gave up a rushing score at the end of the 3rd quarter and trailed again 21-20. Vinatieri nailed a long FG, but the Broncos rammed the ball down the field for a 28-23 lead with less than 7 to play. Manning and Wayne responded by completely abusing a young Denver corner and with 3:56 to play, the Colts took a 31-28 lead after a 2 point conversion. Gilbert Gardner struck back by abandoning his hole and letting Denver rip off a 48 yard run. Fortunately, the defense stiffened, and Denver settled for a long field goal and a tie with just 1:49 to play. 1:49 is waaaay to long to give #18 however, and unfortunately for the Denver, Darrent Williams was still on the field. Manning calmly moved the Colts down field to set up a game winning field goal try from Adam Vinatieri with just two seconds on the clock. By the time the dust had settled, the Colts were 7-0 for the second straight season.

Hero: Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning. Manning was unstoppable and Denver knew it. Wayne finished with 10 catches for 138 and 3 scores. The third touchdown to Wayne was a thing of beauty.

Factoid: Heading into the game the Denver defense had been nearly impenetrable allowing only 44 points through 6 games. Denver had specifically designed their defense to beat Manning and the Colts.

11. At Kansas City Chiefs 2004 Playoffs Colts 38 Chiefs 31

This classic matchup in the AFC divisional round pitted two blistering offenses against each other. The Colts marched into Arrowhead as underdogs, but were carrying momentum from their blowout of the Denver Broncos a week prior (Manning’s first playoff win). Very little defense was played all day as each team mounted long drive after long drive. Priest Holmes was his usual dominating self as he ran for 176 yards and two scores. Despite his best efforts the Colts were in control most of the game, and a 19 yard touchdown pass to a young Reggie Wayne put the Colts up 14 points near the end of the third quarter. Dante Hall answered right back with a 92 yard kickoff return for a score. The teams would trade touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Colts were able to hang on for a breathtaking win.

Hero: Peyton Manning was nearly flawless as he threw for 304 yds and 3 touchdowns. This game will go down as one of his most impressive playoff performance given the hostile crowd of nearly 80,000.

Factoid: This game lived up to its billing on its way to becoming the first NFL playoff game that featured no punts.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=1KdbcsjXVIw

12. At Pittsburgh 2008  Colts 24 Steelers 20

The Colts were in real danger of not making the playoffs in 2008 thanks to injuries at almost every key position. Entering at just 4-4, the Colts trailed by a 17-7 score before rallying thanks to gritty play by Manning and a pair of timely picks from Ratliff and Tim Jennings. With 3:04 to play, Manning hit Dom Rhodes out of the backfield for the go ahead score. The Colts had come from behind to win in Pittsburgh for the first time in 40 years. The Steelers would later go on to win the Super Bowl. Manning threw for 3 TDs and no picks against the best passing defense in the league.

Hero:  Manning, Tim Jennings, and Eric Foster.  Foster made back to back plays on the goal line to stone the Steelers on 3rd/4th and goal from the 1.  Jennings late pick of Roethlisberger was a big time play and gave the Colts the ball down three.  Finally, Manning played a brilliant game against a brutal defense.

Factoid: This was the first Colts win in Pittsburgh in 40 years.  To pull it off, the Colts had to: 1. Out rush the Steelers  2. Come up with a goal line stand. 3. Overcome a 10 point deficit.  This was one of the most unlikely wins of all time.

13. At Minnesota 2008  Colts 18 Vikings 15

Fighting a battered psyche following an opening game home lose to the Bears and a rash of injuries on both sides of the ball, Indy found itself down 15-0 late in the third quarter on the road to Minnesota.  At this point, Peyton Manning connected with Anthony Gonzalez on third and six.  Gonzo scampered 58 yards before leaving Colts fans with their hearts in their throats as he lateraled to Reggie Wayne, who took it to the one yard line.  The short TD run and a Manning to Wayne TD followed by a two point conversion by Dominic Rhodes tied the game.  With time winding down, Indy’s D for only the second time all day, forced the Vikings into a three and out.  When the Colts got the ball, Manning literally drilled a pass by a Viking defender’s ear to Wayne on third and eight.  This play set up Adam Vinatieri’s game winning 47 yard FG with 3 seconds left (made all the more nerve wracking for Colts fans, because he had missed earlier from 30 yds).

Hero: Peyton Manning  This is the kind of game that Manning haters never seem to notice or appreciate.  The Colts couldn’t rush the ball at all (19 carries for 25 yards) making them totally one dimensional.  Playing virtually on one leg after missing all of the pre-season with a knee injury, and with Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark and Tony Ugoh not available, Manning stood up to a relentless Vikings pass rush to help deliver this win.  It is an overused cliché, but 18 really did will this victory.

Factoid: Being outnumbered roughly 15 to one by Viking fans in the Florida bar I was watching this game at, I wisely kept my mouth shut, even during the Colts frantic comeback.  However, my involuntary scream of “YES” with an accompanying fist pump following the dramatic Manning to Wayne pass, quickly dispersed the despondent purple clad crowd, even before AV’s Game winner.

14.  Buffalo Bills 1988 Colts 17 Bills 14
Going into the last game of the 1988 season, the Colts desperately needed a win and a Cleveland loss to make the playoffs. A quarterback controversy had been brewing all year between Jack Trudeau and Gary Hogeboom, and in the last game of the season, one faction had its revenge. With the Colts trailing 14-3 in the fourth quarter, Trudeau got hurt and Hogeboom replaced him. He threw two touchdown passes to seal up a comeback win. Simultaneously, Houston was beating Cleveland in Cleveland 23-7. The playoffs seemed assured. Unfortunately, as we filed out of the dome the crowd was informed that the Oilers had collapsed and Cleveland won 28-23 scoring the last 21 points of the game. We were all depressed, but the game itself was great.

Hero: Gary Hogeboom. His late game drives gave the Colts a chance.

Factoid: My dad claimed this was the only time in his life that he rooted for a player to get injured. Starting in the 3rd quarter, he shouted “get hurt! Get hurt!” every time Trudeau dropped back to pass. He claimed an injury was our only chance. He was right.

15 At Miami Dolphins 1995  Colts 27 Dolphins 24 (OT)
A Captain Comeback classic, the Colts trailed the undefeated Dolphins 24-3 at the half.  Harbaugh rallied the team with three second half touchdown passes (two in the fourth quarter).  He hit Aaron Bailey with 1:17 to play to tie the game and force the OT. The Colts roared back to steal the win in OT on a chip shot by Blanchard thanks to five straight completions by Harbaugh.

Hero: Harbaugh.  He won the starting job with a similar miracle comeback a couple of weeks before against the Jets, and quickly established himself as the leader of the team with this clutch win.

Factoid: Blanchard hit his second GW FG of the season.  He would hit another the next week, and total four different game winners on the season.

15. Washington Redskins 1990 Colts 35 Redskins 28

This game was played on a Saturday night, three days before Christmas, because Christmas Eve was a Monday. In Jeff George’s Rookie year, the Colts had a rough back and fourth game with the Skins.  The Colts took an early lead, but Washington closed the gap thanks to two long field goals by Chip Lohmiller; the second was a 56 yarder as the half expired that clanged off the crossbar and went through.  The Skins opened a 25-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Colts roared back on the strength of 21 points in the fourth.  Jeff George started the rally with two TD passes sandwiched around a FG for Washington.  Then, with just minutes remaining and the score tied, Alan Grant picked off a Mark Rypien pass taking it 25 yards for the game winning TD.

Hero:  George. The rookie had 252 yards and 3 TDs to move the Colts to 7-8 on the year, and keep hopes of a .500 rookie season alive.

Factoid: The Colts passed out weird masks of the MNF announcers.  This was meant to mimic the prank they pulled during the Halloween Massacre.  Instead it just came out creepy as I was given a Dan Dierdorf mask, with dog ears and an elf hat. It made absolutely no sense.  This game made the list especially because at 14 years old, I declared it to be the best game I had ever seen live.

16. At Miami Dolphins 2009 Colts  27 Dolphins 23

This game stuck a knife in ‘time of possession’ forever.  Manning hit Dallas Clark for an 80 yard touchdown pass to open Monday Night Football, and the rest of the game was a blur. The Dolphins held the ball for more than 45 minutes of game time, but the Colts managed touchdown drives that lasted :12, 3:17, and :32.  Miami took a 20-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, as the Colts were incapable of stopping the run.  Manning responded with with a 49 yard pass to Clark (who had 183 yards receiving on the day) to set up the tying touchdown.  The Dolphins ground out a long field goal drive, but Manning responded by hitting Pierre Garcon on a flanker screen that he busted for a 48 yard touchdown to give the Colts the lead. Miami’s final drive ended as Bethea picked a ball off in the endzone to preserve the win.

Heroes: Manning and Clark. Peyton’s ‘microwave’ offense was flawless, and Clark’s two long receptions were the antidote to the Dolphins’ ball control offense.

Factoid: No team had ever won an NFL game with less than 15 minutes of total possession.

17. San Francisco 49ers 1995 Colts 18 49ers 17

The defending champion 49ers came to down, and showed little respect for the Colts.  Leading 7-6 late in the first half, the 49ers eschewed a field goal that would have put them up 4 points at the half.  Instead, the Colts stopped the fourth down play, and ensured that a back and fourth game would ensue.  The Colts gave up the lead on a 51 yard field goal, but Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh was just coming into his own.  He drove the Colts downfield, where Carey Blanchard buried a 41 yard field goal.  The 49ers had a chance to win the game with 41 seconds left, but Doug Brien missed a 46 yarder, and the Colts hung on. “HE MISSED IT! HE MISSED IT! HE MISSED IT! HE MISSED IT!” was the call from Bob Lamey.

Hero:  Blanchard.  He hit four field goals and propelled the Colts to huge upset win.

Factoid: The Colts had 6 sacks in the game, including two by one of the most hated Colts ever, Trev Alberts.  This would mark the first of three straight years in which the Colts would knock off the defending Super Bowl champion.

18At New York Jets 2006 Colts 31 Jets 28

Riding high after conquering the “Manning Bowl” and two division opponents, the Colts headed to the Meadowlands to face Chad Pennington and the Jets. A promising 7-0 start was soon wasted as the Jets rode a rare onside kick and the Colts’ horrific run defense to a 21-17 lead with 7:55 remaining in the game. Then, as he often does, Peyton Manning took over the game with a spectacular 12 play, 68 yard drive that was so efficient that it only required two 3rd down conversions; a 10 yard pass to Dallas Clark on 3rd and 6 from the Colts’ 48 and a 2 yard TD pass to lesser-known Colt Bryan Fletcher. The Colts led 24-21 with 2:34 remaining and victory seemed assured. Then, as often happened in 2006, the special teams royally screwed up. The one good kickoff that day by Martin Gramatica was returned 103 yards for a touchdown by Justin Miller. Just seconds after leading his team 68 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, 18 had to do it again. No problem. Peyton delivered again with an equally impressive 61 yard drive that included a sick 19 yard pass to Marvin on 3rd and 6 that Peyton threaded after avoiding the rush, starting to run, and then somehow seeing 88 get open at the sideline during all of this. Peyton then finished the drive by running it in himself from the 1 yard line and put an exclamation mark on it by getting up and spiking the ball in a rare show of pure emotion. The Jets’ last gasp with 8 seconds left proved futile as their multi-lateral final play finally ended near the Colts 30 with Jason David intercepting one of the laterals.

Hero: Peyton Manning. When the pressure was on him the most, Manning was at his best, completing 11/14 passes for 96 yards over the final 2 drives as he single-handedly willed his team to victory…twice.

Factoid: This was Reggie Wayne’s first game after his brother, Rashad, was killed in a traffic accident. Dungy and the team told Reggie that he didn’t have to play in the Jets game, that he could come back when he was ready, but Reggie was adamant that playing and helping out his teammates was what his brother would want him to do. His numbers during the game were modest (4 catches for 74 yards), but the courage he showed playing in a football game a little less than a week after was brother died was admirable.

Submitted by Cass

Honorable Mention

At San Diego 2008  Colts 23 Chargers 20

The Colts season had already begun to turn the corner thanks to hard fought wins in the previous three weeks, but few wins in 2008 were as difficult or dramatic as the Sunday night game against the Chargers. The Colts had built a modest cushion of 20-10, but the defense flagged late and the Chargers came back. With time running out, and overtime a near certainty, Manning rallied the Colts for a final drive. Taking the ball with just 1:26 on the clock, 18 positioned the Horse at the San Diego 48 with :26 seconds left. Facing a fourth and 1, Tony Dungy went for it, and 18 hooked up with 88 who broke free down to the San Diego 34. Adam Vinatieri got redemption for missing a game winner the year before and drilled the 51 figgie to give Indy a huge win.

Hero:  Robert Mathis, Dungy, Vinatieri.  With the Chargers driving early in the second half, Mathis had a brilliant sack strip of Rivers to change the momentum of the game.  Dungy deserves credit for his ballsy fourth down attempt, and finally Adam Vinatieri drained the game winner.

Factoid:  The officials almost blew the game.  With 26 seconds left, the clock was temporarily stopped for a measurement.  Dungy’s decision to go for it hinged on the officials running the clock (per the rules) once the ball was spotted.  That would have forced Norv Turner to call a time out, or give the Colts a chance to run a play with only about :10 on the clock (and a time out).  A running clock greatly reduced the risk to the Colts of giving the ball back to the Chargers with time for them to throw for a FG.  Instead, the officials mistakenly didn’t wind the clock, and Manning snapped the ball with :26 instead of :10 left.  Fortunately, he hit Harrison for a huge first down, and they quick snapped Addai for a yard before stopping the clock in time for AV to hit the FG

At Jacksonville Colts 31 Jags 24
Peyton plays a perfect game, and seals up the MVP award on quasi-national TV.  Garrard throws a late pick 6, and the Colts complete a 14 point comeback.

At Miami 1992 Colts 31 Dolphins 20
A back and forth game ends on Steve Entman’s 90 yard Int return to end the game.  Dan Marino was driving for the winning score when the rookie #1 pick took it the distance to seal the game.

Have another game in mind or a memory of one of these? Send your comments to: 18to88@gmail.com

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