MIAMI — Peyton Manning spent most of the night on the sideline and just enough time reaching the end zone.
The Indianapolis Colts had the ball for less than 15 minutes, but Manning made the most of his chances, helping his team come from behind four times to beat the Miami Dolphins 27-23 Monday night.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 80 yards to Dallas Clark and 48 yards to Pierre Garcon. The first score on the first play from scrimmage, the latter with 3:18 left for the game’s final points.
"It was about being efficient when it counted, in the fourth quarter," Manning said. "That’s really what the game’s about."
While the Miami Dolphins’ celebrities were making a Hollywood-style grand entrance, Manning slipped in a side door and stole the show.
The Dolphins rolled out an orange carpet for the pregame arrival of new owner Stephen Ross’ celebrity partners. The crowd included Serena and Venus Williams, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Buffett and Colts rooter Tiger Woods.
But Manning was the big star. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 303 yards, and the Colts improved to 2-0. The Dolphins fell to 0-2, even though they had 239 yards rushing, including 107 with the wildcat formation.
The Colts had the ball for only 14:53, the lowest time of possession for a winning team in the NFL since 1977. They ran 35 plays, and Miami ran 84.
"It’s really disheartening," Miami coach Tony Sparano said. "That’s exactly the formula to beat that team."
Indy trailed 10-7, 13-10 and 20-13, but each time pulled even. Down 23-20 after Miami scored with 3:50 left, the Colts rallied one more time with a big play by Garcon.
"Pierre was patient," Manning said. "He was more talkative than he had been all game, saying, ‘I can beat him. I can beat him.’ Of course, we didn’t get many possessions, but he came up big when we really needed him."
After completions of 15 and 17 yards, Manning hit Garcon with a short pass on the right side. Garcon cut to the middle, then broke back toward the sideline to the corner of the end zone to score.
Miami reached the Indianapolis 30-yard line with six seconds left, but Chad Pennington’s desperation pass was intercepted in the end zone by Antoine Bethea.
That was the Dolphins’ lone turnover. They were 15-for-21 on third-down conversions, punted once and controlled the ball for a team-record 45 minutes. They had to wonder how they lost.
The answer: Manning. He earned his 119th victory with the Colts, breaking the team record for a quarterback he shared with Johnny Unitas.
"I don’t feel comfortable with these comparisons to Unitas," Manning said. "But I’m very proud to wear the same uniform as Johnny Unitas. He was a real winner."
Miami’s Ronnie Brown rushed for 136 yards, including 62 in the wildcat, in which he takes a direct snap. Teammate Ricky Williams added 69 yards rushing.
Against Manning, it wasn’t enough.
"To have as few plays as he did and to do what he did, you just don’t see that," Pennington said.
Manning took only three snaps in the third quarter, and the Colts had just three possessions after halftime.
"You just feel like you didn’t really letter in the second half," Manning said.
The Dolphins controlled the ball for nearly nine minutes on an 80-yard touchdown drive that put them ahead 20-13 early in the final quarter.
Indy quickly pulled even again. Manning hit Clark for 49 yards to set up a 15-yard scoring run by Donald Brown. Clark had seven catches for a career-high 183 yards.INDIANAPOLIS — 27
MIAMI — 23
• KEY: Pierre Garcon turned a short Peyton Manning pass into a 48-yard touchdown to put the Colts ahead with 3:18 remaining.
• NEXT: Colts at Cardinals (Pick); Dolphins at Chargers (-7)