o NFL Week 9: Manning's Team Better Than Old 17-0 Dolphins . . . Eagle Error: Owens Plays Hard . . . Bears Bore, Win . . Chiefs Not Tough Enough.
By Bob Oates
The sports fans who were stunned Monday night when the Indianapolis Colts routed defending-champion New England, 40-21, haven't seen anything yet. With Peyton Manning at quarterback, the 8-0 Colts are en route to 19-0, I'd say, as the second NFL team to ever win them all. They've been sneaking up on the NFL this year --- beating clearly outmanned opponents in the first half of the season. But the Patriots, though injury-ravaged, aren't stiffs.
Offensively, and even defensively, the Colts are much more powerful than the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who won all 17 games they played in a shorter NFL season. And this year, Manning's lone remaining regular-season opponent with the resources to put up a fight is Pittsburgh, whose quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has been in and out of the lineup with injuries all season.
The Colt-Steeler game is set for Indianapolis on Monday night, Nov. 28, with, after that for the Colts, only Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Diego, Seattle and Arizona.
In New England the other night, the turning-point play was Patriot tailback Corey Dillon's second-quarter fumble at the Indianapolis 18-yard line.
That was shortly before halftime, when Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, down by just seven points, 14-7, was driving toward the tying touchdown.
Instead, Manning, taking advantage of the break --- and also of a New England defensive team that was minus its best players --- instantly began driving the other way, moving the fast-moving, no-huddle Colts 73 yards to a halftime lead of 21-7. And Brady never came close to catching up --- in large part because New England's patched-together defense couldn't slow down the Colts and get him the ball.
The Patriots played with recently promoted second- and third-stringers in key pass-defense positions and without their two great defensive leaders, safety Rodney Harrison and 310-pound defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Over the years, the good pro club with the fewest major injuries has usually won the Super Bowl, and in 2005 that's the Colts.
SUBHED Eagles Err on Owens: He Plays Hard: