Now, that was an air show!

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

On a normal Sunday in a typical NFL game, Peyton Manning's workday would have been done.

It was only halftime and the Indianapolis Colts quarterback had thrown four touchdown passes and was on pace for 988 yards through the air, for crying out loud.

The lead over the Green Bay Packers was 35-17 and a sellout home crowd in the RCA Dome was serenading with him a standing ovation as he jogged off the field for the break.

But Manning knew better. He has both respected and revered quarterback Brett Favre and knew that the legend on the other sideline rarely takes a knee.

"I never felt comfortable out there," Manning said after the most productive 30 minutes of his career. "Scoring all those points in the first half, the whole time we said offensively we have to keep going."

Sure enough, it was Favre's turn to fire and when the smoke finally cleared, the Colts left with a 45-31 win.

"This was a game of two guys who didn't want to lose and have tremendous competitiveness," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "There was no doubt in my mind that when we went up by three scores at halftime, it was going to be as tough as it was.

"I hadn't seen Brett in three years and I can't say that I miss him."

The 57,280 in the Dome may not have liked it that much either, but they couldn't knock the entertainment value.

By the end, they might have wondered whether this is the same league where the Atlanta Falcons can beat the Arizona Cardinals 6-3 and claim a win?

Or the Jacksonville Jaguars can score 35 points in three weeks -- the same amount Manning put up in one half yesterday -- and be 3-0?

"They are arguably two of the best players ever to play the game," Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said of Favre and Manning. "How could you be surprised at what happened?"

It didn't take long to find out. Less than two minutes into the game, the Colts opened the scoring when Manning connected with Reggie Wayne on a 36-yard post pattern.

On the next series, Favre answered with a perfectly timed 36-yarder of his own to Javon Walker to tied the score.

Over to you, Peyton.

Less than two minutes later, Manning hit Marvin Harrison on another post pattern, this one from 27 yards.

Your turn, Brett.

On the very next play, Favre hit Walker in full stride again for a 79-yard touchdown. The game was just more than eight minutes old and the score was tied 14-14.

"At that point, I said: 'Boys, we've got ourselves a bit of a shootout today," Manning said.

Just as Manning feared, Favre wasn't done. A third touchdown pass to Walker and one to Donald Driver and suddenly the score was 38-31 early in the fourth quarter.

"In the huddle, I told our guys that we had nothing to lose so let's have fun," Favre said. "I told our receivers: 'You're going to have plenty of balls thrown your way.'

"You've got to give (the Colts) credit. We just couldn't match them in the scoring category."

CERTAINLY TRIED

Favre certainly tried. It was the 17th time in his career he has thrown four TDs in a game, a feat some quarterbacks never reach once. Manning tossed five for the fifth time in his career and for the second consecutive game at home.

Contests such as yesterday's may make the defensive disciples grimace, but they put a smile on those who watch.

"You never know when the ball is coming to you in this offence," said Brandon Stokley, who had a pair of touchdown catches. "You run every play like you are going to catch it and if he throws it to you, you try to make a play. That's the great thing about it."

ON FAVRE: "Any chance I get to be around him, I cherish it. The competitor that he is, that's what sticks out the most."

ON MANNING: "Not much more you can say other than he has developed into a great player and he had a great game."


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