The Rams jumped out to a huge 17-point lead in the first quarter on Monday night, much to the shock of Colts players and the fans packed into the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The Rams used four big plays to get there, but shortly thereafter their Monday Night Football highlight reel faded to darkness.
A 36-yard pass from Rams quarterback Marc Bulger to Torry Holt followed up by a 21-yard jaunt by running back Steven Jackson put the Rams on the board first.
After safety Mike Furrey grabbed Dominic Rhodes' muffed kickoff return, the Rams converted that miscue into a field goal. And then on their next possession, cornerback Jason David bit on a double-move by wide receiver Kevin Curtis, resulting in an easy 57-yard touchdown catch for the Rams and a stunning 17-0 lead.
But with just over 13 minutes left in the half, shortly after Mike Vanderjagt missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, the Colts' fortunes did a complete turnaround.
Linebacker Cato June snagged his first of two interceptions on the night and Bulger put himself in position to try to make a play on him. Linebacker David Thornton moved in to block Bulger, and incredibly the Rams quarterback droppped his shoulder of his throwing arm to absorb the blow. In one play, the Colts had snatched momentum and sidelined the Rams' starting quarterback for the night with a bruised shoulder.
Before the evening would end, the Colts defense would post four turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery) and two sacks.
Meanwhile, the Colts offense started to purr, rebounding from a first quarter that saw them achieve just 26 yards passing and 37 yards rushing.
By the end of the night, the Colts would use a balanced attack to light up the scoreboard and amass 363 total net yards of offense.
Edgerrin James rushed for three touchdowns and Dominic Rhodes ran one in as well. Reggie Wayne caught Manning's first touchdown pass of the night while Marvin Harrison caught the historic, touchdown duo NFL record catch on a 6-yard fade route to the right corner of the end zone with just over 9 minutes left in the game. The catch, his 86th touchdown from Manning, broke the tie with Steve Young and Jerry Rice for most career touchdowns by a quarterback and wide receiver in NFL history.
"We're just happy we got it out of the way, and we're looking forward to a lot more touchdowns in the future," said Harrison after the game.
"To share a record with a guy like Marvin Harrison is a real honor for me," remarked Manning.
Edgerrin James had an impressive night with 91 yards rushing in the first half and 143 on the night in addition to his three touchdowns.
And while it was a night of individual achievements, this was truly a team win. Reggie Wayne caught a team-leading 7 catches for 59 yards. Brandon Stokley had some key catches to keep drives alive. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney both forced fumbles. June had two interceptions, repeating the same feat from last weekend against the 49ers. Nick Harper grabbed the other interception on the night and picked up a fumble recovery as well. And the Colts' offensive line allowed just a single sack while opening up huge holes for James and Rhodes.
The Colts moved to 6-0 as the only undefeated team in the NFL. They'll play the 0-5 Texans this Sunday in Houston while the Rams (2-4) host the Saints.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Third-down conversions by the Rams in the entire first half.
2: Number of sacks allowed this season by the Colts.
5: Linebacker Cato June's NFL-leading interception total and the Rams' average yards per rush.
6: First-half catches by Rams receiver Torry Holt for 70 yards. He didn't have a catch in the second half.
7: Team-leading number of sacks by Robert Mathis.
8: Number of total tackles by Nick Harper and Bob Sanders to tie for the team-lead in this game.
10: Career interceptions by linebacker Cato June, half of which he earned in just 6 games this year.
17: Rushing yards by former Colts running back Marshall Faulk.
18.9: Kickoff return average by the Rams' Chris Johnson, who entered the game with a 24.9 average for the year.
20: Career forced fumbles by Dwight Freeney after he added one on Monday night. Robert Mathis earned his 13th of his career.
25: Career touchdown passes for Reggie Wayne.
72: Total offensive plays for the Colts versus just 51 for the Rams.
86: Career touchdown passes from Manning to Harrison, a new NFL record.
91: First-half rushing yards by Edgerrin James out of his grand total of 143.
93: Yards passing by Bulger on just two plays out of his 121 total yards in the first half.
191: Passing yards by Manning who completed 22 of 32 passes, had two touchdowns and no interceptions.
* The Colts had 187 net yards passing and 176 net yards rushing. "That's the key to our offense, to try to be balanced," Manning said after the game.
* The Colts converted two-thirds of their third down opportunities (8-12).
* Hunter Smith punted just once in the game. The Rams punted twice.
* Mike Vanderjagt missed his first field goal of the season, a 48-yarder. He converted his second one, making him 6 for 7 for the season.
* The Colts still haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. Steven Jackson finished with 88 yards.
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