AFC South Time Machine: Indianapolis Colts' Forgotten Game

Nate DunlevyContributor IDecember 3, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 01:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown in the final minutes of the game against New York Jets on October 1, 2006 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Colts won the game 31-28.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

All week, I'll be looking a great game from each team in the AFC South that fans may have forgotten. The idea to try to capture something of the essence of the team from remembering great wins of the past.

The Indianapolis Colts are up first. Fans remember the 2006 playoffs and their run to the Super Bowl, but there were some spectacular games in the regular season that are easy to forget.

In Week 4, the Colts traveled to New York to take on the Jets. For three quarters it was a pedestrian 14-14 affair, but in final quarter of the game, the pace became frenzied. The Colts and Jets traded the lead back and forth, as the Colts led with their offense, only to have their run defense and special teams give back the lead.

With the Colts trailing 21-17, Peyton Manning methodically ground up the clock and moved the Colts into position for the win. The 12-play drive required only two third-down conversions as Manning surgically took apart the Jets. His touchdown to Bryan Fletcher gave Indianapolis a 24-21 lead with just 2:34 to go.

Despite the advantage, victory was far from assured. Justin Miller of the Jets responded to the Manning touchdown pass with a 103-yard return for a score. Just like that, the Colts were trailing again, and Manning had to go back to work.

What followed was vintage Peyton. Manning deftly drove the Colts down for the go-ahead score, aided by an incredible pass to Marvin Harrison on 3rd-and-6. The play was probably the single most impressive pass of Manning's career as he moved to scramble, suddenly pulled up short and winged a strike to Harrison for the conversion.

Manning himself snuck in for the winning score with less than a minute to play, punctuating a virtuoso fourth quarter with a savage spike. He had gone 11-of-14 for 96 yards and two scores (one passing, one rushing) over the final two drives.

If there is one single game that encapsulates the good, the bad and the brilliant of the past decade of Colts football, the 31-28 win over the Jets in 2006 is surely the one.