Colts 27 Dolphins 23
MIAMI — While the Miami Dolphins’ celebrities were making a Hollywood-style grand entrance, Peyton Manning slipped in a side door and stole the show.
Manning threw two touchdown passes to take some sheen off the Dolphins’ glitzy makeover under new owner Stephen Ross, and the Indianapolis Colts came from behind four times to win 27-23 Monday night.
The Dolphins rolled out an orange carpet for the pre-game arrival of Ross’ celebrity partners. The crowd included Serena and Venus Williams, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Buffett and Colts rooter Tiger Woods.
But Manning was the big star. He had the ball for less than 15 minutes but threw touchdown passes of 80 yards to Dallas Clark and 48 yards to Pierre Garcon.
The first came score on the first play from scrimmage, the latter with 3:18 left for the game’s final points.
“It was about being efficient when it counted, in the fourth quarter,” Manning said. “That’s really what the game’s about.”
Manning finished 14-for-23 for 303 yards, and the Colts improved to 2-0. The Dolphins fell to 0-2 even though they had 239 yards rushing, including 107 with the wildcat.
Indianapolis had the ball for only 14:53, the lowest time of possession for a winning team in the NFL since 1977.
“It’s really disheartening,” Miami coach Tony Sparano said. “That’s exactly the formula to beat that team.”
Indy trailed 10-7, 13-10 and 20-13, but each time pulled even. Down 23-20 after Miami scored with 3:50 left, the Colts rallied one more time with a big play by Garcon.
“Pierre was patient,” Manning said. “He was more talkative than he had been all game, saying, ’I can beat him. I can beat him.’ Of course we didn’t get many possessions, but he came up big when we really needed him.”
After completions of 15 and 17 yards, Manning hit Garcon with a short pass on the right side. Garcon cut to the middle, then broke back toward to the corner of the end zone to score.
Miami reached the Colts 30-yard line with six seconds left, but Chad Pennington’s desperation pass was intercepted in the end zone by Antoine Bethea.
That was the Dolphins’ lone turnover. They were 15-for-21 on third-down conversions, punted once and controlled the ball for a team-record 45 minutes. They had to wonder how they lost.
The answer: Manning. He earned his 119th victory with the Colts, breaking the team record for a quarterback he shared with Johnny Unitas.
“I don’t feel comfortable with these comparisons to Unitas,” Manning said. “But I’m very proud to wear the same uniform as Johnny Unitas. He was a real winner.”
Miami’s Ronnie Brown rushed for 136 yards, including 62 in the wildcat, taking a direct snap each time. Teammate Ricky Williams added 69 yards rushing.
Manning took only three snaps in the third quarter. The Dolphins controlled the ball for nearly nine minutes on a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by Brown’s three-yard run. That put them ahead 20-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Indy quickly pulled even again. Manning hit Clark for 49 yards to set up a 15-yard scoring run by Donald Brown.
Miami drove 51 yards and broke a 20-all tie with Dan Carpenter’s 45-yard field goal with 3:50 left. He made two other field goals but also missed from 49, which kept the Dolphins from trying a game-winning kick in the final seconds.