(DARRON CUMMINGS ~ Associated Press)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Once again, the defense bailed out the Indianapolis Colts.
Cato June had two interceptions that set up two touchdowns and Nick Harper had an interception and a fumble recovery to set up scores, as the Colts overcame a 17-0 deficit to beat the Rams 45-28 on Monday night and remain the NFL's only unbeaten team.
Edgerrin James helped things along with 143 yards rushing on 23 carries and three touchdowns and Peyton Manning had two touchdown passes, including a record-setter to Marvin Harrison.
The Rams, playing without ailing coach Mike Martz, lost quarterback Marc Bulger to a sprained shoulder in the second quarter after he led St. Louis to the early lead.
But it was almost all defense for Indianapolis.
Dwight Freeney chipped in with a forced fumble for the Colts (6-0), and Robert Mathis took over the NFL sack lead with seven -- he has at least one in every game this season. That provided the field position that allowed Indianapolis to run 36 consecutive plays in St. Louis territory in the last 27 minutes of the game.
Bulger, who was 6-for-8 for 121 yards and a touchdown, was hurt when he was blocked by David Thornton on the first of the interceptions by June, a third-year linebacker who leads the NFL with five picks. It came less than 3 minutes into the second quarter and led to James' 8-yard touchdown run.
Jamie Martin took over at quarterback for the Rams and could do little but throw underneath until late in the game. He threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Cam Cleeland for a meaningless TD that made it 45-28.
And Steven Jackson, who had 46 yards in a 162-yard first quarter for the Rams (2-4) could do little after that, finishing with 88 yards on 17 carries. St. Louis had just over 100 yards in the second and third quarters.
The Rams took the early lead on a 21-yard run by Jackson on the first series of the game; a 29-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins; and a 57-yard TD pass from Bulger to Kevin Curtis.