Colts Stay Unbeaten with 42-6 Victory over Rams at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
Peyton Manning needn't have worried after all.
Manning, who entered the game a bit concerned about maintaining momentum after a mid-October bye, threw three touchdowns, and the Colts' defense did not allow a touchdown for a second consecutive game. As a result, the unbeaten, AFC South-leading Colts pulled steadily away from the St. Louis Rams Sunday afternoon for a 42-6 victory in front of 60,108 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
A week off? An opponent with a less-than-stellar record?
A fourth road game in the last six weeks?
No problem. Not for the Colts on Sunday.
"I've never really looked at a team's record," Manning, the Colts' nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and three-time Associated Press Most Valuable Player, told Colts Radio afterward.
"But on the road it's nice to come out to a good start and get a lead and hopefully dictate. The team that wins is the team that usually ends up dictating most of the game."
The Colts (6-0) scored on their first two possessions, with Manning throwing a touchdown pass on each possession, and the Rams (0-7) never got closer than 11 points after the first quarter.
The victory was the Colts' fourth in succession by 17 or more points.
"It was pretty complete today," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell told Colts Radio after becoming the fifth head coach in NFL history to start his first season 6-0.
The victory left the Colts as one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL. The Denver Broncos (6-0) and New Orleans Saints (6-0) are the others.
The Colts have won their last 15 regular-season games dating to last season, the longest streak in franchise history. The Colts also are now one of 10 teams in NFL history to win 15 consecutive regular-season games. New England won 21 consecutive games from 2006-2008.
The victory also kept Indianapolis two-and-a-half games ahead of the Houston Texans (4-3) in the AFC South. The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) and Tennessee Titans (0-6) were idle Sunday, and Houston beat San Francisco, 24-21.
"Coming off a bye week, you never know how guys are going to respond or react," Colts tight end Dallas Clark, whose 27-yard touchdown pass gave the Colts a 14-3 first-quarter lead, told Colts Radio. "We came out with a purpose, and that shows you the leadership on this team.
"We have a lot of guys who have been around the block a few times. The younger guys are picking it up quick."
The Colts, who entered the game as the No. 3-ranked offense in the NFL, outgained the Rams, 391-272, and had 24 first downs to 14 for the Rams.
Manning, who entered the game as the AFC's top-rated passer, completed 23 of 34 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He did not throw for more than 300 yards for the first time this season, but he finished the game with a passer rating of 116.7.
It was his fifth consecutive game with a passer rating of more than 100, and he has thrown for at least two touchdowns in five consecutive games. He has 15 touchdown passes in six games.
The Colts on Sunday also rushed for a season-high 156 yards, with running back Joseph Addai running for 64 yards on 20 carries, rookie Donald Brown rushing twice for 58 yards and second-year veteran Chad Simpson rushing three times for 35 yards.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Austin Collie caught touchdown passes from Manning, and Addai and Simpson each rushed for touchdowns.
"Our offense clicked pretty well for the most part," Caldwell said.
Defensively, the Colts sacked Rams quarterback Marc Bulger three times and intercepted him twice, with rookie cornerback Jacob Lacey's 35-yard interception return for a touchdown giving the Colts a 28-6 lead with one minute remaining in the third quarter.
"It's the best feeling you can accomplish as a corner," Lacey told Colts Radio afterward. "It was a dagger. I definitely think that took a little wind out of their chest."
Bulger completed 14 of 26 passes for 140 yards and finished with a rating of 37.3. Rams running back Steve Jackson rushed for 134 yards on 23 carries, including 101 yards on 13 second-half carries.
"Our defense did a great job keeping us in there," Manning said.
The Colts' defense has not allowed a touchdown since allowing two in the fourth quarter against Seattle. They have not allowed a touchdown in the first half – or one with less than an 18-point lead – since Week 2.
"I think we're playing really well together," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, who had his team-leading seventh sack in the second quarter, told Colts Radio. "It's like a functioning wave. We're playing off each other. . . .
"We go out and try to establish that from the first snap. There is no let off. We've been here before."
Manning's first quarter included a six-yard touchdown pass to Wayne that capped a 12-play, 90-yard drive on the game's first possession.
"There's always sort of an unknown coming off a bye week," Manning said. "To come out and have that drive to start the game and get a touchdown . . . I thought that was imant."
Wayne caught six passes for 76 yards in the first half, but left with a strained groin. He returned on the first series of the second half.
Josh Brown converted a 30-yard field goal on the Rams' first possession to make it 7-3, but Manning led the Colts on a three-play, 78-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Manning capped that drive with a 27-yard pass to Clark.
Manning said he looked first looked to Wayne on the play, but a safety adjusted to cover Wayne, after which Manning looked to Clark.
"It was just a corner route," Manning told Colts Radio. "The safety was on the hash. Once he moves to the middle of the field, that brings you back to Dallas Clark. I just tired to throw it up high and give us a chance. Dallas has made that catch before. I'm not saying it's routine, but he can spoil you."
Brown set up Clark's touchdown with a 45-yard run, then left the game shortly thereafter with a shoulder injury. He did not return.
Manning then directed an eight-play, 41-yard drive late in the first half. Addai ended the drive with a six-yard touchdown run that was set up by a block by guard Mike Pollak.
Brown's second field goal, a 45-yarder, cut the Colts' lead to 15, but Lacey's interception return pushed it to 22. Manning threw eight yards to Collie to make it 35-6 with 3:42 remaining, and a little more than a minute later, Simpson's 31-yard run made it 42-6.
The Colts, after a 14-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium in the regular-season opener, have played just one home game since, a 34-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Since beating Jacksonville, they have won at 2008 AFC East Champion Miami in Week 2 (27-23), at defending NFC Champion Arizona in Week 3 (31-10) and at defending AFC South Champion Tennessee in Week 5 (31-9).
They had last week off before traveling to St. Louis.
"Any time you get a win in this league, it's big," Caldwell said. "Our guys have certainly done a great job handling these road games. They've been able to adjust quite well."