Defensive liability

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

Peyton Manning throws for five touchdowns and a career-high 472 passing yards and his Indianapolis Colts still lose by 10 points.

Jake Plummer tosses for his career best -- 499 yards -- and the Denver Broncos get crushed by 13.

To twist an old golfing expression, apparently when you throw for show it isn't enough to get it done in today's NFL.

So miserable are the Broncos -- and especially the Colts -- on defence, that it almost doesn't matter what their respective offences put up.

The listless unit in Indianapolis clearly is the most alarming, though.

A team that entered the season as a Super Bowl contender is ranked dead-last in the NFL for yards allowed -- 418 per game -- and has slipped to a 4-3 record.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who easily handled the Colts 45-35 on Sunday, showed the blueprint to beat Indy -- pound it on the ground against their undersized, poor tackling defence.

"You have to be concerned after the last two weeks," Colts coach Tony Dungy said of successive losses to the Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars, in which his team has surrendered 72 points.

The Colts may find themselves in another shootout next Monday when they play host to the Minnesota Vikings.

The Broncos weren't helped by the fact that Plummer tossed three interceptions in a 41-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

But playing at home after an upset loss to Cincinnati the previous Monday, one might have expected a better effort from the Broncos, who had to listen to drill seargant/coach Mike Shanahan all week.

Instead, the Broncos were busted for the second game in a row and have given up 64 points over that span.

PATRIOT PROBLEMS

The winning streak may be over for the New England Patriots, but the drama in their season is not.

Far from it.

The Super Bowl champions have an interesting November as they try to forget the disappointment of not matching the Miami Dolphins undefeated 1972 season.

The first pressing concern is whether running back Corey Dillon will get healthy soon enough to avoid the team getting one-dimensional.

The second is how equipped are they to handle tough road games in St. Louis and Kansas City in the next three weeks.

And third, how will Tom Brady recover from the mini-meltdown in Sunday's 34-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Brady was picked off three times and was seen chirping at teammates on the sideline.

It was one of the few times in his career that Brady has become so unnerved as the Steelers defence put serious heat on him all afternoon.

WHAT A BREES

Lost in the celebration around teams such as the Patriots, Eagles and Steelers is what is happening on the West Coast.

Don't look now, but the San Diego Chargers are 5-3 and have a share of the AFC West lead.

This from a team that had all but given up on quarterback Drew Brees, drafting Philip Rivers as his replacement this past spring.

And this from a team that had an over/under season win total of 41/2 in Las Vegas.

Brees completed 22 of 25 pass attempts in Sunday's 42-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. Five of those were for touchdowns.

Add in the running of LaDainian Tomlinson, and the Chargers have a balanced attack.

Winners of four of their past five, the Chargers are also playing decent defence for the first time in years.

QUICK HITS

Lighten up, Ray Lewis. If you are going to behave like a buffoon on the field, don't get upset when someone imitates you. Even if it is that other buffoon, Terrell Owens. "I was having fun with it," Eagles receiver Owens said of his dance following a touchdown against the Ravens. "I mean, he gets himself amped up every time he tackles someone for a two-yard loss. What's wrong with me doing it?" ... Is there any doubt who the future of the Buffalo Bills backfield may be? While Travis Henry had one carry for two yards, Willis McGahee had 30 for 102.


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