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Colts Finish One Stride Ahead of the Vikings

Vanderjagt Kicks Game-Winner From 35 Yards With 0:02 Left: Colts 31, Vikings 28

By Jeff Rabjohns
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 9, 2004; Page D04

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 8 -- Two minutes 50 seconds on the clock. Tie game. The ball in Peyton Manning's hands.

"That's the situation you want to be in," the Colts quarterback said. "That's what Coach [Tony] Dungy talks about, being able to play at a high level when the pressure's the highest."

Colts' Peyton Manning (23 of 29 for 268 yards and 4 TDs) scrambles for 15 yards to help set up the winning field goal. (Brent Smith -- Reuters)

_____From The Post_____
Colts' Peyton Manning and Mike Vanderjagt sting Vikings, 31-28.
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NFL seals deal with TV networks for $8 billion.
_____  Week 9 Games/Results _____
Washington 17, Detroit 10
Baltimore 27, Browns 13
Buffalo 22, N.Y. Jets 17
Tampa Bay 34, Kansas City 31
Pittsburgh 27, Philadelphia 3
Arizona 24, Miami 23
Cincinnati 26, Dallas 3
Oakland 27, Carolina 24
Seattle 42, San Francisco 27
San Diego 43, New Orleans 17
Chicago 28, N.Y. Giants 21
Denver 31, Houston 13
New England 40, St. Louis 22

Indianapolis 31, Minnesota 28

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_____Mark Maske's NFL Insider_____
NFLPA Taking Steps to Discipline Agents (washingtonpost.com, Nov 9, 2004)
Giants' Strahan Out for Remainder of Season (washingtonpost.com, Nov 8, 2004)
Eagles Like Their New Corners Just Fine (washingtonpost.com, Nov 5, 2004)
_____Colts Basics_____
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_____Vikings Basics_____
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Player stats
Opponent comparison

After Minnesota tied the Colts with 2:54 to play, Manning took over at his 27-yard line. He led Indianapolis 55 yards, converting a third down with a left-handed pass, and Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 35-yard field goal with two seconds left, lifting Indianapolis to a 31-28 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

In a game pitting two of the top five scoring offenses in the NFL, it came down to the team with the last possession in front of 57,307 at the RCA Dome. Manning teamed with running back Edgerrin James for a nearly seamless game-winning drive.

Manning completed a screen pass that James turned into a 17-yard gain. Manning then scrambled for a first down, sliding feet first at the end of the play. Minnesota defensive end Lance Johnstone came in with a forearm to the head, adding another 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

That put the ball at the Vikings 26. The Colts later faced a third down, but Manning avoided the rush, switched the ball to his left hand and shoveled a pass to James for a first down at the Minnesota 15.

"A high school coach used to tell me you had to be amphibious when you're sprinting to the left," the right-handed Manning said. "I said, 'You mean ambidextrous?' He said, 'No, amphibious.' I guess that was his expression for it."

The Colts ran down the clock, and Vanderjagt hit the winner.

Manning completed 23 of 29 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns, improving his NFL-best passer rating to 121.2 for the season. James ran for 123 yards on 26 carries. The Colts improved to 30-6 when James rushes for 100 yards or more.

"We felt they'd do something to take our passing game away," Dungy said. "Edgerrin had a great day, got us going."

The Colts won in their first Monday night game at home since a 44-20 win over Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2000. The Colts' previous Monday night appearance was even more dramatic as they rallied from a 35-14 deficit in the final four minutes to win, 38-35 in overtime, at Tampa Bay last season.

The Vikings dropped to 5-3; the Colts improved to 5-3, snapping their first two-game losing streak since 2002.

"When you lose two in a row, you do start watching, start pulling for some NFC teams to beat the AFC teams," Manning said. "You're checking on Jacksonville and Houston and Tennessee.

"This was a huge game for us to win and hopefully get some momentum."

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