Share this article

print logo

COLTS KICK IT IN GEAR LATE TO CAP RECORD TURNAROUND

Coach Jim Mora said he would be happy with a one-point victory over the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday, his Indianapolis Colts granted his wish.

Playing catch-up on a dark, dreary, chilly afternoon, the Colts took their only lead when it mattered most -- with 4 seconds to play. That's when Mike Vanderjagt knocked down a 21-yard field goal to give the Colts a 29-28 nod over the Browns in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Vanderjagt's chip shot gave the Colts their 11th victory in a row, produced a 13th win in 15 games -- both figures tie franchise records -- and enabled them to improve their win total from a year ago by 10 games. That's the biggest one-season turnaround in pro football history.

Sunday's triumph, coupled with Jacksonville's loss at Tennessee, left the Colts tied with the Jaguars with the best record in the AFC at 13-2 heading into next Sunday's finale against the Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jacksonville still has a tiebreaker edge over the Colts in the pursuit of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (net points in conference games; the Jags are ahead by 14 points).

"The objective of this business is to win football games and we won today," Mora said. "It's a credit to our football team that we were able to come back and win. But I'm not really happy with how we played in some areas."

He was most unhappy with his defense, which allowed backup Browns quarterback Ty Detmer to throw for 173 yards and one touchdown and allowed a team averaging a league-worst 67.3 rushing yards per game to gain 141 yards on the ground.

A team that had produced six rushing TDs in 15 games notched three against the Colts -- Detmer's, and a pair of 1-yard bursts by Terry Kirby.

Kirby's second 1-yarder came on the final play of the third quarter, pushing the Browns' lead to 28-19 and forcing the Colts to deal with their biggest fourth-quarter deficit of the season.

Deal with it they did.

Quarterback Peyton Manning posted the seventh fourth-quarter comeback of his 31-game career.

James scored his third TD of the game, a 2-yarder, narrowing the deficit to 28-26. James' 17 TDs ties him for the third most in NFL history by a rookie. Only Gale Sayers (22 in 1965) and Eric Dickerson (20, '83) have had more.

The Colt defense then shut down Cleveland and the Colt offense drove from its 43 with 4:12 to play to the three. Vanderjagt then hit his chip shot.

"We did what it took to win the football game," said linebacker Cornelius Bennett. "Nobody's going to steal my joy when we went out and won the game."

There are no comments - be the first to comment