ATLANTA — Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts looked more like themselves Thursday night.
All it took was a trip to Atlanta.
Manning threw three touchdown passes, Anthony Gonzalez had 105 yards receiving and the defending Super Bowl champions, after getting stunned with 10 quick points by the Falcons, rebounded for a 31-13 victory.
Indianapolis (9-2) had struggled the past three weeks, losing twice and pulling out a lackluster win over Kansas City at home. The Colts’ malaise carried over the first quarter at the Georgia Dome, with the Falcons striking for Morten Andersen’s 34-yard field goal and Joey Harrington’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White.
But any thoughts the Falcons (3-8) had of pulling off a huge upset were quickly wiped out by Manning. He threw all three of his TD passes in the second quarter, going 23 yards to Reggie Wayne, 8 yards to Dallas Clark and 5 yards to Ben Utecht.
Gonzalez didn’t get to the end zone, but he was Manning’s favorite receiver. He hauled in a 35-yard pass that set up Wayne’s TD and a 32-yarder that led to Clark’s score.
Manning was 22-for-32 for 272 yards.
After missing the past two games with a broken thumb, Gonzalez’s return was a boost for a Colts’ offense still plagued by injuries. Perennial Pro Bowl receiver Marvin Harrison missed his fifth straight game with an ailing left knee. Indy also was missing two starting linemen, Tony Ugoh and Ryan Diem.
Not to worry, not against the Falcons. The Colts rallied for a 21-13 lead by halftime, and Atlanta just faded away over the final two quarters, managing just 92 yards after the break. The Falcons wrapped up a stretch of two home games in five days in which they lost twice by a cumulative score of 62-20.
Atl—FG Andersen 34, 6:59.
Atl—White 48 pass from Harrington (Andersen kick), 3:44.
Ind—Wayne 23 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 14:42.
Atl—FG Andersen 30, 11:35.
Ind—Clark 8 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 6:45.
Ind—Utecht 5 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 2:38.
Ind—Addai 4 run (Vinatieri kick), 5:05.
Ind—FG Vinatieri 24, :32.
Total Net Yards365250
Time of Possession29:2430:36
RUSHING—Indianapolis, Keith 17-74, Addai 10-44. Atlanta, Dunn 17-70, Norwood 6-33, Snelling 4-6, Harrington 2-3, Mughelli 1-0.
PASSING—Indianapolis, Manning 22-32-1-272. Atlanta, Harrington 14-30-2-155.
RECEIVING—Indianapolis, Gonzalez 6-105, Wayne 5-66, Clark 5-49, Utecht 4-38, Addai 2-14. Atlanta, White 6-104, Crumpler 3-14, Dunn 2-10, Jenkins 1-9, Mughelli 1-9, Norwood 1-9.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.