Colts grab a play-off spot
Peyton Manning threw a touchdown for the 26th consecutive game
by Andy McKenzie
The Indianapolis Colts secured their first NFL play-off place for three years and ninth win in a row by defeating
the New England Patriots on December 12.
- With three games still to play, the Colts (11-2) clinched a place in the post-season and at least a tie for the AFC
East title with a 20-15 victory over the struggling Patriots. New England (7-6) have now lost four out of their last
five games, with genuine hopes of a play-off spot fading fast.
- The Colts were led by rookie Edgerrin James, quarter-back Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
Harrison broke team records for receptions and reception yardage in a season in catching six passes for 118 yards,
while James tied an NFL rookie record with his ninth 100 yard rushing game of the year. Manning enhanced his reputation
as one of the league's finest quarter-backs with another impressive game in extending his streak of at least one
touchdown in a game to 26 - the fifth longest in NFL history.
- St Louis (11-2) also booked their place in the play-offs and the division title with a 30-14 win at the
New Orleans Saints (2-11). The Rams, who had already clinched their first NFC West title for 14 years, moved
closer to home advantage in the conference and also created NFL history by becoming the first team to go undefeated
in their division a year after failing to win a game against divisional opponents.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars (11-1) clinched their fourth straight play-off place without having to play a game
over the weekend. Defeats by the Buffalo Bills (8-5) and the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) mean the Jaguars are
assured of some post-season action.
- Kansa City Chiefs (8-5) went into a tie with the Seahawks at the top of the AFC West with a thrilling
31-28 win over Minnesota (7-6). The Chiefs threw away a 21-0 lead and had to rely on a 38 yard field goal in the
dying seconds from kicker Pete Stoyanovich to overcome the Vikings (7-6).
- Tampa Bay (9-4) extended their winning streak to a team record of six games and took a step closer to the
division title with a 23-16 win over their rivals for the NFC Central crown Detroit. A 22 yard touchdown pass
by Shaun King to Mike Alsott with four minutes 18s left gave the Buccaneers a crucial win over the
- Miami Dolphins' recent slump continued as the New York Jets (5-8) came from behind for a 28-20 win.
The Dolphins (8-5), who opened the season 7-1, threw away a 13-6 final period lead and have now lost three straight
games. Ray Lucas led the Jets to success, throwing two touchdown passes to Keyshawn Johnson as the Jets
kept their play-off hopes alive.
- The Carolina Panthers (6-7) kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a shock 33-31 win over Green Bay
Packers (7-6). The Packers lost the game on the final play of the day and now face a fight for a wild card
entry into the play-offs.
- Dallas Cowboys (7-6) kept their unbeaten home record intact with a 20-10 win over the Philadelphia
Eagles (3-11). However, the Cowboys lost Emmitt Smith with a groin injury and Greg Smith was lost for
the season with a fractured tibia.