BALTIMORE (AP)—Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes, earned another trip to the playoffs and etched his name in the NFL record book.
And he didn’t even have to play much past halftime to do it.
With Manning leading the way, the Indianapolis Colts strolled back into the postseason by building a 30-point lead in the second quarter en route to a 44-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
The win, combined with Tennessee’s loss to San Diego earlier in the day, assured the defending Super Bowl champions a sixth consecutive berth in the playoffs. Indianapolis (11-2), however, is still striving to win the AFC South and earn a lofty seed.
“We’re one step closer to our goal and we’re real pleased with our performance,” coach Tony Dungy said. “We’ll come back to work Wednesday and see if we can take another step.”
Baltimore (4-9) has lost a franchise-record seven straight. Coming off an inspired effort in a 27-24 loss to the unbeaten New England Patriots, the Ravens committed five turnovers, had a punt blocked and managed only 57 yards in offense through the first 30 minutes.
“It’s the same old scenario: You can’t win when you turn the ball over against any team, let alone a team like that,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “It’s hugely disappointing to our fans, the players, the organization, everybody, to not follow up last Monday with a better game than that.”
At halftime, with Indianapolis leading 37-7 and a driving rain making things even more uncomfortable for the home fans, well over half the crowd of 70,513 headed for the exits.
In the playoffs last January, Indianapolis failed to score a touchdown in a 15-6 victory that eliminated the Ravens. In the rematch, the Colts scored three TDs in the first quarter and two more in the second.
“It really wasn’t easy,” Manning insisted. “We had good execution and we had really good field position.”
Manning was magnificent. After going 12-for-16 for 209 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, he followed a Baltimore turnover with a 40-yard TD pass to rookie Anthony Gonzalez to make it 44-7 with 12:37 left in the third quarter.
That ended Manning’s night. He finished 13-for-17 for 249 yards and became only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw 300 touchdown passes.
“It means I’ve had great players to throw to. There’s not a day that’s gone by that I’ve not been appreciative of the protection I’ve had and just some outstanding targets, guys who’ve caught all these passes,” Manning said.
Joseph Addai scored three touchdowns, on a 19-yard reception and runs of 1 and 11 yards. Gonzalez, replacing the injured Marvin Harrison, scored the first two touchdowns of his career and had six catches for 134 yards.
Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. He was 5-for-8 for 17 yards in the decisive first half, and 19-for-25 for 132 yards and a touchdown overall.
Boller was replaced by 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith with 2:21 left. Making his NFL debut, Smith capped a 41-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
After completing a third-down pass to Gonzalez in front of Pittman, Manning threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne, who easily beat Pittman down the right sideline.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” Dungy said. “We thought with their emotional game last week and the short week and with a lot of guys banged up, if we could get on them early and we could get the lead, it would help. That’s what happened.”
Baltimore’s first possession ended when Willis McGahee lost a fumble. Marlin Jackson took the loose ball 21 yards to the Baltimore 12, and two plays later Addai scored from the 1 to make it 14-0 with less than 6 minutes elapsed.
Boller was then intercepted by Gary Brackett, whose 49-yard return set up Manning’s 300th touchdown pass, to Addai. Baltimore’s next possession ended with a blocked punt that rolled out of the end zone, upping the Colts’ lead to 23-0.
Addai’s second touchdown run boosted the margin to 30 points. Yamon Figurs returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, but later in the quarter Gonzalez burned Pittman on a 57-yard touchdown catch.
At that point, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan removed Pittman from the game.
Baltimore’s Derrick Mason had three catches to reach 88, a Ravens single-season record. … Indianapolis has won four straight against Baltimore, including the playoffs.