By Vinny DiTrani/The Record (Hackensack N.J.) (MCT)
INDIANAPOLIS — If it had been a fight between two brothers in their backyard, dad Archie Manning would have stopped it in the second round.
Peyton Manning and his Colts clearly outplayed younger brother Eli and the Giants on Sunday night, jumping to a 24-0 halftime lead en route to a 38-14 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Yet it was the Indianapolis running game as much as its quarterback that did in the Giants, who dressed just two defensive tackles figuring more speed rushers would be needed to pressure Peyton Manning. The Colts rushed for 124 yards in the first half, obviously catching the Giants off-guard.
“I was surprised they could run the ball like that on us,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “I told our players that they outplayed us and out-executed us. And this was a team that did not play well last week, but obviously they worked hard all week to get better.”
Coughlin also was not pleased with Brandon Jacobs.
During a third-quarter drive, Coughlin was angered when Jacobs pussyfooted instead of turning up field on a run and gave the running back an earful as he came to the bench.
“We see too much of that east-west stuff from him,” Coughlin said. “You’ve got to turn it up and head north.”
Jacobs in turn flung his helmet at the wall, only to have it flip up into the stands.
“It got caught in my little finger and went up in the stands,” Jacobs said. “I apologize if anyone got (hit) by it.”
Rarely have there been two more divergent opening drives than the two that opened this game. Indianapolis marched right down the field with the opening kickoff, moving 80 yards in 12 plays and making up for a false start penalty along the way.
The Colts’ running game, which totaled 44 yards on 10 carries in the loss to Houston on opening day, gained 33 yards on seven tries in the first march which ended with Donald Brown’s romp through a humongous hole into the end zone from the 7.
“You never want to get the ball run on you like that,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. “We didn’t expect that.”
Peyton Manning was 5-for-5 for 52 yards on the drive, which started with back-to-back completions of 11 yards to Pierre Garcon and 13 yards to Reggie Wayne. Joseph Addai had the first 15 yards and Brown the last 18 on the ground for the drive that set the tone for the first half.
The Giants, on the other hand, went three-and-out, totaling zero yards on their initial possession. Mario Manningham was leveled by safety Antoine Bethea after gaining two yards on a first-down end-around. Ahmad Bradshaw was stoned by tackle Fili Moala for a two-yard loss on second down and Eli Manning, pressured by Dwight Freeney, threw an incompletion on third down.
In fact, Eli Manning did not complete a pass until a little more than two minutes remained in the first quarter, and that fittingly was a one-yarder to Travis Beckum. The Giants got their initial first down on the first snap, but fittingly needed a pass interference call against Kelvin Hayden to achieve that.
That led to about the only Giants’ bright spot of the half, a punt by Matt Dodge downed by D.J. Johnson at the Colts 2.
With the Giants staying primarily in their three-safety, two-linebacker set to try to counter Peyton Manning’s passing attack, Addai and Brown rammed their way out to midfield on six running plays.
From there the quarterback used a play fake to draw up safety Michael Johnson — in the game because Kenny Phillips was sidelined briefly with a head injury — and then fired a perfect bomb to tight end Dwight Clark. The play covered the final 50 yards and gave the Colts a 14-0 lead with 9:33 left until halftime.
And things just got worse after that. On the first play after the kickoff, Eli Manning’s pass for Steve Smith into triple coverage bounced into the hands of Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers.
A successful replay review negated a long return by Powers, but a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Brandon Jacobs set the Colts up at their own 39. Addai gained 34 yards and Brown 12 to put the ball on the Giants 16. But the only defensive play of the half, a third-down 4-yard tackle for loss of Brown by Cofield, limited Indianapolis to a 38-yard Adam Vinitieri field goal.
The onslaught still was not complete. Eli Manning fumbled the ball away on the Giants’ next possession after he was sacked by defensive end Robert Mathis. Former Rutgers lineman Eric Foster came up with the loose ball at the Giants’ 45 with 1:07 left until intermission. Peyton Manning moved his team quickly down the field, finding a wide open Austin Collie with a 3-yard scoring pass to conclude a drive on which he was 5-of-6 for 43 of the yards. Only :09 showed on the clock when Collie breezed into the end zone to put the finishing touches on a near-perfect first half for the Colts.