Colts 26, Giants 21

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The venue may have changed from the Mannings' backyard or driveway basketball court to the NFL gridiron, but the basic fact remains:
Peyton still has the upper hand - though not by much.
The Indianapolis Colts hung on to defeat the New York Giants 26-21 Sunday night in a game dubbed "The Manning Bowl" for the NFL's first-ever matchup of quarterbacking brothers.
In reality, it could have been called "The Mistake Bowl," since it was the Giants' miscues that helped the Colts to escape with the win.
"We had some opportunities; I think we just let one slip away a little bit," Eli Manning said. "We played a good team and hung with them, but we can't dwell on this long."
In the weeks leading up to the game, Manning had spoken of how it took him years to beat his older brother at any type of game. He came close on Sunday night, but was done in by errors, some of his own making and some committed by his teammates.
He fumbled a handoff with running back Tiki Barber after the Giants had cut Indianapolis' lead to 16-14 in the third quarter. It came two plays after R.W. McQuarters' interception of Peyton had set up the Giants at the Colts 46.
Robert Mathis recovered for the Colts and Dominic Rhodes scored on a l-yard run to push the lead to 23-14. Though the Giants again closed to within two points, their final drive was stalled by a costly penalty on center Shaun O'Hara for an illegal snap.
After the game, the Mannings met at midfield, with Peyton patting his younger brother on the head.
"I told him I loved him, I'm proud of him," he said. "He played his butt off out there, made some huge plays, kept our defense off-balance and put a lot of pressure on our offense to score."
The Giants actually outgained the Colts 433-327 and outrushed them 186-55, led by Tiki Barber's 110 yards on 18 carries. But New York, one of the NFL's most-penalized teams last season, was whistled 10 times for 64 yards compared to Indianapolis' three penalties for 20 yards.
One momentum-killer came with the Giants trailing 23-21. Eli Manning's pass to Tim Carter - which would have earned a first down at the Giants 37 - was nullified by offensive pass interference on Carter. Replays appeared to show there was little or no contact on the play.
"There was definitely not a lot of contact," Carter said. "I was coming out of my break and was in my natural running motion, that's what you're taught to do. I didn't think the flag was on me. I wasn't sure what was going on. I'll have to look at the film."
On the next play, Manning was intercepted by Nick Harper, and Adam Vinatieri kicked his fourth field goal of the game for Indianapolis' final points.
There was a sense of relief after the game from both sides.
"I know both of those guys are probably glad that it's over," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "It was good. It was great for the nation to see. You saw two outstanding quarterbacks and two outstanding teams, but the build-up was something that wore on all of us. Now we can just concentrate on win No. 2."
Archie and Olivia Manning watched their sons from a luxury suite, sitting nervously through the game and showing little emotion.
"I'm glad we don't have to go through this for a few more years," Olivia Manning said, before adding, "I guess I'd take it if they managed to get to a Super Bowl together. That would be all right."
Statistically, there was little to differentiate the brothers. Eli Manning was 20-for-34 for 247 yards and two touchdowns while Peyton was 25-for-41 for 276 yards and one touchdown. Both threw an interception.
The Colts were nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring on all four possessions. They converted 9-of-11 third-down chances and controlled the ball for 17:37 in taking a 13-0 lead.
Eli Manning rallied the Giants, however, throwing touchdowns for 34 yards to Plaxico Burress late in the first half and Jeremy Shockey early in the third quarter. But in between, Peyton needed just 32 seconds to get the Colts in position for Vinatieri to make a 48-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
In contrast, Jay Feely missed a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter after Burress had made an acrobatic, juggling catch for 37 yards to the Colts 26.