QB has 13th straight multi-TD game

HOUSTON (AP) -- There were T-shirts and caps to mark the occasion, and Peyton Manning had a huge smile on his face.

Manning got exactly what he wanted Sunday, even without getting Dan Marino's single-season touchdown passes record.

The Indianapolis Colts won the game and clinched a playoff berth. They beat the Houston Texans 23-14 for their second straight AFC South title, which was proclaimed on the attire they brought with them.

"The idea was to get the win. That was the whole idea," Manning said. "You don't want to let these opportunities slip away. ... I need to do whatever it takes to win, and whatever happens along with it is great."

Manning threw touchdown passes on the first two Colts drives to get within two of Marino's 20-year-old record of 48 TDs in a season. But Indianapolis (10-3) didn't get into the end zone again.

He still broke one of Marino's records, just not the one everybody is talking about.

It was his 13th straight multi-TD game, breaking a record held by Marino, Johnny Unitas, Don Meredith and Brett Favre. Unitas was the only other to do it at the beginning of a season, for the Colts 45 years ago in the midst of his record 47 straight games with a TD pass.

After Manning's fast start, the Colts settled for three field goals by Mike Vanderjagt (30, 43 and 44 yards) in the second half.

"That's how it's going to be sometimes," receiver Brandon Stokley said. "You can't score 40 points every time."

With a chance to become the first NFL team to score 40 points in five straight games, the Colts had a season-low 23. Manning didn't have at least three TD passes for the first time in nine games.

"Every game makes you better, as long as you win," Manning said.

With the Colts' fifth playoff berth in his seven seasons secured, Manning has three games to catch Marino. His next chance comes Sunday night at home against Baltimore.

Manning was 26-of-33 for 298 yards. Reggie Wayne had seven catches for 96 yards, including a 12-yard TD.

Edgerrin James ran for 104 yards on 28 carries and had seven catches for 54 yards.

Domanick Davis had 201 total yards for Houston (5-8). He had 23 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 73 yards.

The way Manning started Sunday, it looked like he would catch Marino by halftime.

"If we win and hold him down, it would be OK," Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper said, taking no solace in Manning only throwing two TDs. "We lost, so it really doesn't matter."

Seven plays after Jason David intercepted a pass by David Carr
at the Texans' 38, Manning threw a 3-yard TD to Marvin Harrison. It was the 13th TD this season for Harrison, who this week signed a $66 million, seven-year contract extension. It was also the 81st between Manning and Harrison, the second-most for a quarterback-receiver duo behind 85 by Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

The Texans then went three-and-out, and Indianapolis went 72 yards on eight plays -- four passes and four runs by James. Wayne's 11th TD reception with 3:37 left in the first quarter put the Colts up 14-0.

"I thought it might be a game where we'd get it going again like we have the last few weeks," coach Tony Dungy said. "It turned out to be a dogfight right down to the wire. I'm kind of glad it went that way because as we move on, the games will be more like that. It was a great test for us."

Indianapolis was sloppy at times, in one sequence having three penalties in a four-play stretch.

The only other time Manning threw into the end zone, Stokley made a diving attempt on a ball in the third quarter just before Vanderjagt's 30-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.

Vanderjagt kicked his other field goals on the last two drives.

Dunta Robinson sacked Manning twice in the second quarter, his first two career sacks, and both plays led to lengthy discussions by the officials.

After the first sack, the Colts punted, and the Texans drove for Carr's 3-yard TD pass to Jonathan Wells. Carr was 16-of-21 for 167 yards.

"We got beat by an Indianapolis team who comes in here as the hottest team," coach Dom Capers said. "We kept our poise and found a way to battle back."

Robinson got to Manning again before halftime, and the play was initially ruled an incompletion. The Texans challenged the call, which was then ruled a sack, but the fumble wasn't allowed because of a blown whistle.

Game notes
Carr has 13 TD passes this season, 31 in his three-year career. ... Defensive end Dwight Freeney had three of Indianapolis' five sacks, increasing his season total to 13. ... Stokley is one TD shy of making the Colts the first team with three receivers with 10 TDs.