By Tom James
Indianapolis — Keiwan Ratliff was a second-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004. Now a cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts, Ratliff has a hard time believing that the Bengals have fallen as much as they have.
“It was tough, what with all the talent that they have over there, to see what’s happened. So many of the guys that were there when I was there, like [quarterback] Carson [Palmer], [wide receiver] T.J. [Houshmandzadeh], [wide receiver] Chad [Johnson, or Ocho Cinco]. It’s hard to understand it all,” Ratliff said after Sunday’s 35-3 win over the Bengals.
“I had a good time playing against them.
“It was just like I was back at practice [with Cincinnati], going up against Housh and the guys. We’re all still friends and we’re all really competitive in everything that we do. So that part of it was fun.”
Ocho Cinco, by the way, did not start against Indianapolis due to what was termed a “coach’s decision.” He saw limited playing time the rest of the way, although he did have five catches for 79 yards.
Middle linebacker Buster Davis, meanwhile, get to set his sights on this week’s home game with the Detroit Lions. Davis was a third-round draft pick by Arizona last season but spent most of his rookie year on the Lions’ practice squad. He was released by Detroit on Aug. 31 and was quickly picked up by the Colts.
With starter Gary Brackett sidelined for the next few weeks with a cracked right fibula, Davis stepped in and made his first NFL start against the Bengals. He was credited with three unassisted tackles but did a nice job of helping to get the Colts in the right defensive alignments.
“I told you [media] to come back and talk to me after the [Cincinnati] game,” Davis joked. “I do want to play well [against the Lions]. But that’s the game coming up. I always want to play well. The Colts have given me a chance to play now and I want to make the most of the opportunity.”
• One streak snapped — Despite Indianapolis’ win Sunday, the Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC South title with a 28-9 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The Colts had won the last five division crowns. It’s the second time since the AFC South was created in 2002 that Tennessee has annexed the division title. The Titans were able to clinch due to all possible tiebreakers.
• Injury list — Strong safety Bob Sanders started for the first time in four weeks after being sidelined with a swollen right knee. Sanders responded with a team-high eight tackles against the Bengals.
Center Jeff Saturday (calf) was close to playing but was a last-minute scratch by the Indianapolis coaching staff. He is expected to be available for work against the Lions this week. Defensive tackle Keyunta Dawson (hamstring) and Brackett were also sidelined.
Running back Joseph Addai missed practice time last Friday due to a sore knee but started against Cincinnati. He saw limited work after incurring a shoulder injury during the game.
“He probably could have come back in, but we decided to hold him out the rest of the game,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
Rookie running back Chad Simpson (ankle) and rookie defensive tackle Eric Foster (pinched nerve in his shoulder) were also hurt. Both are expected to play against Detroit. Safety Melvin Bullitt came out of the game briefly but was able to return. He has been bothered by sore ribs in recent weeks.
• Record-keeping — Peyton Manning completed 26 of 32 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals. Manning had a quarterback efficiency rating of 134.0. His 81.3 completion percentage was his 10th career game with 80 percent or better (with a minimum of 15 attempts).
His three touchdown passes marked the 51st career three-touchdown game and his 100th career two-plus-touchdowns game.
Manning passed former NFL New England and Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe for the seventh-most passing yards in league history Sunday. He now has 44,611. He also posted his 11th consecutive 20-plus touchdown season (22 this year), the second-longest such streak in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s 12 (1994-2005). He is also the first NFL player to post 11 consecutive 20-plus touchdown seasons to start a career. He had been tied with Dan Marino with 10.
He also eclipsed 3,000 seasonal passing yards for the 11th consecutive season and he is the only player in NFL history to post 3,000-plus passing yards in the first 11 seasons of a career.
Marvin Harrison recorded his second reception of 67 yards this season (the first was against Baltimore Oct. 12). It was the seventh-longest catch and run of his NFL career. Harrison had three catches for 78 yards against the Bengals.
Defensive end Robert Mathis now has a team-leading 11.5 sacks (53.5 for his career) and five forced fumbles this season. He has totaled multiple sacks in three consecutive games. It was Mathis’ third career double-digit sack season. It also marks the 13th double-digit sack total in franchise history.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney, meanwhile, now has 9.5 sacks and 27 quarterback hurries for the year. Freeney’s 69.5 career sacks is a franchise record.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden had the first multiple interception game by a Colts player since Brackett against Baltimore last Dec. 9. His fourth quarter 85-yard interception return for a touchdown, his second pick of the game, was the sixth-longest in franchise history and the first returned for a touchdown since safety Matt Giordano had an 83-yard interception return for a score against New Orleans on Sept. 6, 2007.
• Pregame inactives — The Colts’ pregame inactives were outside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (knee), linebacker Rufus Alexander, tight end Jamie Petrowski, wide receiver Roy Hall, rookie defensive end Curtis Johnson, Brackett, Saturday and Dawson.
Hagler did not practice last week but might be able to return for this week’s game with Detroit.