American Football: Colts clinch play-off spot as Manning stalks Marino mark

At the start of Sunday's action, only the Philadelphia Eagles were assured of post-season play, but they now have plenty of company following another dramatic weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons all claimed play-off berths following important wins.

At the start of Sunday's action, only the Philadelphia Eagles were assured of post-season play, but they now have plenty of company following another dramatic weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons all claimed play-off berths following important wins.

The Colts edged past the Houston Texans 23-14, but the triumph lacked their characteristic sparkle. Peyton Manning threw two more touchdown passes, to move within two of Dan Marino's record of 48 in a single season. But the Colts lost a chance to become the first team in the sport's history to score 40 or more points in five consecutive games, as Houston proved unwilling sacrificial lambs.

Having watched the Colts score their fewest points all season, Manning was in philosophical mood. "Every game makes you better, so long as you win," he said. "I need to do whatever it takes to win." A similar note of reality was struck in Atlanta, where the Falcons made sure of their place in next month's post-season courtesy of a team-record four rushing touchdowns from T J Duckett in a 35-10 stroll past Oakland. "This is nice, but there are other things we want to do," said their impressive first-year head coach, Jim Mora.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are also through following a gritty 17-6 battle with the New York Jets. The affair hung in the balance until the fourth quarter, when the veteran running back Jerome Bettis literally took matters into his own hands. First, he threw a touchdown pass to Jerame Tuman, catching the Jets completely off-guard. Then, to make things safe, he also scored by more conventional means, courtesy of a 12-yard run.

New England's 35-28 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals was their 27th from their last 28 games, and fittingly, it was their running back, Corey Dillon, who opened the scoring. Dillon had spent seven stormy seasons in Cincinnati before being traded to the Patriots during the summer. Fiery, outspoken and difficult he may have been as a Bengal, but, as a Patriot, Dillon has become quite a diplomat, and there were no harsh words for his former employers.

"I'm pretty sure everybody's sitting here waiting for me to say something negative about Cincinnati," he said. "It's not going to happen. I respect those guys." A changed man indeed, but the powerful running of Dillon has always been a potent weapon, and he is one of the main reasons why the Patriots remain favourites to win their third Super Bowl in four years.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all