INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Peyton Manning can see the Indianapolis
Colts' offense improving.
He also knows it still needs some finetuning.
The Colts' starters scored their first touchdown of the
preseason Saturday night, then settled for four Mike Vanderjagt
field goals as they beat the Buffalo Bills 19-7 and gave new coach
Tony Dungy his first home victory.
"It's still not quite us, because we didn't run the ball
much,'' Manning said. "Buffalo was playing a lot of coverage and
we're throwing and moving the ball, and at the same time you get
down inside the 10 and you're like, `OK, this play didn't work,
this play didn't work ...' What do you do?''
It was another question for an offense that has struggled
throughout the preseason even as it finished with one major
accomplishment Saturday -- scoring for the first time in three
Indianapolis' only touchdown drive Saturday night went 14 yards
and came 3:07 into the game, but it was the Colts' first in six
The rest of the game left plenty to be desired.
About the only element of one of the NFL's highest-scoring
offenses that appeared in sync was the Manning-to-Marvin Harrison
connection. Manning completed 12 of 23 passes for 104 yards, while
Harrison caught eight passes for 74 yards.
Otherwise, it was a struggle.
"On offense, we still hurt ourselves a little bit with
penalties,'' Dungy said. "We're still a little off throwing the
There were other problems, too.
The Colts rushed for only 22 times for 50 yards -- 31 coming on
Hunter Smith's fake punt -- as Edgerrin James sat out for the third
straight week. They finished with 217 yards in total offense, and
the starters' longest scoring drive, 42 yards, resulted in a
28-yard field goal.
The Colts also lost wide receiver Qadry Ismail with an elbow
injury in the first quarter and backup quarterback Brock Huard in
the third quarter with a thumb injury on his left hand, his
throwing hand. Dungy said Ismail's X-ray was negative but he had no
prognosis on Huard's injury.
Even the touchdown drive was not impressive.
Troy Walters returned the opening kickoff 81 yards to the
Buffalo 14. Five plays and three Bills penalties later, Kevin
McDougal plunged in from 1 yard out.
"I don't feel good about my performance tonight,'' said
McDougal, who was re-signed Monday after being released by the
Colts in February. "I was real rusty. I didn't think I ran well at
If it seemed a subpar night for the Colts, it was even worse for
The improvement on defense was offset by a series of mistakes.
There was the breakdown on the opening kickoff, three turnovers
and the constant penalties. Buffalo committed 11 in the first half,
one more than its total from the first two games combined, and
finished with 16 penalties for 97 yards.
"Before the ball game, officials talked to both teams. They
were going to be extremely close tonight,'' coach Gregg Williams
said. "We have to adjust. We have to do better.''
Williams also had hoped to see a more productive offense.
Instead, it appeared to take a step back against the revamped Colts
The Bills produced 228 total yards, including a minus-7 yards
rushing in the first quarter, managed only 12 first downs and its
only score came after Walters bobbled a punt and Chris Watson
recovered at the Indianapolis 10.
Three plays later, Drew Bledsoe threw a 3-yard TD pass to
second-round draft pick Josh Reed. That made it 10-7 with 5:04 left
in the first quarter. Reed caught six passes for 58 yards, while
Eric Moulds caught five passes for 64 yards.
The Bills also allowed three sacks.
"The upside is it's all fixable,'' Bledsoe said after
completing 10 of 20 for 109 yards with one TD and one interception.
"The corrections are simple, straightforward corrections. It won't
take much time, but we have to get the stuff right.''
After the early scoring flurry, things bogged down.
Vanderjagt hit a 36-yard field goal and a 28-yarder to make it
13-7 at halftime. He added a 52-yarder to make it 16-7 early in the
third quarter and a 21-yarder seven seconds into the fourth quarter
to seal the game.
But the Colts left knowing the offense still needed some work.
"We still feel like we're not shooting on all cylinders,''
Manning said. "Hopefully, starting next week, if Edgerrin's going
to come back and he can stay healthy all season, we feel like all
those weapons are going to be there.''
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