|NFL Preseason Capsules|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 25 August 2007 18:00|
The Super Bowl MVP appeared to be in midseason form Saturday night, throwing three first-half touchdowns and helping the defending champions control the ball in a 37-10 rout of the Detroit Lions. It was just Indianapolis' second win in 13 preseason games.
In what was likely the final regular-season tuneup for Indy's starters, Manning was flawless. He completed 23-of-27 passes for 233 yards and three TDs - all in the first half - and converted six plays for first downs when he needed at least 10 yards.
Manning and the Colts showed no signs of taking a step backward after winning their first Super Bowl title.
Manning is now 31-of-40 for 331 yards and no interceptions in three weeks, and he was so efficient against Detroit that coach Tony Dungy uncharacteristically changed the script by pulling his starters at halftime. Dungy said he intended to use them into the third quarter.
But what was the point of risking injury when virtually everything Manning did worked?
Marvin Harrison beat single coverage on a slant route for a 13-yard touchdown to give Indy a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. There was a lobbed dump pass in the end zone that the lunging Dallas Clark scooped off the turf for a 5-yard score to make it 14-3. Then there was the nifty 1-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne with 5 seconds left in the half, a ball Manning whizzed past the head of an unknowing Stanley Wilson, for a 21-3 halftime lead.
Consider, too, Manning did all that with an improvised cast of running backs since Dungy wanted to see how backups DeDe Dorsey and Kenton Keith played with the starters.
Bears 31, 49ers 28
CHICAGO (AP) - Rex Grossman showed his good and bad sides.
He fumbled another snap and had an interception returned 52 yards for a touchdown. But along with the mistakes came the moments of brilliance that have teased the Chicago Bears the past few seasons.
Grossman played the first half and passed for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and the defending NFC champions held off the San Francisco 49ers.
Grossman led the Bears to a touchdown on the game's opening drive, a field goal on their second possession, and touchdowns on the third and fourth series. He completed 13 of 20 passes, yet provided more fodder for his critics.
On the field-goal drive, Grossman fumbled a snap after botching two exchanges with center Olin Kreutz on Monday night at Indianapolis, and Walt Harris returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Although he shows Pro Bowl skills at times, Grossman can't seem to eliminate the mistakes. But the Bears (3-0) continue to do enough to win.
A defense missing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris, still rehabilitating from a season-ending hamstring injury, did its part. The starters played into the third quarter, and the 49ers finished with just 206 yards.
San Francisco's Alex Smith was 4-of-8 with 47 yards before giving way to Trent Dilfer in the third, after two sharp performances in the preseason.
Texans 28, Cowboys 16
HOUSTON (AP) - Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans became the first team to score a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys' starters this preseason on Saturday night.
They didn't stop at just one.
Schaub connected with Andre Johnson early in the second quarter and found speedy rookie Jacoby Jones just before halftime.
Schaub, in his first starting job after backing up Michael Vick for three seasons in Atlanta, looked sharp against a defense that flustered Denver last week.
Jones was the star of this one though, returning a punt 91 yards for a score early in the first quarter before leaping for the touchdown grab in the second quarter. It was the second week in a row that Jones, a third-round pick from Division II Lane College, returned a punt for a touchdown after returning one 80 yards last week.
On Saturday he busted through the pack and then outran his last defender and began holding out the ball in front of him at the 10-yard line before flipping into the end zone.
The Texans led 7-0 when Schaub delivered a nifty pass between two defenders to Andre Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. That play was set up by a 46-yard run by Ahman Green two plays earlier. Green finished with eight carries for 65 yards.
Jets 20, Giants 12
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - There is no doubt Eli Manning is the leader of the New York Giants offense.
The Jets can't say the same with Kellen Clemens pushing Chad Pennington for the starting quarterback job.
Clemens came off the bench in the second half and engineered two third-quarter touchdown drives against the Giants' backups to lead the Jets in the annual preseason game between the New York rivals.
The Jets (2-1) scored twice in a little over four minutes to take command. Danny Ware had a go-ahead 16-yard touchdown run and Clemens completed consecutive passes of 45 and 34 yards before scoring on a 1-yard sneak.
Pennington combined with halfback Leon Washington on a 79-yard catch and run for a touchdown on a stunning first play from scrimmage, but he and the offense failed to record a first down the rest of the half.
Pennington finished 5-of-11 for 89 yards. Take away the opening TD pass, and he was 4-for-10 for 10 yards. He has one touchdown pass and two interceptions turned into opposition touchdowns in the preseason.
Manning and the Giants (1-2) dominated early, controlling the ball for more than 21 minutes in taking a 12-6 lead.
It was perfect timing for Manning, whose leadership was criticized by former teammate turned football analyst Tiki Barber on the Sunday Night Football halftime show this past week.
Manning responded with a ripping criticism of Barber on Tuesday, and he followed that up with another solid performance against the Jets.
Buccaneers 31, Dolphins 28
MIAMI (AP) - Jeff Garcia saved his best for last.
Garcia played three series Saturday and had a 26-yard touchdown to Joey Galloway on his final pass.
Bruce Gradkowski brought the Bucs from behind twice in the fourth quarter and threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Earnest Graham and 1 yard to Paris Warren.
``I like some of the things we did offensively,'' said Bucs coach Jon Gruden, whose team improved to 2-1. ``Defensively we have to play better.''
Dolphins rookie John Beck played the entire second half and threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
The first-team units played to a 14-all standoff before both teams began substituting liberally midway through the second quarter.
Miami's Trent Green, formally awarded the No. 1 job this week, pulled off a trick play for one touchdown and threw for another to cap an 18-play drive. He also threw a screen pass that linebacker Cato June intercepted and returned 2 yards for a score.
The Dolphins fell to 2-1.