The Indianapolis Colts were overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage again, and the swarming Minnesota defense frequently pounded Peyton Manning into the Metrodome turf.
The Colts put the Manning touch on another impressive rally, thanks to a handful of clutch completions near the end by their stalwart quarterback, and reminded the Vikings it's just not possible to win without throwing the ball.
Manning passed for 311 yards and moved Adam Vinatieri in position for the winning field goal with 3 seconds left, leading Indianapolis to an 18-15 victory on Sunday after Minnesota led 15-0 late in the third quarter.
"We played a lot of man, got in their face, got a lot of pressure, but it wasn't enough," said Antoine Winfield, who had one of Manning's two interceptions. "He's been around. He's seen it all. You can never rattle him, I don't think."
Not since his rookie season in 1998 had Manning and the Colts started a season 0-2.
"That's one of the most satisfying wins I've had, definitely, since I've been in Indianapolis," coach Tony Dungy said. "It wasn't the most artistic, and I told the team we've got a lot of glass-half-empty-glass-half-full stuff, but I was very, very proud of our effort."
The Vikings (0-2) wasted more dominant defense, done in by a handful of critical lapses and repeated failure to figure out that pesky old forward pass. Adrian Peterson rushed for 118 of his 160 yards in the first half, and Minnesota was across midfield on its first eight possessions.
The prize for that? Five field goals by Ryan Longwell and three punts.
"It's real frustrating," said wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who had no catches. "It's kind of embarrassing, actually, to go out there and just have field goals all day. We're moving the ball up and down the field, really, at will. ... The defense played their hearts out today. They did everything they could. I mean, they really handed us the game and we blew it."
Outgained on the ground 183 to 53 yards in last week's 29-13 loss to Chicago, the Colts were outrushed this time 180-25. Three-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday (knee) sat out again, tight end Dallas Clark (knee) didn't play, and left tackle Tony Ugoh (groin) was also lost to injury. The defense lost star safety Bob Sanders (ankle), too.
Manning hasn't looked all that sharp since coming back from summer knee surgery, but he's clearly still one of the NFL's best. He finished 26-for-42 and was sacked by Jared Allen and E.J. Henderson.
"Our running game is -- it's hard to call it a running game right now," Manning said. "We don't have much of that. We have a pretty one-dimensional team."
That didn't matter.
The last of Longwell's field goals -- he later missed from 48 yards, his leg perhaps tired from scoring all the points himself -- sliced through with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
On the next possession, Manning found a wide-open Anthony Gonzalez for a 58-yard completion on third-and-6 at his own 24. Gonzalez lateraled to Reggie Wayne as he went down, and the ball was eventually spotted at the 1. Joseph Addai, held to 20 yards on 15 carries, barely got in on third down after an unsuccessful challenge by Minnesota coach Brad Childress to cut the lead to 15-7.
In the fourth, Manning moved the Colts from their 39 to the end zone with passes of 17, 12 and 32 yards -- the last a touchdown to Wayne. Dominic Rhodes sneaked through the pile on a 2-point conversion to tie it at 15 with 5:54 left.
To finish it in the final minute, Manning zinged a pass up the middle to Wayne on third-and-9. Vinatieri, who missed a 30-yarder earlier, made a 47-yard kick with 3 seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
"I know the Vikings feel just as sick as we felt last week in that locker room," Manning said. "A couple plays here and there. and we're feeling sick in this locker room."
Two possessions in the final six minutes both resulted in three-and-outs for the Vikings, each time bringing boos from the frustrated crowd. Tarvaris Jackson, who finished 14-for-24 for 130 yards and one lost fumble, tried to go deep on third-and-6 from the 35 to Berrian but watched it fall incomplete as Berrian tripped in tight coverage with 4 1/2 minutes left.
"You can get mad, throw a chair, whatever. It really doesn't matter," Jackson said. "We've just got to go out there and execute."