The Colts gave their home fans a thriller to remember while they await their next game in Indianapolis in two weeks. And they gave their head coach the ball that deprived the Cardinals of a last-second victory.
With the Colts leading 17-13, the Cardinals mounted a drive from their own 11-yard line with 7:28 left in the game. Seventeen plays later, they lined up with just 22 seconds left on the clock on a 4th-and-goal at the Colts' 1-yard line. For the Colts defense, consisting of players who have seen little playing time during the year as the starters watched from the sideline, it was arguably their biggest play of the season.
Backup defensive tackle Larry Tripplett, who sees more playing time than many of the others who were on the field at the time, stepped up to meet Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown just short of the goal line. At the point of impact, McCown lowered his shoulder, turning the ball away from the goal line. As linebacker Gilbert Gardner joined in on the hit, Tripplett knocked the ball loose. Linebacker Rob Morris pounced on the ball as it rolled forward into the end zone.
Although the referees signalled touchdown, the play was reversed after it was reviewed on instant replay. The ball from the play was given to Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy who raised it up above his head for the sellout crowd at the RCA Dome to see.
The Colts jumped out to a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when Jim Sorgi, who replaced Peyton Manning after just one series, completed a nice 14-yard pass to tight end Ben Utecht. Sorgi put together a solid performance, completing 21 of 31 attempts for 207 yards, including 2 TDs and one interception on a tipped pass attempt.
The Cardinals responded with a 15-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a 28-yard Neil Rackers field goal. The result was disappointing for the Cardinals after setting themselves up at the Colts' 2-yard line with a first-and-goal. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett helped short-circuit the drive with consecutive tackles on the first two plays.
The Colts went in with a 10-3 halftime lead after Mike Vanderjagt converted a 44-yard attempt with 3:18 remaining.
Troy Walters grabbed a Sorgi pass in the end zone from 18 yards out early in the third quarter. But the Cardinals answered with a 25-yard touchdown from McCown to Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals receiver went over the 100 receptions mark for his season with six catches for 80 yards against Indianapolis.
In the fourth, the Cardinals pulled within four points as Rackers set an NFL record by hitting his 40th field goal of the season with just under 11 minutes remaining.
The Colts finish the season at 14-2, the first time in franchise history that the team has notched 14 wins or more. The 1968 and 1999 Colts both finished their seasons with 13 wins.
Tripplett, Morris Save The Day For Colts
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