8:30 PM ET, September 6, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts looked just as formidable on offense as they did when they won the Super Bowl last season.And even better on defense.Shaking off a sluggish first half, the Colts outscored New Orleans 31-0 after intermission in Thursday night's NFL opener to beat the Saints 41-10. At the same time, they served notice to New England, San Diego and other highly touted teams that losing six players who started the Super Bowl last season hasn't slowed them down a bit.Four of them were on a defense that didn't allow a touchdown Thursday night."All offseason, that's what everyone talked about, that the defense has lost all these guys," said Peyton Manning, who threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. "A lot of young guys played good tonight. It's only one game and there's a long way to go, but we played really well tonight."Playing against his hometown team, Manning threw two TD passes to Reggie Wayne and another to Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai ran for 118 yards on 23 carries and that super-quick defense shut down Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and the explosive New Orleans offense.The game was tied 10-10 after a sloppy first half.But Manning led two quick TD drives in the first 8:49 of the second half as the Colts put up 24 points in 20 minutes after intermission. On the first drive, Manning hit Harrison for 42 yards to set up a 2-yard TD run by Addai. Then the Super Bowl MVP came right back to throw a 28-yard TD pass to Wayne."NFL games are 60 minutes long. We were a little out of synch in the first half," coach Tony Dungy said. "They played us defensively a little different than we thought. We knew we had to run the ball a little more."Another major player -- for both sides -- was New Orleans cornerback Jason David, who started for the Colts in their Super Bowl win over Chicago and then left as a free agent. He was victimized by Harrison on a 27-yard TD pass in the first half and again by Wayne on both his scores, the second a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter.But David also produced the Saints' only TD, stripping Wayne after a second-quarter completion, picking up the ball and returning it 55 yards for the score."We don't do that," Manning said when asked if he deliberately went at David. "We had the right calls at the right time. With Marvin and Reggie, you're always going to throw it to those guys. If you have a good day, they say you're picking on one guy. We really don't do that."David said he had to get used to a new scheme in New Orleans but didn't have any excuses."Any time you come back and play a team you used to play for, you want to play your best game," he said. "I didn't play my best game tonight. All the plays you saw tonight ... that's on me. There's nobody else to blame but me."Wayne finished with seven catches for 115 yards."The joke in the locker room is that I scored on both sides of the ball," Wayne said of his run-ins with his former teammate. "I gave him a free touchdown, so I guess that was the appreciation we gave him."The game finally put the focus back on football after an offseason dominated by player discipline problems and long suspensions, most notably involving Michael Vick and Adam Jones. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was at the game, said beforehand, "I think we're ready now to get the focus back on football."It took a little while before Manning got the Colts' offense focused.Manning was just 8-of-17 for 101 yards in the first half, 66 of those yards on two completions: the 27-yard TD to Harrison, plus 39 on a throw to tight end Dallas Clark that set up Adam Vinatieri's 33-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.But the Saints, who reached the NFC title game last season before losing to Chicago, could never get their potent offense going."I thought at halftime, being on the road and with all that went on we were in good shape," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. "But we had some miscues. Our inability to convert third downs and keep the ball hurt us."
Colts TE Dallas Clark is such an integral part of this offense. The Saints played a ton of Cover 2, but could not account for Clark in the passing game. Indianapolis used very few three receiver sets on first and second down, but created the same effect by splitting Clark out wide. The Colts also added a new wrinkle by putting Clark on one side and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne on the other and it helped produce Harrison's first quarter TD catch.
In the third quarter, Clark drew the safety playing quarters coverage up while Wayne filled the void on his deep post for a huge touchdown that all but sealed the Colts victory.
Clark isn't known as a top blocker, but he was effective in sealing the edge for Indianapolis' stretch play. This play abused New Orleans which -- out of fear -- was reluctant to bring an extra defender into the box. Clark did a little of everything, including even getting a first down carrying the ball on an end around, and simply put, was instrumental in this win.
-- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
• Complete Week 1 Scouts Buzz
Harrison's 83 yards gave him 13,780 for his career, moving him past Henry Ellard for fifth place in NFL career yardage. ... Manning is 8-2 in season openers in his career and the Colts are an NFL-best 15-2 in September under Dungy, the best early record in the NFL since 2002. ... The Saints scored as few as 10 points only once last season, in a 16-10 loss in Washington on Dec. 17. ... McAllister had 38 or fewer yards only twice last season despite alternating at running back with Bush. ... Manning has a career-best 164 passes without an interception going back to last season.
Colts TE Dallas Clark is such an integral part of this offense. The Saints played a ton of Cover 2, but could not account for Clark in the passing game. Indianapolis used very few three-receiver sets on first and second down, but created the same effect by splitting Clark out wide. The Colts also added a new wrinkle by putting Clark on one side and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne on the other, and it helped produce Harrison's first-quarter TD catch.
In the third quarter, Clark drew the safety playing quarters coverage up while Wayne filled the void on his deep post for a huge touchdown that all but sealed the Colts' victory.Clark isn't known as a top blocker, but he was effective in sealing the edge for the stretch play. This play abused New Orleans, which -- out of fear -- was reluctant to bring an extra defender into the box. Clark did a little of everything, even getting a first down carrying the ball on an end around, and was instrumental in this win.
-- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.3||7.7|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-0||0-0|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||1|
|TD||1:42||Reggie Wayne, 27 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri kick is good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 58 yds, 4:32