|Colts running back Joseph Addai (29) celebrates his first career TD pass with the recipient, Reggie Wayne. It was Indy’s first non-QB scoring toss since 2001.
(Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Imperfect, but still unbeaten
Flawed outing by 7-0 Colts good enough to get by 49ers
Indianapolis’s 16th straight regular-season victory will fit neatly into the Colts’ record book.
But yesterday’s game tapes will show the Colts how imperfect they really are.
With Peyton Manning out of synch and the offense struggling to score touchdowns, the Colts turned to a former quarterback - Joseph Addai - for a 22-yard TD pass that gave Indy an 18-14 victory and its own version of a perfect regular season.
“We need these games if we’re going to push toward our goal, which is the Super Bowl,’’ receiver Reggie Wayne said. “We’re going to need these close games, we’re going to need to fight through a little adversity and push forward. We were able to do that today. It was a grinder. We figured out a way to win.’’
Clearly, there’s plenty of work to do after a sluggish offensive performance - despite all the accolades.
Jim Caldwell became the first rookie coach since the 1970 merger to win his first seven NFL games. Indy extended its franchise record and became the eighth team in league history with 16 straight wins. The Colts are now the last undefeated team in the AFC again, for the fourth time in five years.
But this was not typical Indy.
While Manning finished 31 of 48 for 347 yards, he missed high, wide, and even short, failing to match the incredible efficiency he had in Indy’s first six games. The three-time MVP also failed to throw a TD pass for the first time since Nov. 30, 2008, leaving that job to Addai, the high school All-America quarterback.
It was Addai’s first TD pass as a pro and the first by a Colts non-quarterback since Ken Dilger threw one in 2001. The result was perfect: Wayne lunging toward the end line and getting both feet on the ground to give Indy its first lead seven seconds into the fourth quarter.
Wayne had a career-high 12 catches for 147 yards.
“I was just trying to get the ball out there,’’ Addai said. “In practice, I’m just kind of spotting up there, kind of looking, reading my keys. I don’t really have a key to read, but I kind of sit back there like a real quarterback.’’
The 49ers (3-4) have now lost three straight despite getting a solid performance from Alex Smith in his first start in nearly two years. Smith was 19 of 32 for 198 yards with one TD and one interception.
Romo threw for 256 yards with TDs to Austin, Sam Hurd, and Roy Williams, and was interception-free for the third game in a row. Marion Barber added a TD run and Crayton broke open the game with an 82-yard punt return.
Seattle (2-5), coming off its bye, was within 14-10 late in the second quarter, but did little right after that. Matt Hasselbeck was 22 of 39 for 249 yards, with TD passes to Deion Branch and Justin Griffith.
Chicago struggled to complete drives early on, settling for field goals, but did just enough to put away the team with the league’s worst defense and second-worst offense. Cutler was on the run all day and got sacked a season-high four times.
After giving up a season-high 448 yards to the Bengals last week, the Bears’ defense allowed only 191. However, this was the Browns (1-7), who scored just their fifth offensive TD this season on Derek Anderson’s 1-yard run in the third quarter. Anderson completed only 6 of 17 passes for 76 yards and was intercepted twice before being pulled late for Brady Quinn.
The Titans (1-6) had lost eight straight dating to last season, prompting team owner Bud Adams to call for Young to replace Kerry Collins at quarterback. Johnson helped Young by scoring on runs of 52 and 89 yards, and Young was eased back into the offense with lots of short throws. Young, the third overall pick in 2006, was 15 of 18 for 125 yards, and ran 10 times for 32 yards, not counting two final kneel downs.
Maurice Jones-Drew provided the lone highlights for Jacksonville (3-4), running for 177 yards and TDs of 80 and 79 yards. But he only was given eight carries.
Stewart gained 87 yards on 17 attempts and scored twice. Another highlight to Carolina’s turnover-free day was Jake Delhomme’s 50-yard TD pass to Steve Smith, the first scoring catch by a Panthers wide receiver this season.
The Cardinals (4-3) lost for the third time at home this season. Kurt Warner was intercepted five times and fumbled the ball away once. Julius Peppers returned one of the picks 13 yards for a TD.
Moats took over after starter Steve Slaton lost yet another fumble, his fifth this season. Moats put the Texans ahead, 17-10, with an 11-yard run early in the fourth, added two more scores, and totaled 126 yards on 23 carries. Matt Schaub bounced back from two first-half interceptions to finish 25 of 34 for 268 yards.
The Bills (3-5) were undone by an offense that managed just 204 yards and nine first downs (three in the second half). Terrell Owens did provide his second TD of the year, only it came on a 29-yard run in the first quarter.
The Chargers (4-3) swept the series for the sixth consecutive season and beat the Raiders (2-6) in San Diego for the seventh time in a row. The win also pulled San Diego within two games of Denver for the division lead.
Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips each had two of the Chargers’ five sacks of JaMarcus Russell, who was 14 of 22 for only 109 yards and an interception.
St. Louis (1-7) avoided matching the worst start in franchise history and ended talk about joining Detroit (1-6) as the only teams in NFL history to have an 0-16 season.
St. Louis’s key score came on a trick play. It lined up to kick a field goal, and kicker Josh Brown threw a short pass to a wide-open Daniel Fells, whose 36-yard reception gave the Rams a 10-2 lead in the final minute of the first half.