INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Xavier Rhodes delivered the first punch Sunday for the Indianapolis Colts.
T.J. Carrie finished it off on a milestone day for Philip Rivers.
Rhodes and Carrie each returned an interception for a touchdown, Indianapolis recorded its second safety in as many weeks and Rivers added his 400th career TD pass as the Colts routed the New York Jets 36-7. It’s the first time since October 1970 the Colts returned two INTs for scores in a game, which also happened against the Jets.
“Any time we touch that rock, that’s the most important part of the game,” Carrie said. “It’s not just saying something, you have to actually go out and practice it.”
The Colts (2-1) came in with the league’s top-rated defense and could stay there after picking off three more passes, giving up just 260 yards and seven points.
But for a franchise better known for high-scoring offenses, getting 18 points from the defense in two victories has been a welcome addition.
Couple that with Rivers, who got rid of the ball quickly and crisply while avoiding mistakes on a milestone day.
The 38-year-old quarterback went 17 of 21 with 217 yards, becoming the sixth player in league history to throw 400 career TD passes and the sixth to top 60,000 yards. He passed Hall of Famer Dan Marino for fifth all-time in completions and broke a tie with Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton for eighth in league history with win No. 125..
Rivers now has exactly 400 TDs, 60,065 yards, 4,980 completions.
“I think it’s OK when you don’t caught up in it to go, ‘Oh man,’” he said. “What it’s done for me in this little short bit of time is you start thinking about all the guys who caught so many of those balls. You know it’s all about the team. But I’m certainly thankful and I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t care.”
For the winless Jets, it was another ugly chapter in a season already filled with them after only three weeks.
Rhodes picked off Sam Darnold on the fifth play of the game, returning it 44 yards for his first score since 2016.
Darnold answered with a 16-yard TD pass to Braxton Berrios to tie it midway through the first quarter. He finished 17 of 27 with 168 yards, one TD and three interceptions.
Then, it was all Colts.
After the Jets drew a pass interference call in the end zone, Rivers found Mo Alie-Cox for a 1-yard score to break the tie. Rodrigo Blankenship extended the halftime lead to 17-7 with a 42-yard field goal. Jonathan Taylor scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter and Carrie’s 47-yard interception return on the final play of the quarter sealed New York’s fate.
The Jets are 0-3 for the second straight season.
“It’s frustrating,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “I’m frustrated for our guys, our coaches. I mean, we’re the only ones that can fix it. We have to do it. We have to figure out a way to clean up all the things that aren’t going right for us.”
Jets: New York opened the game without starting receivers Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder, or right tackle George Fant. All three were inactive. Left tackle Mekhi Becton left in the first half with an injured shoulder and did not return. Linebacker Jordan Willis and safety Bradley McDougald got hurt in the fourth quarter.
Colts: Starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin missed his second straight game with a non-football related stomach illness and rookie receiver Michael Pittman injured his ankle in the first half, but returned later.
Jets: Had the first 19 plays of the game, holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes. ... New York had 188 yards of offense in the first half against the league’s No. 1 defense but finished with 260. ... Frank Gore ran 15 times for 57 yards against his former team. ... Kalen Ballage caught five passes for 44 yards to lead the Jets. ... Darnold’s quarterback rating was 53.2
Colts: Rhodes had two interceptions, one more than his total from the previous two seasons. ... Alie-Cox finished with three catches for 50 yards. T.Y. Hilton had three receptions for 52 yards. ... Taylor ran 13 times for 59 yards. ... Team officials announced 7,480 tickets were distributed. Indy has played in front of fans all three weeks.
Jets: Hope to snap a three-game losing streak Thursday when Denver visits.
Colts: Will try to win in Chicago for the first time since 2004 next Sunday.