ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Rams ran more than they passed
Thursday, didn't challenge a play and didn't even use a timeout --
much less waste one.
Scott Linehan's head coaching debut, a 19-17 win over
Indianapolis, lacked the razzle-dazzle of Mike Martz's six seasons.
Instead, it was the Colts who resorted to trickery.
New Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri opened the game with a
successful onside kick, and Peyton Manning quickly made the most of
his brief appearance, throwing a touchdown pass in his only drive,
an 8-yarder to backup tight end Ben Utecht.
Martz was known to toss the red challenge flag to question a
spot by a foot or two, and often burned his timeouts early. His
high-flying offense was known for the pass.
Linehan didn't question a call and his game plan was balanced,
running 40 times and passing 31. Steven Jackson, playing just the
first two series, carried five times for 41 yards, including runs
of 16 and 23 yards.
"Coach wants us to be a team that protects the ball, takes the
ball away and plays smarter," Jackson said. "I think we did all
The backup running backs were good, too -- Tony Fisher carried
five times for 33 yards, and Fred Russell had a 54-yard run in the
"You've got to keep it mixed up so a team has to defend both,"
Manning was 3-for-5 for 50 yards overall, also completing 11-
and 31-yard passes to Reggie Wayne.
"I think when you recover (the onside kick), it really gets the
whole team fired up and it's nice to take that good field position
and turn it into points," Manning said.
"We wanted seven to 10 plays and a score and we got that,"
Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "Then we kind of bogged down a little
bit, but there were a lot of good things that we saw from all of
Neither team wasted time in getting key players out of harm's
way. Manning and receivers Marvin Harrison and Wayne were gone
after one series. St. Louis played quarterback Marc Bulger,
receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce and Jackson for two series.
Vinatieri, in his first game with the Colts, kicked a 53-yard
field goal in the first quarter.
Once the starters left, the Rams were more dominant than the
score indicated, outgaining Indianapolis 404-249. The Rams
outrushed Indianapolis 202-38.
Indianapolis backup Jim Sorgi was 7-for-17 for 64 yards in
finishing out the first half. Possible No. 3 Shaun King was
6-for-10 for 122 yards and an interception, and threw a 40-yard
touchdown pass to Levon Thomas in the fourth quarter.
Bulger, who played just eight games last season because of
injuries, was 3-for-6 for 51 yards and led St. Louis to a 33-yard
field goal by Remy Hamilton.
Gus Frerotte, in his first game as Bulger's backup, was 2-for-3
for 32 yards and led a first-quarter scoring drive culminated by
Fisher's 7-yard run. In the battle for the No. 3 quarterback job,
Ryan Fitzpatrick was 8-for-11 for 51 yards, and Dave Ragone was
7-for-11 for 80 yards and one interception.
The Rams' first-round draft pick, Tye Hill, just missed on two
interceptions and made a special teams tackle after the Colts T.J.
Rushing returned a kickoff 63 yards in the first quarter.
Two Colts running backs are seeking to fill the void left by the
departure of Edgerrin James, but neither was impressive. Veteran
Dominic Rhodes carried four times for 10 yards; first-round draft
pick Joseph Addai carried three times for 3 yards.
The Colts were without six expected starters on defense,
including three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney, out
with a sore shoulder.
The beleaguered St. Louis defense, ranked 30th last season,
played much better once Manning left. Two plays after Matt Turk's
first-quarter punt was downed at the Indianapolis 2, cornerback
Fakhir Brown blitzed untouched and sacked Sorgi for a safety. The
Rams had five sacks overall, three by undrafted rookie Matthew
Rams starting DE Anthony Hargrove sprained his right knee in
the first quarter. Linehan said the injury was minor. ... Colts
backup linebacker Kyle Killion suffered what was believed to be a
minor hamstring injury.