OAKLAND, Calif. - Peyton Manning made sure the Indianapolis Colts came out ahead in a game it turned out they didn't need to win to stay in control of the AFC South race.
Manning threw three touchdown passes and iced the game with a 27-yard keeper to help the Indianapolis Colts beat the Oakland Raiders, 31-26, Sunday in a game that turned out to have little playoff meaning.
The Colts (9-6) allowed Jacoby Ford to return the opening kick for a touchdown; overcame a pair of interceptions by Manning in the second half; and survived four field goals from Sebastian Janikowski, including two from more than 50 yards, to move within a win of clinching the AFC South title for their ninth straight playoff berth.
But when Jacksonville lost, 20-17 in overtime, to Washington in an earlier game, the Colts knew that no matter what happened in this game they could clinch the division with a win at home next week against the Titans or a Jaguars loss at Houston.
The results in the early games also robbed this game of any real meaning for the Raiders (7-8), who were eliminated from playoff contention when Kansas City wrapped up a 34-14 win against Tennessee early in the first quarter of this game.
The Raiders hung close with the Colts for much of the game but were unable to score an offensive touchdown until Jason Campbell's 6-yard pass to Zach Miller with 1 minute, 51 seconds to play.
Manning took advantage of a 31-yard pass-interference call against Stanford Routt to throw a 4-yard TD pass to Blair White to give the Colts a 24-16 lead late in the third quarter. But little came easy for Manning against Oakland's defense. He threw a pair of interceptions in the second half, giving him 17 for the season, which is his most since 2002.
He responded from the second interception, which led to a field goal that cut his lead to 24-19, by leading the Colts on a 68-yard drive that was capped by a 7-yard TD pass to Pierre Garçon on third down to give Indianapolis a 12-point lead.
After the Colts recovered a late onside kick, Manning ran out the clock with a 27-yard keeper on third and 2 from the Oakland 31.
Indianapolis 7 10 7 7 – 31
Oakland 7 6 3 10 – 26
Oak–Ford 99 kickoff return (Janikowski kick), 14:48.
Ind–Addai 6 run (Vinatieri kick), 6:00.
Ind–FG Vinatieri 30, 14:51.
Oak–FG Janikowski 59, 9:31.
Oak–FG Janikowski 38, 1:55.
Ind–Tamme 18 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), :36.
Oak–FG Janikowski 51, 7:53.
Ind–White 4 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 2:55.
Oak–FG Janikowski 45, 12:59.
Ind–Garçon 7 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 7:38.
Oak–Z.Miller 6 pass from J.Campbell (Janikowski kick), 1:51.
First downs 27 16
Total Net Yards 370 290
Rushes-yards 39-191 20-80
Passing 179 210
Punt Returns 3-15 1-12
Kickoff Returns 5-123 5-188
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 2-0
Comp-Att-Int 16-30-2 29-42-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 3-21
Punts 6-42.8 6-46.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-42 10-116
Time of Possession 29:59 30:01
Rushing: Indianapolis, Rhodes 17-98, Addai 12-45, D.Brown 6-28, Manning 3-25, Garçon 1-(minus 5). Oakland, D.McFadden 11-45, Bush 3-19, J.Campbell 3-10, Reece 3-6.
Passing: Indianapolis, Manning 16-30-2-179. Oakland, J.Campbell 29-42-0-231.
Receiving: Indianapolis, Tamme 7-78, Wayne 3-40, Garçon 3-35, White 2-20, Addai 1-6. Oakland, Z.Miller 9-66, Heyward-Bey 4-40, D.McFadden 4-31, Bush 3-15, Murphy 2-36, Ford 2-21, Schilens 2-16, Reece 2-2, Myers 1-4.