Buffalo Bills beat Colts, 34-21, in Second Game of 2010 Preseason
The Colts traveled to Toronto, Canada, for their second game of the 2010 NFL preseason on Thursday night.
They didn't come home with a victory, but while the Colts lost for a second time in as many 2010 preseason games, and while Head Coach Jim Caldwell said the team could reduce its mistakes, he also said there were positives on Thursday.
The offense moved well early. The team's return game was productive.
And backup quarterback Curtis Painter had a big game.
The Colts, after a back-and-forth first half, stayed close in the third quarter before the Buffalo Bills pulled away with a pair of late scores for a 34-21 victory over Indianapolis in front of 39,583 at Rogers Centre Thursday night in Toronto, Canada.
"We played with good energy," Caldwell told reers afterward. "We did a lot of good things. Our return game was a bright spot.
"We did some things well. I think we improved in some areas, but we still have a lot of work to do."
The Bills led 24-21 at halftime, then pushed the lead to 27-21 on a fourth-quarter field goal by kicker Rian Lindell before reserve running back Joique Bell secured the victory with a two-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining.
The Bills took the lead permanently late in the first half with a 24-yard field goal by Lindell.
The Colts got solid performances from two quarterbacks early Thursday.
First, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning – the National Football League's Most Valuable Player the last two seasons – led the first-team offense to touchdowns on two of their first four possessions, meaning the first-team offense now has scored on four of six possessions this preseason.
The starting offense scored a touchdown and field goal in the preseason opener.
"I think in the preseason, you know you're only going to play a certain amount of plays – you like to score every single time," Manning, who completed 8 of 15 passes against the Bills for 91 yards and a touchdown with an interception, told reporters.
"You have kind of a sense of urgency. It's kind of a unique situation because you know you're only going to play – about 18-to-20 plays was what I think we ended up playing. You want everything to go perfect while you're in there.
"That's not always the case, but I think you have to have those kinds of expectations."
Also notable for the Colts:
The return of safety Bob Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Sanders, who played two games because of knee and biceps injuries a year ago, played early for Indianapolis.
"I'm still a little rusty, trying to get the kinks out," Sanders told WTHR-TV Channel 13. "I felt I did some good things, and there are some things I can improve on."
Painter, four days after throwing three interceptions in a 37-17 preseason-opening loss to San Francisco, completed 5 of 6 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
"Compared to last week, we were taking care of the ball a little better," Painter told Colts Radio. "We were getting completions. When I was out there, we did some things well – again, we still need to fix a few things, but we had a nice drive and taking care of the ball was definitely a positive.
"I think it was just getting into a rhythm early, getting some completions. We made a few plays and let some things happen. That naturally calms you down a little bit."
The Colts also committed four turnovers for a second consecutive preseason game. On Thursday, the turnovers led to 10 points for Buffalo.
The Bills led by three points after a back-and-forth first half.
The Bills, after holding the Colts without a first down on their first series, took a 7-0 lead when running back C.J. Spiller scored on 31-yard touchdown run.
The Colts, who lost three yards on their first series, immediately put together their first game-tying drive of the first half, moving 63 yards in seven plays on a possession that lasted 2:50. Running back Joseph Addai finished the drive with a 17-yard, tackle-breaking run on 1st-and-10.
Reserve running back Devin Moore set up the score with a 38-yard kickoff return.
Moore, a first-year veteran who played at Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis, also had a 22-yard run in the second half. He set up another first-half score with a long punt return.
"He added a spark," Caldwell told Colts television afterward. "Some positive, positive things happened with him."
The Colts held the Bills without a first down on the ensuing possession, then drove quickly to the Bills 27, where Manning threw a pass that went through the hands of fourth-year wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez.
Cornerback Terrence McGee intercepted and returned it for a 78-yard touchdown.
The teams then exchanged punts before Manning directed the Colts on a three-play 17-yard touchdown drive that was again set up by a return by Moore, who returned a punt 49 yards. Manning passed down the middle 21 yards to reserve tight end Jacob Tamme to make it 14-14.
The Bills re-took the lead on the ensuing series when quarterback Trent Edwards passed 70 yards to wide receiver Lee Evans.
Painter replaced Manning late in the first quarter, and early in the second, he led a two-play, 81-yard drive. He passed 38 yards to wide receiver Taj Smith on the first play, then found Smith open down the right side for 43-yard touchdown on the second.
Smith finished with three receptions for 91 yards.
"I was just running takeoff routes, and trying to get over the top of the defender," Smith told Colts Radio. "It definitely helps the confidence. I'm just trying to get into the groove of making plays."
Said Painter, "He made big catches and big plays for us. He got us a score, which was big there. He made two big plays and made two big catches. You kind of have to take advantage of these opportunities. You may not get too many during the season, but getting the experience can certainly translate should anything happen during the season.
"Just continuing to get better and moving forward is really the biggest thing."