"After last year, to say we're going to overlook anybody doesn't make a lot of sense. Sometimes it's not going the way you want it to, but we finally caught on and made some plays," said Manning, who passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bengals 31-10 Sunday.
Coupled with last week's 16-13 victory over the New York Jets, it marked the first time in Manning's 22-game career the Colts (4-2) have won two straight.
Marvin Harrison, the NFL leader in receptions, caught eight of Manning's passes for 156 yards, including 56 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. It was the eighth TD reception of the season for Harrison, matching his career high in just the sixth game.
"They were double-covering him early and they realized it was just hurting them, and we were beating them with other guys," Manning said.
The Bengals (1-6) lost Corey Dillon, the NFL rushing leader, with a cut on his right arm in the first half and rookie quarterback Akili Smith with a bruised right shin in the third quarter. Jeff Blake relieved Smith, going 5-of-7 on a 68-yard drive and hitting Darnay Scott for a 10-yard score with 5:13 to go. Dillon managed only 7 yards on six carries.
"Everything like that affects us. But that wasn't the reason for us losing the game," Bengals coach Bruce Coslet said of the loss of Dillon.
"We didn't play very well. They got after us on a lot of long plays. The one long play, we had Harrison double-covered and he still got out. You can't do that to a heck of a player.
"So many things went wrong, I don't know where to begin."
Manning (17-for-33 for 284 yards) hit Harrison for the 56-yard TD on the Colts' third play. Both of James' scores came in the second period following crucial mistakes by Cincinnati.
After a bad snap, Will Brice's punt was blocked by Ratcliff Thomas, giving the Colts the ball at the Bengals 28. Two passes to Harrison helped Indianapolis to the 12, then an apparent interception in the end zone by Artrell Hawkins was called back by an offside penalty.
Manning passed to Terrence Wilkins at the 1, and James ran in for a 14-0 lead.
On the Colts' next possession, a long pass to Harrison fell, but an interference penalty on Hawkins put the Colts at the 5. James ran 2 yards for the second touchdown.
"We wanted to be aggressive, but their passing game is so quick and rhythmic that you can't come up very far or they'll try those double moves and go behind you like they did on the first score," Hawkins said. "Marvin Harrison has so much speed, you can't afford to give him any steps."
Smith, making his third start, was 12-for-24 for 122 yards, but he was sacked five times.
An apparent TD pass to Harrison was nullified on a review that showed he had one foot out of bounds when he made the catch, setting up Mike Vanderjagt's 22-yard field goal for a 24-0 lead.
Cincinnati, which had just one first down up to that point, moved 48 yards in nine plays, including a 24-yard scramble by Smith and a 16-yard pass to Carl Pickens. Doug Pelfrey's 32-yard field goal with 15 seconds left cut the lead to 24-3.
Three more completions to Harrison set up Dilger's 10-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter before the final touchdown pass from Blake tScott.
"I told the team all week Cincinnati is a better team than their record. I was impressed with their defense, and they showed that again today," Colts coach Jim Mora said. "I didn't relax until the game was over. I was concerned the whole game."
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