Colts Back on Top in AFC South

The Colts' 23-17 win over the Bengals, coupled with Tennessee's 29-17 loss at Miami, gave Indianapolis sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

Now 6-3 for the season, the Colts will play at New England this week in a game that could go a long way in determining postseason seeding in the AFC.

One thing is certain, however. Indianapolis must find a way to clean up its offensive mistakes in time to face a pretty good Patriots team.

But as good as Peyton Manning is, injuries continue to limit what the Colts can do offensively.

That much was proven when the only experienced skill-position players seeing action against the Bengals, besides Manning, were wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.

Backups ruled the day for the Colts, as tight ends Jacob Tamme and Gijon Robinson tried to fill the void left by the season-ending loss of starter Dallas Clark to a hand/wrist injury.

With receivers Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Blair White out, undrafted rookie Brandon James was signed off the practice squad last week.

Throw in a second-year running back, Donald Brown, whose career has been plagued by his own injury problems, and an undrafted running back, Javarris James, and it should be fairly easy to see why Indianapolis continues to have a tough time maintaining any consistency when it has the ball.

"We just have to keep working and find a way to score some more points and keep our defense out of those pressure situations," Manning said.

The four-time league Most Valuable Player admits that maintaining any kind of consistency is a problem with the revolving door atmosphere of the Colts' offense. But it's a situation that the Colts have to continue to deal with for the immediate future.

"That is what we have to do. There is only so much that the coaches can do to prepare a young guy, a new guy, to play. We try and spend some time with them after (practice), kind of calling some plays and going through a mock drive of a game to give them a little feel for what it is going to be like on Sundays," he said. "It is your job to do everything you can to get them ready to play."

TRENDING: The Colts defense forced five turnovers in the win over the Bengals. Indianapolis picked off three Carson Palmer passes and forced fumbles by RB Cedric Benson and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham.

The Colts defense also recorded three sacks, including two in the game's final seconds to seal the victory.

LINEUP WATCH: WR Brandon James caught a career-high four passes for 36 yards in his first NFL game. James, an undrafted rookie, was signed off the practice squad last week. He also returned two punts in the game.

Another undrafted rookie, RB Javarris James, continues to impress. James rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries while scoring his third touchdown in two weeks.

Both Brandon James and Javarris James, no relation, have been called to duty due to injuries to WR Austin Collie along with RBs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart.

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 10,000 yards to two wide receivers. Manning and former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison combined for 12,766 yards. He has now teamed with Wayne for 10,005 yards. No other NFL quarterback has thrown for 10,000 yards to a wide receiver in league history.
  • CB Kelvin Hayden's 31-yard first-quarter interception return for a touchdown against the Bengals was his second TD this year. It marked the first time since 2005 that a Colts player returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a season (WLB Cato June).
  • PK Adam Vinatieri (355) surpassed Eddie Murray (352) for 11th place on the NFL's career field goals made list Sunday. Vinatieri had three field goals against the Bengals on Sunday. He also became the 12th kicker to surpass 1,600 career kicking points.
  • WR Blair White (shoulder), WR Austin Collie (concussion), CB Justin Tryon (foot), S Bob Sanders (biceps), RB Joseph Addai (neck), RB Mike Hart (ankle), LB Clint Session (elbow), LB Gary Brackett (toe) were pregame inactives.
  • S Chip Vaughn was waived.
  • WR Chris Brooks was signed to the active roster off the Colts' practice squad.


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