So much for the worst slump of Peyton Manning's career.
Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the visiting Indianapolis Colts snapped their three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans, 30-28, last night to stay just a half-game back in the AFC South.
"Hopefully we can sort of build off this win," Manning said. "Nobody likes losing three in a row."
The four-time NFL MVP put his atypical struggles behind him with a crisp performance against a defense that hasn't intercepted a pass in 14 straight quarters. He completed 25 of 35 passes in his 63rd 300-yard game, tying Dan Marino for tops on the career list.
The Colts (7-6) haven't lost four straight since 2001 when their five-game slide prompted Jim Mora's famous rant about the playoffs. Now the only NFL team to reach the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons is back on track and will defend its AFC South title if it wins out.
"I think we're in a four-game playoffs and this was a playoff game tonight," Manning said.
Tennessee (5-8) has lost six straight to drop 2 1/2 games behind Jacksonville (7-5) in the division with three to play. The Titans can blame themselves for mistakes that led to each of the Colts' first three touchdowns, including two defensive penalties on third-and-goal and a high snap over the punter's head.
The Titans did snap out of their scoring slump, ending a 14-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown when Chris Johnson finished off a 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 49 seconds left in the second quarter.
Tennessee closed to 27-21 when Kerry Collins tossed his second TD pass of the night, a 4-yarder to Bo Scaife with 7:59 left in the game. The defense forced the Colts to go three-and-out, and the momentum seemed to swing to the Titans for the first time. But Tennessee went three-and-out, the fans booed when coach Jeff Fisher decided to punt on fourth-and-1.
Manning made them pay with a short pass to Pierre Garcon, and he shook off Jason McCourty and Chris Hope while safety Michael Griffin whiffed as the receiver slipped up the right sideline for a 43-yard play. Adam Vinatieri kicked his third field goal, a 47-yarder that made it 30-21 with 2:55 left.
The Titans used up every second trying to rally. Collins found Scaife again for a 2-yard TD pass as time expired.
* A spokesman for the former New York Jets game hostess who allegedly received inappropriate photos and phone messages from Brett Favre says she won't sue the Vikings quarterback if he's punished by the NFL.
Jenn Sterger's manager, Phil Reese, said that his client would like the league to "implement a program" to prevent unwanted advances - similar to those she is alleging Favre made. The alleged messages from Favre to Sterger were sent in 2008, the QB's only season with the Jets.
Reese said Sterger wants the league to discipline Favre before his career ends. "It's not a money story," he said, adding his client's goal is some acknowledgment that Favre was in the wrong.
Sterger's attorney has said the NFL has concluded its investigation and sent the findings to the commissioner's office and league lawyers for review. The NFL is not commenting on the status of the investigation.
Favre has said this season will be his last. There are four regular-season games remaining. The Vikings (5-7) host the New York Giants (8-4) this weekend, with Favre's status uncertain because of a sprained throwing shoulder.
* Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who has been fined four times this season for dangerous hits, says Baltimore guard Chris Chester should be disciplined for going after him. Harrison thinks Chester deliberately went after him while being called for a false-start penalty during an extra-point attempt Sunday. Chester came off the line of scrimmage and drove at Harrison, an unusual blocking technique because offensive linemen generally try to remain packed to avoid potential blocked kicks.
"It was uncalled for and cheap," said Harrison, who acknowledges he ran over Chester on a play during that drive, but said it was a legal hit.
* Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder says he is "personally frustrated we're 5-7," but urged patience for first-year general manager Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan.
* The head of the NFL's negotiating team says it will be much easier to reach a new labor agreement with the players union if the accord includes an 18-game regular season. "It's something that both sides recognize the value of, and so both sides will work hard to incorporate it into the new agreement," NFL executive vice president of labor and chief counsel Jeff Pash said.
* The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will embark on a $23.6 million expansion and renovation. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013, the hall's 50th anniversary.