Indianapolis Peyton Manning did some extra work Monday night.
He threw a lead block. He ran for a first down. And he kept the Colts’ makeshift offense chugging along as the Colts got past Houston, 30-17.
So just like that, the defending AFC champs are back on top of the AFC South.
“Whoever’s in there has to somehow find a way to do the job. It’s not always going to be pretty or perfect, but you’ve just got to keep grinding,” Manning said. “That’s kind of the word we use. Just keep grinding and trying to make some plays.”
Manning has made his share of plays over the years, and his latest effort certainly was no different.
Though the Colts (5-2) were missing All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark, receiver Austin Collie and running back Joseph Addai with injuries, Manning made sure his teammates didn’t miss a beat.
Mike Hart ran for a career-high 84 yards and barely missed scoring his second career touchdown. Jacob Tamme, similar to Hart making his first career start, caught six passes for 64 yards and his first career touchdown.
Manning, meanwhile, went 26 of 45 for 268 yards with two TDs.
But it wasn’t just the new guys making plays — or only the offense.
Reggie Wayne caught a touchdown pass. Manning rushed for a first down for the first time in nearly two years, then threw the lead block on a first-down catch-and-run by Pierre Garcon in the third quarter.
“It was a screen, and Pierre has that ability to cut back,” Manning said. “I think Pierre really did all the work. Let’s take it for what it really was — it was a good run.”
But that’s how important Monday’s game was to the Colts, who evened the seasons series with Houston (4-3).
Indy’s defense repeatedly pressured Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and forced him into a series of mistakes including an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
“In the first half, we didn’t do a thing. We dug ourselves a hole,” Schaub said.