The 2006 Colts surrendered 5.33 rushing yards per attempt, by far the worst since the merger, and seventh-worst in NFL history. Still, the Colts won the championship with the help of the most statistically efficient offense in the league.
Indianapolis opened the regular season on the road against the New York Giants on September 10, 2006. In a much-hyped and highly anticipated matchup dubbed "The Manning Bowl", Colts QBPeyton Manning led the Colts against the Giants and QB Eli Manning, who is his younger brother. This contest marked the first time in NFL history that two brothers started at QB opposite one another. On an opening drive that lasted nearly nine minutes, the Colts went 58 yards on 17 plays, only to be held to a 26-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal in his first regular-season appearance as a Colt. Indianapolis scored again on another Vinatieri field goal, this one a 32-yarder, before finally finding the endzone on a 2-yard pass from Peyton Manning to TEDallas Clark. The Giants trimmed the Colts' lead on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to WRPlaxico Burress, though the Colts responded promptly with another field goal before the half expired. The Giants struck first in the third quarter with another touchdown pass from Eli Manning, this time 15 yards to TE Jeremy Shockey. It proved to be too little too late, however, as the Colts increased their lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by RBDominic Rhodes. A 1-yard touchdown run by Giants RB Brandon Jacobs made the game interesting in the final minutes, but Indianapolis responded with one last field goal and timely defensive plays down the stretch, and were able to seal the victory.
In their Week 2 home-opener against AFC South rival Houston, Indianapolis continued its offensive dominance by starting the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass from QBPeyton Manning to WRBrandon Stokley and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning to rookie running backJoseph Addai. In the second quarter, kicker Adam Vinatieri successfully converted a 39-yard field goal attempt to push the Colts' lead to 17–0. The Texans responded with a field goal of their own, but the Colts tacked on another field goal as time expired to end the half. The third quarter witnessed more scoring as Peyton Manning completed a touchdown drive on the first possession of the half, this one a 15-yard touchdown pass to TEBryan Fletcher. Five minutes later, Adam Vinatieri converted another field goal for Indianapolis, this time from 38 yards out. Houston showed signs of life in the fourth quarter as QB David Carr completed a 33-yard touchdown pass to TE Owen Daniels. Indianapolis would respond, however, with a 2-yard touchdown run by RB Dominic Rhodes. The Texans answered on Carr's 1-yard touchdown pass to TE Mark Bruener, but the Colts scored yet again, this time on a 3-yard TD run by RB Ran Carthon. Houston scored one more time in the final moments as David Carr completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Andre Johnson, but the game was never as close as the final score indicated. This victory improved the Colts' record against the Texans to 9–0. Also noteworthy, QB Peyton Manning surpassed Johnny Unitas for the most pass completions in franchise history. Manning accomplished this feat on his third completion of the game.
Peyton Manning finished the game 26 of 38 with 400 yards passing and three touchdowns. David Carr finished with 219 passing yards on 22 of 26 passes completed and also had three touchdown passes as well. Neither quarterback threw an interception, but Carr did fumble the football three times. Colts RB Joseph Addai finished the game with a career-high 82 rushing yards, and also had a touchdown reception. Peyton Manning was sacked twice in this game, and David Carr was sacked four times.
Jones-Drew 7 yard pass from Leftwich (Scobee kick)
Playing again in front of the home crowd, the Colts faced a big test in their AFC South rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville scored first on a 4-yard touchdown run by QBByron Leftwich. The Colts were not able to respond until early in the second quarter when WR/PRTerrence Wilkins returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. Indianapolis grabbed the lead for the first time in the game during the third quarter on QB Peyton Manning's 30-yard touchdown pass to TEDallas Clark. In the fourth quarter, Manning increased Indianapolis' lead on an uncharacteristic two-yard touchdown run. That score put the Colts up 21–7. The Jaguars, though, would get to within a touchdown late in the game on Byron Leftwich's 7-yard TD pass to RBMaurice Jones-Drew. That score, however, proved to be the last of the game as Indianapolis hung on for the victory, and improved their record to 3–0.
Quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 14 of 31 with 219 passing yards for one touchdown pass, while Byron Leftwich finished 16 of 28 with 107 passing yards for one touchdown pass. Leftwich also threw two interceptions. RB Maurice Jones-Drew had 103 rushing yards for Jacksonville, and Marvin Harrison had 6 catches for 94 yards receiving. Jacksonville KickerJosh Scobee missed both of his field goals, and they proved crucial in the game in the late stages.
The Colts traveled to The Meadowlands for a showdown with the New York Jets. This would be the second time this season that the Colts played at Giants Stadium, as they played the New York Giants in the regular season opener. Indianapolis scored first on a 6-yard touchdown run by running backDominic Rhodes. The second quarter, though, was taken over by the Jets as they tied the game on QBChad Pennington's 33-yard touchdown pass to WRJerricho Cotchery, and took the lead on RB Kevan Barlow's 1-yard touchdown run. The Colts tied the game just before halftime on a 2-yard touchdown run by rookie RB Joseph Addai. After a scoreless third quarter, kickerMartin Gramatica, filling in for the injured Adam Vinatieri, made a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth to give Indianapolis the lead, 17–14. But New York regained the lead, scoring on a Kevan Barlow 5-yard touchdown score. Colts QB Peyton Manning rallied the Colts on their next possession, leading them on a scoring drive that led to a 2-yard touchdown pass to TEBryan Fletcher. Illustrating perfectly the back-and-forth nature of the contest, the lead changed hands once again as DBJustin Miller returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to quickly move all the momentum to New York's side. But Indianapolis took the setback in stride as Manning methodically marched the Colts up the field and scored the game's final points on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Facing a long field and with only eight seconds on the clock, on the game's last play Chad Pennington completed a pass up the middle to RB Leon Washington, who lateraled the ball to wide receiver Brad Smith in a desperate attempt to score a touchdown reminiscent of "The Play" between Stanford University and the University of California. Five laterals and three fumbles later, the Colts ended any hope of a Jets miracle comeback by recovering the final fumble of the play as time expired.
Quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 21 of 30 for 217 passing yards and one touchdown, Chad Pennington was 17 of 23 for 207 yards passing and had one touchdown pass and one interception. Manning was sacked twice while Pennington was sacked three times. Colts rookie running back Joseph Addai had a career-high 84 yards rushing as the Colts improved their record to 4–0.
Following their close win against the Jets, the Colts returned home for a Week 5 matchup with AFC South rival Tennessee. Surprisingly, the Titans took the lead early as rookieQBVince Young ran 19 yards for a touchdown in what would be the first quarter's only score. In the second quarter, Tennessee expanded its lead to 10–0 on a 22-yard Rob Bironas field goal. Indianapolis cut the deficit with six minutes left in the third quarter on QB Peyton Manning's 13-yard touchdown strike to WRMarvin Harrison. However, Tennessee countered on Rob Bironas' 47-yard field goal, which gave the Titans a 13–7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Showing the resolve that allowed them to come from behind in their two previous games, the Indianapolis offense delivered what turned out to be the game-clinching score with only five minutes left in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne to give the Colts a 14–13 lead. That ended up being the final score after Vince Young could not convert on a hail mary pass in the end zone. With the win, the Colts stayed undefeated and expanded their lead in the AFC South to two games over second place Jacksonville.
Peyton Manning finished the game 20 of 31 for 166 passing yards with 2 touchdown passes and one interception, and Vince Young finished with 63 passing yards on 10 of 21 pass attempts and threw one interception also. Tennessee running back Travis Henry had 123 rushing yards in the loss.
Thrash 5 yard pass from Brunell (Cooley pass from Brunell)
Coming off their bye week, the Colts gave a solid offensive performance at home against the Washington Redskins. Indianapolis won the contest 36–22 despite being down 14–13 at halftime. QBPeyton Manning, who was hit hard by defenders twice in the first half, rebounded resoundingly in the second half with 3 touchdown passes in the third quarter. On a day when Manning was almost perfect, he and WRMarvin Harrison connected for two touchdowns. The performance also saw the pair move up in their respective career yardage lists; Manning passed Jim Hart to move into 14th place in all-time passing yards and Harrison passed Irving Fryar to move into eighth on the career receiving yardage chart. Washington QB Mark Brunell threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions, but his performance could not prevent the Redskins' third consecutive loss going into their bye week.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 25 of 35 for 342 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Washington quarterback Mark Brunell completed 27 of his 37 pass attempts for 226 yards passing and two touchdowns. Colts rookieRBJoseph Addai had a career-high 85 yards rushing on 11 carries, and Redskins RB Ladell Betts carried the football 10 times for 52 yards. Colts WR Reggie Wayne had his first big game of the season, as he had 7 catches for 122 yards receiving and one touchdown. In 2011, Tony Dungy speculated that the hard hits Peyton Manning suffered in the first half of the game were the start of the neck issues that would ultimately lead to Peyton Manning Leaving the Colts in 2012.
Wayne 9 yard pass from Manning (Wayne pass from Manning)
Elam 49 yard field goal
Vinatieri 37 yard field goal
After a convincing win over a struggling Redskins team in Week 7, the Colts faced one of their toughest opponents of the year in the Denver Broncos. The Broncos sat atop the AFC West standings with a 5–1 record thanks in large part to a strong running game and a dominating defense that had only allowed two touchdowns on the season. Both defenses played well in the first quarter, which ended with the Colts leading 3–0. Denver took the lead early in the second quarter on a Jake Plummer one-yard touchdown run. Indianapolis cut the lead to one on their next drive, which ended in a 30-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal, but the Broncos answered with a 15-yard touchdown pass from QB Jake Plummer to WRJavon Walker just before halftime to expand their lead to 14–6. On their first drive of the half Indianapolis came within one point of the lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne. On the Colts' next possession, Wayne and Manning hooked up again for another touchdown, this one a 5-yard TD pass to take the lead 20–14. But the Broncos came back with a one-yard touchdown run by Mike Bell, giving them a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter. After a Vinatieri field goal and another Denver touchdown, the Colts were down by 5 points with a little over half of the fourth quarter remaining. After the Colts received the kickoff, they marched down the field. The drive ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Wayne, the third time they hooked up for a touchdown in the game. The Colts were now up by one point and decided to go for the two-point conversion to go up by a field goal. The conversion was a success as Manning found Reggie Wayne in the end zone again. Jason Elam came through for Denver and made a 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 31. The final drive of the game resulted in an Adam Vinatieri field goal with two seconds left to put Indianapolis up by three.
Manning ended the game with three touchdown passes, all of them to Reggie Wayne. RookieRBJoseph Addai had a career-high 93 yards rushing on only 17 carries. DEDwight Freeney was credited with half a sack, his first of the season.
The Patriots played from behind for the rest of the game and could not catch up to the Colts. Patriots QB Tom Brady was intercepted four times in the defeat, and Colts LBCato June intercepted two of those passes. Also of note, Colts WR Marvin Harrison had 8 catches in the game for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The victory marked the Colts' second straight versus the Patriots after having lost the previous six. With the win, the Colts became just the second team in NFL history to begin consecutive seasons 8–0 (the Green Bay Packers began three consecutive seasons 8–0 from 1929 to 1931). Also, with 326 yards passing QB Peyton Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
The Colts defeated the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, 17–16, becoming the first team in NFL history to start consecutive seasons 9–0. The game's scoring consisted of four touchdowns and three field goals. Buffalo struck first, as they converted a field goal attempt by KRian Lindell. The Colts then followed with a score of their own, a 1-yard TD pass from QBPeyton Manning to WRReggie Wayne to take the lead with 11:14 left in the half. The Colts had a 7-point lead near the end of the half, but Buffalo swung the momentum their way as Terrence McGee returned a fumble 68-yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 10.
On the opening possession of the third quarter, the drive ended in a 5-yard touchdown run by Colts rookieRBJoseph Addai. Terrance McGee then took Adam Vinatieri's kickoff 88 yards to the Colts 12-yard line. Buffalo could not come up with anything on the rest of the drive and had to settle for another field goal. On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Lindell made another field goal for the Bills to reduce the Colts' lead to 1 point. When the Bills drove down the field on their next possession, they had a chance to take the lead, but Rian Lindell missed his field goal, and the Colts ran out the clock to move to 9–0. With the Colts' win and a loss by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 13–10 to the Houston Texans, the Colts are now four games ahead in the AFC South.
The Colts suffered their first defeat of the season, 21–14, at the hand of the Dallas Cowboys and became the last team to lose during the 2006 NFL season. The game was full of turnovers, and neither team could take care of the scoring opportunities. Colts QBPeyton Manning threw two interceptions and one of those was returned for a touchdown by Cowboys OLBKevin Burnett early in the second half. The first quarter was back-and-forth as each possession ended with turnover after turnover. After Cowboys QB Tony Romo was sacked by DEDwight Freeney, Colts WRMarvin Harrison fumbled, and after the Cowboys punted, Manning was sacked by Jay Ratliff and Bradie James recovered the fumble. After a couple of punts by both teams, Peyton Manning & Co. pushed the Cowboys deep in their own territory thanks to the great rushing by rookieRBJoseph Addai. The Colts reached the 4-yard line, and on third down, Manning attempted a pass to the endzone, but in a controversial situation, SSRoy Williams nudged TEDallas Clark near the end zone, and while Clark fell down, Williams intercepted a Peyton Manning pass for the second time in his career, and gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 7-yard line. The Cowboys scored all of their points in the second half after a first half that was full of turnovers.
Colts QB Peyton Manning went 20 of 39 for 254 passing yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, Cowboys QB Tony Romo was 19 of 23 with 226 passing yards and had one interception. Colts WR Reggie Wayne had 7 catches for 111 yards, and Cowboys RB Julius Jones rushed the football 22 times for 79 yards. Also of note, former Colts kickerMike Vanderjagt missed two of his three field goals during the game.
This Week 12 showdown between the Colts and Eagles was originally scheduled for 1:00 ET, but due to the NFL's "flexible-scheduling" system this year, the NFL moved the game to Sunday night at 8:15 ET. This was the Colts' third primetime game this year on NBC, and the Eagles' first. There were 10 scores in this game, 5 each half. The first three scores of the game were by Colts rookieRBJoseph Addai. He had a 15-yard TD run, a 10-yard TD run, and another 15-yard TD run after that. His fourth rushing touchdown of the game came in the second half. The Eagles' first score came with about a minute to go in the half. QuarterbackJeff Garcia threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to L.J. Smith on that drive. On the Colts' next drive, combined with a couple of passes and a 13-yard run by Dominic Rhodes, the Colts put KAdam Vinatieri in field goal range to get some more points before the end of the half. At the half, the Colts had a 17-point lead, 24–7. After a Reggie Wayne touchdown catch, the Colts were up big on the Eagles, 31–7.
On the ensuing possession for the Eagles, Garcia found Reggie Brown in the end zone for a 3-yard score. But with less than 11 minutes left in the game, the Eagles scored once more and reduced the Colts' lead to 10 points. On the following possession, the Colts ran the ball 13 times with no passes and Joseph Addai had the last 8 carries on that drive including another 4-yard scamper, his fourth touchdown of the game. That touchdown also tied the Colts franchise record for the most rushing touchdowns in a single game.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Eagles were desperate to score some points, but while Jeff Garcia was deep in his own territory, he dropped back to pass and was hit by both DERobert Mathis and DE Dwight Freeney. Mathis knocked the ball out of Garcia's hand right before his arm started going forwards and CBKelvin Hayden picked up the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. The Colts were up by 24 points after that last score. On the next possession, the Eagles put in backup QB A. J. Feeley in place of Garcia, and Feeley ended up getting the football knocked out of his hand by Robert Mathis (his second forced fumble of the game) and the Colts recovered and ended up running out the clock to conclude the game.
Joseph Addai tied the NFL record for most touchdowns in a game by a rookie, with 4 touchdowns in this game. During this game, the Colts lost SSAntoine Bethea, TEDallas Clark and OTRyan Diem all to injuries in the first half, and they did not return.
This game at the Tennessee Titans saw the return of two crucial players for the Colts: WRBrandon Stokley and FSBob Sanders. The Colts started hot in this game, and the only score of the first quarter came off a 68-yard touchdown pass from QBPeyton Manning to WR Marvin Harrison. The next score for the Colts came in the second quarter, as RBDominic Rhodes had a 2-yard run for a touchdown. With less than seven minutes to go in the half, the Colts were up 14–0 on Tennessee. But, within a few minutes Titans KRob Bironas made a 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 11 points. The Colts' next possession uncharacteristically ended abruptly when Peyton Manning's pass intended for TEBryan Fletcher was intercepted by OLBKeith Bulluck with 31 seconds left in the half. 20 seconds later, Titans QB Vince Young connected with WR Drew Bennett for a 20-yard touchdown pass to shrink the Colts' lead to 4 points. With 11 seconds left, the Titans' kickoff went out of bounds and the Colts had the ball at their own 40-yard line. On the following play, Manning hooked up with Bryan Fletcher for a 25-yard pass to the 35-yard line. The Colts brought out K Adam Vinatieri to attempt a 53-yard field goal, but the kick stayed right and just missed the upright. At the half, the Colts were in the lead, 14–10.
The third quarter did not yield a score, but Vince Young ran wild. The Colts' rushing defense was at its worst towards the end of the regular season. Three minutes into the last quarter, Vince Young hooked up with WR Brandon Jones for a touchdown to give Tennessee its first lead of the game. Ten minutes later, the Colts tied the game with a Vinatieri field goal from 20 yards out. On what ended up being the last possession of the game, the Titans were trying to defeat the Colts for the first time since the 2002 NFL season. After two first downs, the Titans had the ball at the Colts' 41-yard line with 31 seconds to go. After a short pass for 4 yards and an incomplete pass, the Titans had one last shot at a field goal to win the game. Kicker Rob Bironas had very high winds at his back and he made the 60-yard field goal with a lot of help from wind. He cleared the crossbar by almost 3 yards, and made the game-winning field goal for the Titans for the second straight week. With the brutal loss, the Colts went to 10–2 on the season.
The Colts came into this game three games ahead of the Jaguars in the AFC South standings, and with a win in this game, the Colts can clinch a playoff spot and the AFC South Championship for the fourth straight year.
On the Jaguars' first play from scrimmage, RBFred Taylor ran up the middle for 76 yards down to the Colts' 18-yard line. On the following play rookie RB Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 18 yards for the first score of the game. The Colts led the Jaguars at one point in the game, 10–7, but after Jacksonville scored six times before the Colts scored again, there was no way to catch up.
The Colts allowed 375 rushing yards in this game, the second-highest total since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 166 yards and RB Fred Taylor ran for 131 yards. Third-string RB Alvin Pearman also ran for 71 yards. To further emphasize how effective the Jacksonville running game was, Jaguars QBDavid Garrard was only 8 for 14 with 79 yards passing. While he only threw the ball 14 times, Colts QB Peyton Manning threw the ball 50 times, completing 25 of those passes for 313 passing yards. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown pass, but both of them threw one interception each. The Colts WR tandem of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne did well in this game. Harrison had 8 catches for 110 yards receiving, and Wayne had 6 catches for 101 yards. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew did not just succeed on offense—he ran back an Adam Vinatieri kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown also.
The Colts lost SSAntoine Bethea to a shoulder injury, and he would not return. As a consequence, the Colts fell to 10–3, losing first place in the AFC, while the Jaguars improved to 8–5, with the embarrassing loss.
Hoping to rebound from their blowout road loss to the Jaguars, the Colts went home for a Monday Night Football matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. In the first quarter, Indianapolis struck first with KAdam Vinatieri nailing a 30-yard field goal. The Bengals would respond with K Shayne Graham converting a 27-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Colts began their breakout with QBPeyton Manning completing a 4-yard touchdown pass to WRMarvin Harrison. Harrison would end up catching three touchdown passes in this game. Even though Cincinnati responded with 12-yard touchdown run by RBRudi Johnson, Indianapolis responded with Manning completing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Harrison. In the third quarter, the Bengals converted another field goal, and the Colts continued their power with Manning completing another touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison. Afterwards, Manning would complete another touchdown pass, this one an 18-yarder to WR Reggie Wayne. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals' only response was another field goal. After that last field goal by Shayne Graham, Adam Vinatieri responded with a 44-yard field goal to close out the game. With the win, the Colts improved to 11–3.
Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 29 of 36 for 282 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Bengals QB Carson Palmer was 14 of 28 for 176 passing yards. Palmer also fumbled the football four times in this game. Colts DEDwight Freeney forced three fumbles in the game and also had three sacks on Carson Palmer.
In the first quarter, the Colts got an early shock as RBRon Dayne ran for a 3-yard touchdown and a 6-yard touchdown run. Indianapolis would respond with 37-yard touchdown pass from QBPeyton Manning to WRMarvin Harrison. In the second quarter, the Colts tied the game with Manning completing a 9-yard touchdown pass to WR Aaron Moorehead. However, Houston reclaimed its lead with QB David Carr's 3-yard touchdown pass to RB Vonta Leach. In the third quarter, Indianapolis crept closer with KAdam Vinatieri making a 33-yard field goal for the only score of the period.
In the fourth quarter, the Texans responded with kicker Kris Brown's 42-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Colts tied the game with Manning hooking up with Harrison again on a 7-yard touchdown pass, Harrison's second of the game. However, Houston managed to pull off a huge upset with Kris Brown's game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired, giving Indianapolis their first ever loss against them. With the loss, the Colts fell to 11–4. Colts QB Peyton Manning finished the game 21 of 27 for 205 yards passing with three touchdowns and Texans QB David Carr finished with 163 passing yards on completing 16 of 23 passes with one touchdown. Rookie RB Joseph Addai ran the ball 15 times for 100 yards and former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne finished the game with 153 rushing yards on 32 carries.
After this game, the Colts were now 11–4, having lost 4 of 6 after a 9–0 start and dropped to 4–4 on the road.
Following their first-ever loss to the Texans, the Colts wrapped up the regular season at home against the Miami Dolphins. So far, the Colts were 7–0 at the RCA Dome during the regular season. In the first quarter, the Dolphins scored first with KOlindo Mare's 28-yard field goal for the only score of the quarter. In the second quarter, Indianapolis took the lead with QBPeyton Manning completing a 2-yard touchdown pass to DTDan Klecko. The Dolphins would follow Indianapolis' touchdown with a 38-yard Olindo Mare field goal. The Colts struck right back with Peyton Manning's 11-yard scamper into the end zone. After Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon was intercepted on his first pass of the possession by LBCato June, Indianapolis had the ball on the Dolphins' 37-yard line. Kicker Adam Vinatieri would come out and convert a 46-yard field goal to close out the half.
In the third quarter, the Dolphins managed to get another field goal from Mare, and Indianapolis answered back with Adam Vinatieri making a 34-yard field goal. Mare would kick yet another field goal for Miami to reduce the Indianapolis lead to 8 points, but to keep up with the Colts, they needed to score a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the Dolphins sent out Mare to kick another field goal, his fifth of the game, yet the Colts managed to score another touchdown with Peyton Manning completing a 27-yard touchdown pass to WRMarvin Harrison.
With less than ten minutes remaining in the last game of the season for Miami, they finally found the end zone when Cleo Lemon completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to TERandy McMichael. The Colts ran out the clock and closed the season with a win at home, to improve their record to 8–0 in the RCA Dome. With the win, Indianapolis wrapped up the regular season at 12–4 and the AFC's No. 3 seed.
Entering the NFL Playoffs as the AFC's third seed, the Colts began their playoff run against the sixth-seeded Kansas City Chiefs at home, where they finished 8–0 during the regular season. In the first half, the Colts defense started off playing exceptionally well, holding the Chiefs offense without a first down the entire half. On offense, KAdam Vinatieri had all 9 of the Colts' first half points converting field goals of 48-yards, 19-yards, and 50-yards out. In the third quarter, Indianapolis continued where they left off in the first half with rookierunning backJoseph Addai running into the end zone for a touchdown from 6 yards out. Kansas City's only scoring drive of the game came with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The drive concluded with QBTrent Green completing a 6-yard touchdown pass to TETony Gonzalez, along with a successful two-point conversion pass to FBKris Wilson. In the fourth quarter, with 10:16 remaining, the Colts scored another touchdown, this one a 5-yard pass from QB Peyton Manning to WRReggie Wayne.
The Colts' rush defense held Chiefs RB Larry Johnson to just 32 yards on 13 carries and 29 receiving yards on 5 receptions. The Colts also outgained the Chiefs in total yards 435 to 126 and in first downs 28 to 7. Both teams committed three turnovers, Peyton Manning threw a season-high three interceptions, two of them picked up by former PatriotTy Law. Manning finished the game 30 of 38 for 268 passing yards with 1 touchdown. Trent Green completed 14 of his 24 passes for 107 total passing yards with one touchdown also. RB Joseph Addai had 25 carries for 122 rushing yards with 1 touchdown. The Colts defense also forced two fumbles by Trent Green and also sacked him four times.
Making their first playoff appearance in Baltimore since relocating to Indianapolis 23 years earlier and coming off their win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Colts traveled to M&T Bank Stadium for the Divisional Round playoff game against the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens and their top-ranked defense. In the first quarter, Indianapolis scored first with KAdam Vinatieri making a 23-yard field goal. While the next drive failed to produce a touchdown, it produced another field goal, this second one from 42 yards out. In the second quarter, the Ravens responded with K Matt Stover converting a 40-yard field goal to reduce the Colts' lead to 3 points. Afterwards, Vinatieri would boot a career-long 51-yard field goal with 6:00 left in the half to give the Colts a 9–3 lead. In the third quarter, the Colts struggled to find the end zone, yet it provided Adam Vinatieri to cement his immense value to the team as a free agent pickup. He made his fourth field goal from 48 yards out; in the process making NFL history with that kick: Vinatieri surpassed Gary Anderson's mark of 32 career field goals made in the postseason. After Vinatieri's last of his five field goals that he made this game, he had made 34 field goals in his postseason career. With the win, the Colts improved their overall record to 14–4 this season and would advance to the AFC Championship Game to play against the New England Patriots at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Colts QBPeyton Manning finished the game 15 of 30 with 170 passing yards and two interceptions, while Ravens QB Steve McNair completed 18 of his 29 passes for 173 total passing yards and also had two interceptions. The Colts' 32nd-ranked rushing defense allowed only 83 total rushing yards this game, and proved that their defense had dramatically improved from the regular season.
After a pair of punts, the Patriots scored on their second drive of the game. However, the play did not happen the way they planned it. Patriots QBTom Brady fumbled the handoff to RBLaurence Maroney, the ball started rolling towards the goal line, went through a few pairs of Colts defenders' hands, and GLogan Mankins fell on it for a touchdown. The touchdown was one of two touchdowns in this game by offensive linemen. Indianapolis spent over six minutes on their next possession that resulted in a 42-yard field goal by kickerAdam Vinatieri. On the Patriots' first possession of the second quarter, they had no trouble moving the ball downfield and eventually scored on a 7-yard touchdown run by RB Corey Dillon, and the Colts were looking to score quickly to get momentum on their side. However, on the second play of the drive, Colts QB Peyton Manning threw a pass that was intercepted by CBAsante Samuel and he ran that back 39 yards for a touchdown to put the Colts down 21–3 with a little over nine minutes left in the half. The Colts closed out the half with another field goal by Vinatieri to reduce the Patriots' lead to 15 points.
The first possession of the third quarter belonged to the Colts, and they spent almost seven minutes on that drive, which ended with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Peyton Manning. The Colts were now only down by one score, 21–13. After the Patriots went three-and-out on their next possession, the Colts did not waste time before scoring. Within three minutes, Peyton Manning threw a screen pass to DTDan Klecko for a 1-yard touchdown to bring the Colts within two points of New England. Klecko was signed this offseason by the Colts after he was released by, ironically, the Patriots. After that touchdown catch, the Colts elected to go for the two-point conversion, and Manning completed a pass in the end zone to WRMarvin Harrison to tie the game at 21. The Patriots responded on the ensuing possession with a 6-yard touchdown pass to WR Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone. The Colts countered that touchdown with a score of their own, this one by CJeff Saturday. He ended up with the football in the end zone when RB Dominic Rhodes fumbled at the 1-yard line. The game was now tied 28–28 with 13:24 left in the game. After punts were exchanged, the Patriots broke the tie when K Stephen Gostkowski made a 28-yard field goal to give the Patriots the lead by 3 points. Adam Vinatieri made another field goal for the Colts right after Gostkowski's previous field goal to tie the game at 31, but Gostkowski then converted another field goal with 3:49 left in the game to put the Patriots back on top, 34–31. After the teams exchanged punts again, the Colts had one final opportunity to take the lead with 2:17 left in the game, and the ball on their own 20-yard line. After two passes completed to WR Reggie Wayne totaling 25 yards, and a 32-yard completion to TEBryan Fletcher, the Colts had the ball on the Patriots 11-yard line. Three plays later, rookie RB Joseph Addai ran right up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Colts up by 4 points, and give them their first lead of the game, 38–34. The Patriots had exactly 1:00 to put together a winning drive, but on the drive's fourth play, Colts CB Marlin Jackson intercepted Tom Brady with less than 20 seconds to play and he quickly dropped to the ground so that there would be no risk of a fumble, sealing the win for the Colts. Their 18-point comeback was the biggest in conference title game history, and would later be matched by the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals.
Two weeks after their record-breaking comeback in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, the Colts flew to Dolphin Stadium for Super Bowl XLI against the NFC Champion Chicago Bears. Bears CB/KR/PRDevin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, the first time that has ever happened in Super Bowl history. After the extra point by Robbie Gould, Chicago had an early 7–0 lead. On the following possession for the Colts, QBPeyton Manning threw an interception on the Colts' seventh play from scrimmage. His pass intended for WRMarvin Harrison was intercepted by FSChris Harris and the Bears had the ball on their own 35-yard line. After Chicago went three-and-out on that possession, the Colts were ready to even the score. The drive ended with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to WR Reggie Wayne, but punterHunter Smith mishandled the snap on the extra point and kickerAdam Vinatieri could not convert the PAT. However, Chicago would answer right back with a score of their own. QB Rex Grossman completed a 4-yard pass in the end zone to WR Muhsin Muhammad to increase Chicago's lead over Indianapolis, 14–6. After a Colts punt, the Bears had the ball on their own 48-yard line. On the second play of the drive, FSBob Sanders caused RBCedric Benson to fumble the football, and the Colts recovered. But, the Colts went three-and-out and could not take advantage of the turnover. After a Bears punt, the Colts spent four minutes on their next drive that ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. There were five turnovers in the first quarter, a first in Super Bowl history. This was most likely due to the rain and poor conditions that both teams were playing in.
In the second quarter, the Colts' next possession resulted in a touchdown by RB Dominic Rhodes and gave the Colts the lead for the first time in the game, 16–14. In the second half, the Colts got right back to work as Adam Vinatieri made another field goal, this one from 24-yards out, to make the score 19–14 in their favor. On the following Colts possession, Vinatieri came through yet again and converted a 20-yard field goal to put the Colts up by 8 points. The Bears immediately responded with a field goal of their own, but they would not score any more points in the half. QB Rex Grossman threw two crucial interceptions in the second half, the first was returned 56-yards for a touchdown by DB Kelvin Hayden. Four plays after Grossman's first interception, he was intercepted again, this time by FS Bob Sanders. Both interceptions thrown by Grossman were deep passes that were not thrown accurately.
The Colts defeated the Bears 29–17, and finished the season with an overall record of 16–4 and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy became the very first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. The game's MVP was Colts QB Peyton Manning, who finished the game 25 of 38 for 247 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rookie RB Joseph Addai finished the game with 19 carries for 77 yards rushing and had 10 catches which is today four shy of the Super Bowl record. RB Dominic Rhodes had 113 rushing yards and one touchdown on 21 carries also.