The Indianapolis Colts have a new winning combination: patience and defense.
With Peyton Manning’s wide-open passing game mostly grounded Sunday, the Colts pounded away at Jacksonville, breaking through in the final nine minutes with a six-yard touchdown run from Ran Carthon and letting their suddenly stifling defense preserve a 10-3 victory over the Jaguars.
“We need to be able to win games like this,” Coach Tony Dungy said. “Good teams, if you don’t win the championship, you have to win games that go any kind of way.”
It wasn’t pretty for the Colts (2-0), but it was effective.
Manning, the two-time most valuable player, was off the mark, overthrowing receivers much of the day and looking out of sync as the Jaguars pressured him. He finished 13 for 28 for 122 yards with one interception and a quarterback rating of 44.0 -- his worst regular-season rating since December 2001.
The NFL records some expected to fall this week for most yards passing and touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver tandem never materialized. Manning connected with Marvin Harrison three times for 36 yards, leaving the duo 24 yards and three touchdowns short of their claim to the league’s best tandem.
Instead, the Colts relied on their running game. Edgerrin James ran 27 times for 128 yards, and Indianapolis used a 17-play drive that consumed nearly nine minutes before Carthon’s late touchdown finally gave the Colts the lead with 8:27 left.
The Jaguars (1-1) may have lost more than a game.
Byron Leftwich hobbled up the field during the final two minutes, getting the Jaguars to the Colts’ 22 before a pass to Jimmy Smith in the end zone was broken up by Bob Sanders on the final play.
“I don’t want to say what it is right now, but it wasn’t the knee,” said Leftwich. “I’m happy the knee is OK.”
Safety Donovan Darius, however, left with a sprained left knee in the second quarter.