HOUSTON - Peyton Manning turned a colossal collapse by the Houston Texans into a stunning victory for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts scored 21 points in a late span of 2:10 — two touchdowns thanks to fumbles by Sage Rosenfels — then intercepted Rosenfels' last-ditch comeback attempt for a 31-27 win Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis (98) strips the ball from Houston Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels (18) during the fourth quarter of a football game Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008 in Houston. The Colts recovered the fumble. The Colts beat the Texans 31-27.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Manning threw two touchdown passes, connecting with Reggie Wayne on a 5-yarder with 1:54 remaining for the decisive points. Linebacker Gary Brackett returned a fumble by quarterback Rosenfels 68 yards for a score in between Manning's TD throws.
Rookie Tom Santi caught the other late score, a 7-yarder to bring the Colts (2-2) within 27-17 with 4:04 to go. It was his first NFL touchdown.
Backup Rosenfels, playing for the ill Matt Schaub, had the winless Texans (0-4) ahead by 17 points before losing two fumbles and throwing an interception. Texans fans had wanted to see Schaub replaced all season, and Rosenfels was nearly flawless for three quarters. Then came one of the most colossal collapses in the history of the young franchise.
After Manning found Santi for his touchdown, Indianapolis attempted an onside kick, but Houston recovered. On the next drive, Rosenfels ran right at defensive back Marlin Jackson, who upended him and knocked the ball loose. Brackett ran it in to make it 27-24.
On the ensuing drive, Robert Mathis sacked Rosenfels and stripped the ball at the Houston 19. Manning hit a leaping Wayne in the corner of the end zone, the play was reviewed, and the call was upheld.
Houston got back the ball with almost 2 minutes remaining, but Rosenfels was intercepted by Melvin Bullitt.
The Texans played the 100th game in franchise history in their hurricane-damaged stadium with the retractable roof open; the roof couldn't be repaired in time for Sunday's game. Houston was supposed to host Baltimore in Week 2 when Hurricane Ike hit, but that game was postponed until Nov. 9.
The rowdy crowd, which waited almost a month to see the Texans, held signs including one that read 'Ike took our roof but not our Texan Pride,' but was stunned into silence in the fourth quarter.
Rosenfels' miscues ruined good days by rookie Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson. Slaton ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns and Johnson bounced back from two poor games with nine catches for 131 yards. Johnson, who had 67 yards in the last two games combined, scored his first touchdown of the season on a 5-yard reception just before halftime for a 17-10 lead.
Mario Williams had two sacks as he stayed in Manning's face most of the day. Manning was 25-of-34 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Slaton brought Houston within 10-7 on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter set up when Jackson was called for pass interference on Johnson in the end zone. Slaton's other score came on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 27-10.
Houston settled for a 37-yard field goal by Kris Brown to tie it at 10 in the second period after Ahman Green tripped and fell on a direct snap. Green, playing for the first time since Week 1, had 12 carries for 47 yards.
Brown added a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Joseph Addai scored on a 1-yard run that gave Indianapolis a 10-0 lead. That drive was kept alive when Manning found Wayne for a 36-yard gain on fourth-and-1.
Wayne finished with seven receptions for 97 yards and Dallas Clark had five receptions for 81 yards.