Indianapolis 28, Cleveland 23

CLEVELAND, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Marvin Harrison set a single-season record for receptions Sunday and the Indianapolis Colts rallied from a 16-point deficit early in the third quarter to down the Cleveland Browns, 28-23.

The Colts erased a 16-0 deficit by scoring four touchdowns in the second half. Peyton Manning tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Harrison and rookie James Mungro rushed for a pair of scores.


Harrison caught nine passes for 172 yards, giving him 127 receptions and breaking Herman Moore's previous NFL mark of 123.

"A lot of good things have been going my way this season," Harrison said. "The no-huddle helped us move the ball down field. We still have two games left and my focus is on the New York Giants) game next week."

"He (Harrison) is unbelievable," Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy said. "You just knew the way he practiced after the Tennessee game, you just felt like he was going to come up with a big day. He was geared up all week and ready to go. He was amazing."


The win moved the Colts (9-5) into sole possession of first place in the AFC South, a half game ahead of Tennessee (8-5), which hosts New England Monday night.

In typical Browns' fashion, the contest came down to the final minute. Cleveland's hopes ended when Tim Couch threw behind Andre Davis in the end zone on fourth and goal from the five with 32 seconds left.

"I tried to throw it up and give my guys a chance," Couch said. "Unfortunately, it did not go our way."

A week ago, the Browns (7-7) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20, on Couch's "Hail Mary" 50-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Morgan on the final play of the game.

That duo hooked up again for a 78-yard touchdown on the first play of Sunday's contest, but Morgan did not catch another pass until late in the fourth quarter.

The loss dealt Cleveland's playoff hopes a severe blow as the Browns (7-7) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North.

"We missed a great opportunity today and we couldn't have asked for a better beginning and a better first half," Cleveland Coach Butch Davis said. "The second half, we couldn't get any rhythm and couldn't get them out of sync."


Coming off a 27-17 setback at Tennessee, the Colts came out flat. Couch threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson with 1:10 left in the first quarter and Phil Dawson kicked a 29-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the first half to give the Browns a 16-0 lead at halftime.

"This was a big win for us," Dungy said. "It was not the way we wanted to start the game, but I'm really proud of our guys. We missed three third and ones in the first half and gave them two easy touchdowns on jump-ball passes."

But Indianapolis was a different team following the intermission. After managing just 117 yards in the first half, the Colts riddled the Browns for 300 in the second.

"We went to the no-huddle, which limited some of their substitutions, and that seemed to help us in the second half," Dungy added. "Fortunately, we made enough plays in the second half to win."

"At halftime, the coach was cool," Harrison said. "He said stay cool and play like you know how to play."

Despite not being able to stop the Colts, Davis elected to punt on fourth and two with just over four minutes left. Indianapolis took over at its 14 and played into the Browns' hands by running three plays into the middle of the line that resulted in a loss of two yards.


Out of timeouts, Cleveland started its final possession at the Colts' 48 with just under three minutes to go. On third and 15, Couch hit Johnson for 14 yards before Jamel White ripped off eight yards on a draw play to keep the Browns alive.

After Couch picked up another first down with a nine-yard pass to White, Cleveland got a break when cornerback Walt Harris was called for defensive holding when he grabbed Johnson, giving the Browns a first down at the 10.

After an incompletion on first down, Couch scrambled to the five on the next play. But his third-down pass was batted down by tackle Josh Williams at the goal line.

On fourth down, Couch set up in the shotgun and appeared to have a lane to the end zone, but elected to pass. Davis reached back, but had no chance to make the catch.

"I thought about running but saw the linebacker sitting right on the goal line," Couch said. "I would have made it to the two or the one. I don't think I would have made it in."

Couch completed 21 of 35 passes for 287 yards, although he struggled in the second half. Manning rallied the Colts by completing 20 of 34 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns.


"Manning gets all the credit," Mungro said. "He makes checks with little time on the clock and it sometimes makes me nervous. He gets the play off. His composure is unbelievable back there."

Indianapolis got on the board on its first possession of the second half when Mungro took advantage of a huge hole and went up the middle for 29 yards on fourth and three. Mungro rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries.

"Sometimes, you have a game plan and feel great, then things don't go right," Manning said. "You get a tipped ball here and one of my throws was carried off target by the wind and we had a fumble on a short run. But that's why you play 60 minutes. The no-huddle picked up the tempo and we were kind of clock-watching."

The Colts closed to 16-14 on Manning's 25-yard touchdown strike to Harrison with 2:51 left in the third period before the Browns answered on rookie William Green's two-yard run 32 seconds into the final period.

Indianapolis came right back, needing seven plays to make it 23-21 on Manning's three-yard touchdown pass to Harrison 3 1/2 minutes later. The next time the Colts got the ball, they marched 86 yards on six plays and took their first lead on Mungro's three-yard run off right tackle with 7:46 remaining.


"They beat us in the first half, but we showed the character of our team in the second half," said Colts linebacker Rob Morris, who had 10 tackles. "This is not new for us, we know how to come back."

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