Peyton’s Place is starting to look a lot more like a one-man act.
The Browns don’t seem to mind.
With one Peyton (Manning) out, another Peyton (Hillis) overpowered the Colts’ defense for two touchdown runs yesterday, leading the Browns to a 27-19 road victory over reeling Indianapolis.
For the Colts, it doesn’t get much worse than this. They already lost Manning for at least two months because of neck surgery and are now 0-2 for the first time since 1998, Manning’s rookie season.
The four-time MVP quarterback’s absence seems to have stripped the Colts of any aura of superiority - the loss to Cleveland was Indy’s first in the series since 1994, Manning’s freshman season at Tennessee.
Without their franchise quarterback, the Colts didn’t have much of a chance - even at home against a below-average team.
“We did some things better, but that’s not what we’re measured by around here,’’ Indy coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’re measured by winning.’’
Few expected things to look this bleak this fast.
From the middle of the third quarter until Indy’s final desperation drive, the Colts didn’t pick up a first down. That stretch included four straight three-and-outs, one that ended with a third-down interception after Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne fell down.
Kerry Collins, Manning’s replacement, started the game 9 of 12 but completed only 10 of his last 26, most coming after the outcome was decided. He finished with 191 yards, one interception, and a lost fumble. He didn’t get the Colts into the end zone until 24 seconds remained.
And next week, defending AFC champion Pittsburgh comes to town for a prime-time game that could expose more flaws.
Cleveland (1-1) simplified the game plan by relying on Hillis, who carried 27 times for 94 yards and the game-sealing 24-yard score with 3:55 left. He wore down the Colts with his strong runs and repeatedly converted in short-yardage situations.
The Colts closed to 14-12 midway through the third quarter, but Phil Dawson kicked two short field goals and Hillis added his decisive TD run.
Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 Playing with a fractured rib, Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley on a 77-yard completion on the Cowboys’ first play of overtime, setting up Dan Bailey’s winning 19-yard field goal as visiting Dallas (1-1) rallied past San Francisco (1-1).
Bailey kicked a tying 48-yard field goal as time expired in regulation after missing an early 21-yard attempt. Romo completed five of six passes on the tying drive, connecting on consecutive throws to Holley before finding him again in OT.
Romo fractured a rib in the first half and wasn’t expected to return. Jon Kitna replaced him at the start of the third quarter, throwing two interceptions and a 5-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin. Romo returned late in the third.
Packers 30, Panthers 23 Aaron Rodgers threw for 308 yards and two scores - the first a 49-yarder to Greg Jennings in the third quarter that put Green Bay (2-0) ahead for good, the second an 84-yard strike to Jordy Nelson that settled things in Charlotte, N.C.
The Packers withstood an NFL rookie-record passing day from Carolina’s Cam Newton. A week after throwing for 422 yards, the No. 1 overall pick passed for a franchise-best 432 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a 4-yard score with 37 seconds left to bring Carolina (0-2) within 7, but the Packers recovered the onside kick. Newton also threw three interceptions and was sacked four times.
Rodgers played a mistake-free game and completed 19 of 30 throws. John Kuhn had a goal-line plunge for the Packers’ first TD.
Titans 26, Ravens 13 Tennessee gave new coach Mike Munchak a big win in his home opener, and with Baltimore focused on stopping running back Chris Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck had a big day through the air.
Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards and a touchdown, and Tennessee (1-1) outgained Baltimore, 432-229, in total offense. Kenny Britt caught nine passes for 135 yards and a TD. Johnson had 24 carries for 53 yards.
The Titans showed off their revamped defense, too. They sacked Joe Flacco three times and hit him repeatedly while forcing three turnovers, including two interceptions. The Ravens (1-1) forced only one turnover after getting seven in Week 1 against Pittsburgh.
Lions 48, Chiefs 3 Matthew Stafford threw two of his four touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and host Detroit (2-0) picked up the most lopsided regular-season win in franchise history, battering injury-ravaged Kansas City.
The Chiefs, already down key players after an opening blowout loss to Buffalo, lost star running back Jamaal Charles in the first quarter with a knee injury. The Lions led, 20-3 at halftime and 41-3 early in the fourth quarter after turning two fumbles into TDs.
Saints 30, Bears 13 While Drew Brees kept the New Orleans offense rolling, the Saints (1-1) did a number on visiting Chicago (1-1), sacking Jay Cutler six times and limiting him to a 42 percent completion rate.
Texans 23, Dolphins 13 Visiting Houston improved to 2-0 for the second year in a row, while Miami is 0-2 for the fifth time in six years. The Texans’ Matt Schaub connected seven times with Andre Johnson, including a 23-yard touchdown that helped seal the victory.
Steelers 24, Seahawks 0 Host Pittsburgh (1-1) bounced back from a Week 1 debacle in a big way as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 298 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers defense limited listless Seattle (0-2) to 164 total yards.
Redskins 22, Cardinals 21 Rex Grossman completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss on fourth and 3 in the fourth quarter and Graham Gano put host Washington (2-0) on top with a 34-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining. Arizona (1-1) gained just 85 yards in the first half.
Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20 LeGarrette Blount’s 4-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left capped Tampa Bay’s rally from a 17-0 halftime deficit against host Minnesota (0-2). Josh Freeman’s 25-yard TD pass to Arrelious Benn with 6:39 remaining pulled the Buccaneers (1-1) within 3.
Broncos 24, Bengals 22 Willis McGahee ran for a touchdown and Eric Decker caught two scoring passes from Kyle Orton as the Broncos (1-1) slipped past Cincinnati to give John Fox his first win as their coach. The Bengals (1-1) haven’t won in Denver since 1975, a stretch of nine games.