Manning and the Colts shook their preseason struggles against
the team they beat up on best, but Jake Plummer, Mike Anderson and
the Broncos more than matched Indy score for score in a 37-24
victory Saturday night.
"He's Peyton Manning, for God's sake," Broncos defensive
lineman Trevor Pryce said. "You're not going to make him look like
a high school quarterback in one game."
Manning threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns over his 2½
quarters of action, helping the Colts' first-team offense to its
first significant success of the preseason.
"I don't care if it's preseason or whatever, you want to at
least play well," Manning said. "Offensively, we were much
Plummer was almost as good. He went 10-for-16 for 150 yards and
one score in his two-plus quarters, his second straight solid
Anderson was Denver's star, scoring a 93-yard touchdown as part
of his 159-yard, two-score night. It came one year to the day since
he was lost for the 2004 season with a groin injury suffered in a
preseason game against Houston.
"My biggest concern was being caught from behind," Anderson
said. "When you have a run like that you don't want to be
After a couple of shaky drives to start the game, Manning and
the Colts appeared in postseason form -- or at least the kind of
postseason form they'd shown the last two years against Denver.
Indianapolis outscored the Broncos 90-34 and Manning totaled 835
yards and nine touchdown passes in playoff wins the last two years,
each of which has prompted big changes in the Denver secondary.
This year, Denver used its first three draft picks on
cornerbacks. Manning took advantage of one of them, confusing
second-rounder Darrent Williams on an 18-yard touchdown pass to
Marvin Harrison that tied the score at 17 late in the first half.
Williams was playing in place of Champ Bailey, who is nursing a
hamstring injury. Denver's other starting defensive backs, however,
were on the field and all got a taste of Manning.
He hit Reggie Wayne for a 27-yard score on a play in which Lenny
Walls and John Lynch appeared confused about the coverage. Manning
and Wayne connected earlier on a 44-yard play in which Wayne got
behind Walls, but Walls caught up to the receiver and punched the
ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
The Denver offense was equally effective against a Colts defense
missing four starters and with 11 more players listed as out with
Anderson was the biggest story. In addition to his 93-yard
score, he had a 25-yard run and a 20-yard catch from Plummer. The
reception came early in the third quarter and set up Anderson's
2-yard touchdown run behind a block from defensive tackle Gerard
Warren, who checked in as a fullback.
"We really feel like Mike is in great shape," coach Mike
Shanahan said. "He's had a great camp. There are no questions in
our minds that he's totally healthy."
The touchdown made it 24-17 and the Broncos stopped Manning on
the next drive. Williams ended the drive by sacking Manning after
coming free on a cornerback blitz.
The Colts fell to 0-4 in the preseason, but still, the day had
to be deemed a success for Indy's first-team offense, which
committed two first-quarter turnovers and only managed one score in
six possessions last week against Chicago.
"We would have liked to have gotten a win, but we still have
another preseason game, so that's the way we have to look at it,"
Denver, meanwhile, can feel good about Plummer's performance and
can probably anoint Anderson the starting tailback. But there are
still questions at receiver, where Ashley Lelie played great -- five
catches for 104 yards -- but nobody else, including Jerry Rice (no
catches), stood out.
The game was played a week after 49ers lineman Thomas Herrion
collapsed in the locker room and died following a preseason contest
against Denver at Invesco Field. A moment of silence was observed
before the game to honor Herrion.<
Notes:@ Jim Sorgi went 10-for-18 for 99 yards with a TD and an
interception in relief of Manning. ... After committing 12
penalties for 89 yards against Chicago last week, the Colts only
had four for 35 against Denver. ... Walls left with a bruised knee.
... Broncos tailback Quentin Griffin saw his first action of the
preseason and had nine carries for 33 yards. ... Broncos DL John
Engelberger had three sacks.