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The Colts lost their 2010 pre-season opener, 37-17, to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but before four turnovers, Indianapolis' starters controlled momentum early.


Colts Starters Control Early Part of 37-17 Preseason-Opening loss to San Francisco

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts entered their 2010 preseason opener wanting to see some efficiency, to gain some experience and to get a victory.

They got efficiency early. They got experience late.

What they didn't get early on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium was a victory, with the San Francisco 49ers turning four Colts turnovers into a 37-17 come-from-behind victory in front of an announced crowd of 65,664 in the preseason opener for both teams.

"At the onset, obviously we played pretty well," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said after the 49ers out-gained the Colts, 335-235 – 288-140 after the first quarter.

"We moved the ball fairly well and got a field goal the first time around. Obviously, things started going the other way and we didn't play nearly as well."

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning played the first two series, leaving with 6:23 remaining in the first quarter and the Colts leading, 10-0. Manning before the game received the Associated Press National Football League Most Valuable Player trophy he won for the fourth time last season.

"There were some things we could do better, but it was a good way to start," Manning said after he completed eight of 10 passes for 91 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions.

The Colts were particularly efficient early, on offense and on defense.

And a turnover helped Indianapolis start quickly.

San Francisco RB-Michael Robinson fumbled on the first play of the game, with Colts Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea forcing the fumble. Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis recovered at the 49ers 18.

The Colts drove to the 49ers' 3, with kicker Adam Vinatieri's 21-yard field goal giving Indianapolis a 3-0 led with 11:51 remaining in the quarter. The Colts converted a 3rd-and-8 on the series, with Manning throwing a quick pass to running back Joseph Addai, who turned the play into a 12-yard catch and run.

Vinatieri's field goal came one play after an incomplete pass into the end zone from Manning to wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez.

"It was quick enough," Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "We wanted to start fast. The defense kind of gave us a boost, a quick turnover. . . ."

The Colts had their most effective extended drive of the game on the next series.

"The second drive was good," Manning said.

After the Colts' defense forced a punt without a first down, Indianapolis took possession its 11-yard line. Manning quickly began moving the Colts.

He completed a 20-yard pass to second-year receiver Austin Collie, then followed that with a nine-yard pass to Reggie Wayne before passing to Gonzalez, who turned a short pass into an 18-yard gain.

Manning, who finished the drive completing 6 of 6 passes for 78 yards, then completed passes to tight end Jacob Tamme (16 yards), Collie (eight yards) and Wayne (seven yards) before Addai capped the drive with a seven-yard run to make it 10-0.

"I thought Addai made a heck of a run on the touchdown," Manning said.

Manning left the game after the series, as did several other starters. The Colts at that point had outgained San Francisco, 104-9.

Curtis Painter, a second-year veteran and Manning's backup, entered the game on the ensuing series. Playing eight series, he completed nine of 19 passes for 64 yards with three interceptions, the first of which bounced off the hands of Sam Giguere before 49ers cornerback Reggie Smith returned it 91 yards for a touchdown.

That made it 10-7, Colts, with 1:27 elapsed in the second quarter.

"Obviously, he didn't play as well as he'd like to," Caldwell said of Painter. "But overall, he needed a little help, too. Oftentimes, you look at a quarterback and see his production and the things that are hidden are dropped passes, opunities to extend drives.

"This is a tough league. It's not easy. You need everybody at their best and we certainly were not."

A three-yard run by Robinson with 7:21 remaining in the second quarter gave the 49ers the lead, and a pair of field goals – one of 37 yards and the other of 35 yards – by Shane Andrus gave the 49ers a 20-10 lead at halftime.

The 49ers pushed the lead to 17 late in the third quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from David Carr – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans – to tight end Tony Curtis, and a 5-yard touchdown run by Anthony Dixon gave the 49ers a 34-10 lead with 12:40 remaining.

Tom Brandstater finished the game at quarterback for the Colts, playing four series and completing eight of 12 passes for 34 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Jacob Tamme to make it 34-17, San Francisco, with 10:58 remaining.

The Colts forced four turnovers, an interception by cornerback Jerraud Powers and three fumble recoveries, turning the plays into a first-quarter field goal and a fourth-quarter touchdown. All of the 49ers' takeaways came on interceptions and San Francisco turned the plays into 17 points.

"Obviously, that's how you get a lopsided score," Caldwell said.

Devin Moore rushed for 26 yards on four carries to lead the Colts, who finished with 58 yards and a rushing touchdown. Rookie Blair White caught four passes for the Colts for a team-high 38 yards. Rookie Brandon James handled punts and kickoffs early, returning one punt for five yards and four kickoffs for a 24.8-yard average.

The Colts played without several starters, including center four-time Pro Bowl Jeff Saturday, Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, wide receiver Pierre Garcon, two-time Pro Bowl safety safety Bob Sanders, linebacker Clint Session, left tackle Charlie Johnson and five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney.

"We have a lot of work to do," Caldwell said. "We have to keep working. . . . You look at it for what it is. Whoever did well, you tell them they did well and talk about what they could have done better. Those guys who didn't do well, you talk about how you can do better.

"The first game for a lot of the younger guys is an eye-opening experience for them."

The Colts will return to Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., Monday for the final three days of 2010 Training Camp. They will then break camp Wednesday and play the Buffalo Bills in the second preseason game Thursday night in Toronto.

"We go back to Anderson anxious about looking at this film and correcting our mistakes," Wayne said. "We've only got a few days left there, so we need to use those three days to the best of our ability. We want to break this film down, correct our mistakes and get better. We can't go into these last couple of days in Anderson hoping to hurry up and get out of there.

"We have a pretty good team and the sky's the limit for us."

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