Manning threw three touchdown passes and iced the game with a 27-yard keeper to help the Indianapolis Colts beat the Oakland Raiders, 31-26, Sunday in a game that turned out to have little playoff meaning.
The Colts (9-6) allowed Jacoby Ford to return the opening kick for a touchdown, overcame a pair of interceptions by Manning in the second half and survived four field goals from Sebastian Janikowski, including two from more than 50 yards, to move within a win of clinching the AFC South title for their ninth straight playoff berth.
But when Jacksonville lost, 20-17, in overtime to Washington earlier Sunday, the Colts knew that no matter what happened in this game they could clinch the division with a win at home next week against the Titans or a Jaguars' loss at Houston.
The results in the early games also robbed this game of any real meaning for the Raiders (7-8), who were eliminated from playoff contention when Kansas City wrapped up a 34-14 win against Tennessee early in the first quarter of this game.
Manning took advantage of a 31-yard pass interference call against Stanford Routt to throw a 4-yard TD pass to Blair White to give the Colts a 24-16 lead late in the third. But little came easy for Manning against Oakland's defense. He threw a pair of interceptions in the second half, giving him 17 for the season, his most since 2002.
He responded from the second interception, which led to a field goal that cut the Colts' lead to 24-19, by leading Indianapolis on a 68-yard drive that was capped by a 7-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon on third down to give the Colts a 12-point lead.