Rams thump Colts in preseason opener
Sunday, August 14, 2011
ST. LOUIS -- Josh McDaniels' debut as St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator was a big success, while the Indianapolis Colts got a reminder just how much Peyton Manning means to the franchise.
Sam Bradford produced 17 points in four possessions with big help from a defense that jumped on Manning's backups for a pair of early interceptions to help the Rams open the preseason with a 33-10 victory Saturday night.
"I'm not sure how much more Josh has in store for us," Bradford said. "But I felt like everything he's thrown at us, we've handled.
"We went out tonight and executed everything in the game plan very well."
Josh Brown's 60-yard field goal ended an almost perfect first half not just for the offense but for all phases. Brown's boot bettered his career best of 58 yards in 2003 with the Seattle Seahawks, giving the Rams a 23-3 cushion. Brown added a 53-yarder in the third quarter.
"I don't think I could have pulled him off that field," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said about the 60-yarder. "He was running out there even before I said, 'Let's kick a field goal.'"
Manning almost blended into the crowd on the Colts sideline in blue jeans and a ball cap, but his presence on the field was missed sorely. Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky threw costly interceptions early, giving the Rams possession deep in Indianapolis territory to set up 10 easy points.
"There's encouraging moments, there's some that are challenging," Painter said. "Having another week of practice will help."
Defensive end Dwight Freeney also didn't play and Reggie Wayne made at most a cameo appearance for the Colts, who beat the Rams 42-6 in their last regular-season meeting in 2009. Indianapolis has made nine straight playoff appearances and will be a lot more formidable with Manning, but it has lost seven straight preseason openers.
"We certainly weren't as sharp as we would like to be," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. "The interceptions certainly made a big difference. We're not quite where we'd like to be right now."
Manning underwent neck surgery May 23 and hasn't practiced. The Colts have said they expect Manning to be ready for the opener Sept. 11 at Houston.
"He's working with the doctors, and the doctors that he usually does the rehab with were here," Caldwell said. "He'll stay with the plan and get his treatment."
Perhaps the highlight for Manning on Saturday was a visit with former Tennessee backup quarterback Todd Helton before the Rockies played the Cardinals across downtown. Manning and Bradford chatted on the field after the game, just outside the prayer huddle.
Bradford was in for 24 snaps, topping Spagnuolo's estimate of 12 to 15 plays earlier in the week. He was 7 of 12 for 45 yards and a touchdown, while backup A.J. Feeley was 10 of 14 for 100 yards.
"It's night and day compared to our first preseason game last year," Bradford said. "I just feel much more comfortable and much more confident."
Steven Jackson was in uniform but didn't play for St. Louis, which excelled on defense without middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (pectoral).