|Saints coach Sean Payton had no answers for the explosive Colts. (JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES)|
Manning, Colts sprint out of gate
Super Bowl champs leave Saints in dust
INDIANAPOLIS - It took the Colts one half to shake off their post-Super Bowl hangover.
Then Peyton Manning and friends came alive to beat New Orleans, 41-10, last night in the NFL's opener, running away in the final 30 minutes.
Playing against his hometown team, Manning had three touchdown passes, two to Reggie Wayne and another to Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai ran for 118 yards on 23 carries and a super-quick defense with four new starters 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, who finished 18 of 30 for 288 yards, 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," Colts 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, 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.
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 Dallas Clark that set up Adam Vinatieri's 33-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.
But the Saints, who lost to Chicago in the NFC title game, never could get their potent offense going.
Bush and Deuce McAllister each finished with just 38 yards, Bush on 12 carries and McAllister on 10. Brees was 27 of 40 for 183 yards and two interceptions.
The only score by the New Orleans offense was a 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare in the second quarter.