Facing the AFC's stingiest defense, Manning led two scoring drives in the final quarter - including one in the final 68 seconds - as Indianapolis beat Buffalo 18-16 on Sunday.
After the Colts fell behind 16-15 on Eric Moulds' 40-yard reception with 1:08 left, Manning drove Indianapolis 42 yards to set up Mike Vanderjagt's 45-yard field goal as time ran out.
"We were very calm. There was no panic at all," said Manning, the NFL's second-rated passer who was coming off a franchise-record 440-yard performance in Monday night's 43-14 victory over Jacksonville. "The fact that we had three timeouts was big because it didn't feel like we had to forced the ball long."
Manning, limited to only 75 yards in the first 41 minutes, finished 16-for-26 for 187 yards with two TDs and an interception. He was held under 200 yards for only the ninth time in his two-plus seasons.
On the winning drive, Manning chipped away after the Colts started on their own 31. His 10-yard pass to Edgerrin James, coupled with a 5-yard facemask penalty against Keion Carpenter, was the biggest gain of the drive.
With Manning at the helm, Vanderjagt was confident his turn to win the game was coming.
"I'm just happy to be along for Peyton's ride, because he's one of the best in the league," said Vanderjagt, whose kick was the third-longest game-winner in team history. "As soon as they scored, I knew that we would be able to get into field-goal range.
"That's plenty of time for Peyton, and he did xactly what he needed to do."
It was the eighth time Manning has led a fourth-quarter comeback and the fourth time he's lifted the Colts to victory on the final drive of a game.
Manning threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison in the second quarter to cut the Bills lead to 9-7, and a 10-yard scoring pass to Terrence Wilkins that gave the Colts a 15-9 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
James ran the ball 19 times for 60 yards, and Harrison had three catches for 45 yards as Bills held the Colts to 265 yards the second fewest since 1998.
The Bills were left frustrated, knowing they dominated most every aspect of the game except for the final score.
The Bills topped the Colts in rushing (170 yards to 82), passing (246-187), first downs (21-14) and enjoyed almost a 12-minute edge in time of possession.
And yet somehow they lost, the third time in their last nine games including playoffs they've failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead.
"Obviously, it's a tough loss," coach Wade Phillips said. "We missed too many opportunities. The loss is disheartening, but I can't do anything about it now. We have to learn from these things."
On five of their first six possessions, the Bills marched inside the Colts' 24, but came away with only nine points. The Colts sacked Rob Johnson once to push the Bills out of field-goal range in the first half. And a holding penalty against Ruben Brown and a delay of game call foiled a threat in the third quarter.
"Should've, could've, would've," said Moulds, who had nine catches for 112 yards. "We can't live like that. We need to go down there and score points. With the players we have on offense, we need to go out there and make plays."
"It's beyond words how frustrated you are," added Johnson, who was 21-for-31 for 246 yards and was sacked four times. "We definitely blew some opportunities in the first half."
It didn't help that the Bills were missing tight end Jay Riemersma, who will be sidelined at least two more weeks because of a knee injury.
Christie's field goals - all in the first half - came from 19, 27 and 30 yards.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed