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Manning sets tempo for unbeaten Colts with 3 TDs in rout of Rams

ST. LOUIS -- The Indianapolis Colts were too good Sunday for Peyton Manning to tie the NFL record with his sixth straight 300-yard game.

It wouldn't have been appropriate for Manning to try for the mark the way his unbeaten team was beating up on the woeful St. Louis Rams. Manning still threw for three touchdowns in a 42-6 victory.

"He functions pretty well within the system," coach Jim Caldwell said. "He does a great job leading our team and being a field general. I don't think he reached 300 yards, but nevertheless he was very effective."

Manning was 23 for 34 for 235 yards, and the defense got its first score of the year on rookie Jacob Lacey's 35-yard interception return. Looking fresh coming off their bye, the Colts won their 15th straight regular-season game and set a franchise record with their eighth straight road victory.

"My hat's off to them," Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "Don't be surprised if they compete for a Super Bowl."

There were plenty of cheers from a sellout crowd that included a healthy contingent of Indianapolis fans, many of whom lingered to salute players after the game.

"We had a great following today. It was outstanding," said tight end Dallas Clark, who had a 27-yard TD catch. "When we were introduced it felt like a home game."

The Colts are 6-0 for the fourth time in five seasons.

The Rams (0-7) lost their 17th straight regular-season game, wasting a season-best 134 yards on 23 carries by Steven Jackson.

St. Louis' highlight came on its opening possession, a 50-yard flea-flicker from Marc Bulger to Donnie Avery to the Colts 14, but the drive fizzled and the Colts forced a short field goal.

Jackson has three 100-yard games but no touchdowns. The Rams have been drilled by the Packers, Vikings and Colts in three home games by a combined 116-33.

"We have to learn to put four good quarters together," Jackson said. "We don't know how to win a game right now."

The Colts intercepted Bulger twice, and Dwight Freeney ran his sack streak to seven straight games -- three off the NFL record -- by beating rookie Jason Smith. Safety Bob Sanders (knee surgery) got out of his season debut unscathed, getting 25 snaps and making his lone stop on Jackson one play after whiffing on Avery.

"Everything looks good," Sanders said. "It's been a long time since I played a game and not had any trouble."

Indianapolis' offense had plenty despite losing Reggie Wayne (groin) for a quarter and Donald Brown (shoulder) for most of the last three quarters. The Colts led 21-3 at halftime and never looked back, even without huge numbers from Manning, who missed a chance to tie Steve Young, Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon for the longest string of 300-yard games in NFL history.

Manning wasn't sacked and rarely touched. He did hit one milestone, passing Warren Moon for fourth on the career completion list.

"I really appreciate the protection I've been getting," Manning said. "It's something I don't take for granted."

Wayne had seven catches for 83 yards with a 6-yard scoring reception on the opening drive, but seemed to lack burst after returning and had one catch for 7 yards the rest of the way.

"He was feeling it a little bit toward the end of the second half, so we took him out," Caldwell said. "Hopefully he can recover from it quickly."

There's been no suspense to the Colts' last four games, won by a total of 138-42. That no doubt hurt Manning, who had 24 yards passing in the fourth quarter, although that total included an 8-yard scoring pass to Austin Collie.

Game notes
Rams long snapper Chris Massey will miss the rest of the season after tearing a left knee ligament in the second quarter. Massey was carted off the field. ... Rams OG Richie Incognito (left foot) limped off in the fourth quarter and will undergo an MRI exam Monday. CB Bradley Fletcher (hyperextended right knee) and Avery (ribs, shoulder) also were injured. ... The Colts' Kelvin Hayden, who intercepted Bulger in the fourth quarter, missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury. ... The Colts are 5-0 coming off the bye week since 2005.