Tamme had bigger shoes to fill than most. The third-year player from Kentucky was thrust into a starting role for only the second time in his career after All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark was lost for the season because of a wrist injury.
Tamme stepped right in and caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown to help Indianapolis move into first place in the AFC South with a 30-17 win over the Houston Texan on Monday night.
"I think you always want to see how a guy responds," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "Certainly, a high-pressure situation. It was nice to see a guy that had a calm, cool look to him the entire night. That was encouraging to see."
Manning completed 26 of 45 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 78 yards and Reggie Wayne had a touchdown catch for the Colts.
Mike Hart ran for a career-high 84 yards in place of the injured Joseph Addai, but he hurt his ankle with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter and will have an MRI exam.
Indy avenged a 34-24 loss to the division-rival Texans in Week 1.
"Division-wise, we needed to win this game," Colts linebacker Clint Session said. "A loss here could have been a real downer for the rest of the season."
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub struggled in the first half and finished 22 of 38 for 201 yards with one TD. Arian Foster, who ran for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown and added nine catches for 65 yards on Monday. Andre Johnson had seven catches for 106 yards and a score for the Texans (4-3), but much of his damage was done after the Colts were firmly in control.
"The first half, we didn't play the type of football we normally play," Johnson said. "We never really got into a rhythm in the first half because I think everybody was taking turns making mistakes. I think it was just mental lapses at times, and when you have those, you don't win."
The Colts, meanwhile, had no turnovers and controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes
Manning threw to Tamme on the Colts' first offensive play, but he couldn't quite pull it in.
"It's kind of a tough start," he said. "Any time you get your fingers on the ball, you feel like you should catch it," he said. "I think we both just remained confident. Our whole offense, we just kind of keep plugging. Playing with him, and him giving me some chances to help move the ball was a good start."
On Indy's next possession, Manning went back to Tamme for 26 yards to give the Colts first-and-goal. On third down, Manning found him over the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, the first score of Tamme's NFL career, to give the Colts a 7-0 lead with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter.
"It's my first TD," he said. "It's a nice feeling to actually get in there and help us by putting some points up."
Indy's Kelvin Hayden picked off a pass intended for Kevin Walter on the second play of the second quarter and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to give Colts a 14-0 lead. Indy had gone 25 regular-season games without a defensive score.
A 33-yard run by Foster put the Texans in scoring range, and Houston kicker Neil Rackers made a 53-yard field goal that hit the left upright and bounced in to make it 14-3 with 12 minutes left in the first half.
The Colts converted on a fourth-and-1 from the Texans 47 when Donald Brown barreled his way for 3 yards with 3:05 left in the second quarter. That led to a season-long 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 53 seconds left in the half that increased Indy's lead to 17-3.
On Indy's first possession of the third quarter, Manning completed a short pass to Garcon. The speedster juked several defenders, reversed field, then got a block from Manning on his way to a 14-yard gain.
Four plays later, Wayne caught a flanker screen from Manning and turned it into a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 24-3 lead with 11:30 left in the third quarter.
The Texans got a 30-yard TD pass from Schaub to Johnson and a 6-yard TD run from Foster to make it 27-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Vinatieri made a 36-yard field goal with 7:23 left to put the finishing touch on a win that was especially satisfying for Manning.
"Lot of change on this team," he said. "A lot of new guys playing. Some guys really stepping up, and just a great team effort."