INDIANAPOLIS -- Just call him Patient Peyton.
With Buffalo content to slow down the Indianapolis Colts up-tempo offense, a restrained Manning relied on short throws, an effective ground game and a time-consuming final drive to lead the Indianapolis Colts past Buffalo, 17-16, yesterday -- and into the NFL record book.
Indianapolis is the first team to have consecutive 9-0 records.
"They just stayed real deep and double-covered the outside receivers," Manning said. "When a team does that, taking away the deep patterns, you've got to be able to run the ball and you've got to be able to throw underneath and get yards after the catch. We were doing that."
A few years ago, an impatient Manning may have been tempted to force balls deep. Not now.
Yesterday, he played with his customary accuracy -- completing 27 of 39 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown -- and was determined to make the Bills pay for their tactics.
But the Colts still needed some help from Rian Lindell, who pushed a 41-yard field-goal attempt wide right -- a play that would have given Buffalo the lead with 6:22 left. The miss ruined a near perfectly executed game plan for the Bills (3-6).
"We tried to reduce the time they had the ball and when they had the ball, we tried to bleed them for everything we could," coach Dick Jauron said. "We just didn't do it well enough."
As Manning looked like himself making reads and picking apart the Bills, his teammates adjusted.
Buffalo forced Manning to go more frequently to his tight ends and running backs. The dangerous receiving tandem of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne combined for only six catches and 63 yards, while Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai had 27 total carries for 150 yards, and the little-known Ben Utecht caught seven passes for 66 yards.
The Colts have won 31 of their past 34 regular-season games.
"I thought we would be a little sharper today, but what happened is they had a very good game plan," coach Tony Dungy said. "It wasn't anything we didn't anticipate. ... I wish we could have put it together a little better."