By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2010; 2:14 AM
Seeking a championship-caliber quarterback, the Washington Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb on Easter Sunday and started a process, they hope, that will one day culminate in another Super Bowl appearance for the franchise.
Early in his Redskins career, McNabb has, at times, exhibited the leadership and clutch play so lacking in these parts for so long. On Sunday night, however, the Redskins and their fans watched the position of quarterback played in its highest form as Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a 27-24 victory.
"He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "I don't think that was a secret."
Manning provided the difference in front of an announced crowd of 87,883 at FedEx Field. He completed 66 percent of his passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns to help the Colts, who lost three fumbles and had to hold off the Redskins in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Redskins pulled within three points, 27-24, on McNabb's eight-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Keiland Williams with 2 minutes 46 seconds remaining in the fourth. Place kicker Graham Gano's successful point-after attempt capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive - but the Redskins would get no closer. Colts strong safety Aaron Francisco intercepted McNabb's final pass with 24 seconds showing on the clock.
McNabb wound up with 246 yards passing. But he threw two interceptions and had only a 67.5 passer rating. Manning finished with a 108.1 rating and usually displayed textbook form while making a number of difficult throws.
McNabb said the Redskins will learn from the loss.
"We've had opportunities to win all these games," he said. "Would of, could of, should of. We could say that. We're sitting right now, 3-3, so we'll do what we have to do to change that for next week to get the win."
Running back Ryan Torain was the Redskins' most impressive player on offense. The young back ran for 100 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns.
McNabb failed to keep pace with Manning early as the Colts built a 10-point halftime lead, and was unable to make enough plays late to help overcome the deficit, especially after losing Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley, one of his favorite targets, to a concussion after the third quarter. Cooley finished with five catches for 37 yards.
The Colts outgained the Redskins in total net yards, 469 to 335, and Manning again was the biggest star on the stage.
"Basically, he's a guy that's very savvy out there," said outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who forced a fumble while being credited with a sack of Manning. "What I mean by that is, he takes his time, he's very patient. He uses every second of the clock to read what he sees out there."
Manning preferred to focus on the Colts' mistakes and the role of the defense in overcoming turnovers. "The defense did a great job picking special teams up when they had to," he said, "and the defense really fought hard all night. They really did some good things with the ball at times."
Of course, Manning had help.
Running back Joseph Addai, who left the game with a shoulder injury early in the fourth and did not return, finished with 128 yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.5 yards per rush. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon had four receptions for 103 yards. He teamed with Manning on a 57-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Colts improved to 4-2. After consecutive victories before Sunday night's loss, the Redskins (3-3) no longer share the NFC East lead.
Manning completed 67 percent of his passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. With a passer rating of 118.4, he played the biggest role in the Colts outgaining the Redskins 294 to 159 through the first two quarters.
Manning threw a perfect deep pass on the right side and Garcon beat safety LaRon Landry and Hall to the end zone. Manning and wide receiver Austin Collie combined on a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Manning froze Rogers on a play-action fake and Collie ran past him to the back of the end zone.
Adam Vinatieri added a 43-yard field goal for the Colts. He also missed two field goals, including a 38-yarder.
McNabb, as he has done early in his Redskins career, struggled in the first two quarters. He passed for 100 yards, but completed only 53 percent of his passes. One of his passes was intercepted and he had a 45.9 passer rating.
Torain powered the offense with his running. He repeatedly broke tackles while gaining 68 yards and scoring on a nine-yard run. Gano missed a field goal attempt from 48 yards.
In the third quarter, however, the Colts were set back by their own turnovers.
Washington received the second-half kickoff and failed to gain a first down. After a punt, the Colts started at their 16-yard line. On the second play of the possession, Orakpo beat right tackle Ryan Diem and stripped the ball from Manning. Andre Carter recovered it at the Colts 13.
Torain eventually scored from one yard out and Gano's successful point-after kick cut the lead to 17-14 with 11:18 remaining in the third quarter.
But it took the Colts just 1:57 to extend the lead back to 10 points, 24-14, on Addai's 13-yard run through the middle of the Redskins' defense and the point-after.
Again, though, Indianapolis put the ball on the ground and left the door ajar for the Redskins. Lorenzo Alexander made another big play on special teams when he jarred the ball loose while tackling Colts punt returner Kenny Moore, and Byron Westbrook recovered it at the 39. Gano converted from 39 yards to cut the Colts' lead to 24-17.
Both were inactive, McIntosh because of a concussion suffered in the Week 5 win over the Green Bay Packers and Haynesworth after missing Wednesday's practice while he attended to family matters after the death of his younger brother.