ST. LOUIS – Sam Bradford produced 17 points in four possessions with big help from a defense that jumped on Peyton Manning's backups for a pair of early interceptions as the St. Louis Rams opened the preseason with a 33-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
Josh Brown's 60-yard field goal capped an almost perfect first half not just for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' rebuilt attack but for all phases. Brown's boot bettered his career best of 58 yards in 2003 with the Seattle Seahawks and he added a 53-yarder in the third quarter.
Manning almost blended into the crowd on the Colts sideline in blue jeans and wearing a ball cap, but his presence on the field was sorely missed. Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky threw costly interceptions early, giving the Rams possession deep in Indianapolis territory to set up 10 easy points.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney also did not play for the Colts, who beat the Rams 42-6 in the last regular-season meeting in 2009. Indianapolis has made nine straight playoff appearances and will be a lot more formidable with Manning, but has lost seven straight preseason openers.
Manning underwent neck surgery on May 23 and has not practiced. The Colts have said they expect him to be ready for the opener Sept. 11 at Houston.
Bradford was in for 24 snaps, topping coach Steve Spagnuolo's estimate of 12-15 plays earlier in the week. He was 7 for 12 for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also had a chat with Manning on the field after the game.
Steven Jackson who was in uniform but did not play for St. Louis, which also excelled on defense without middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (pectoral). Backup running back Cadillac Williams had 40 yards on 11 carries with a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Keith Toston had 64 yards and a 5-yard score.
The first half was penalty-free, unusual for a preseason opener and especially because the lockout wiped out minicamps and OTAs. The first whistle was for pass interference on the Rams' Chris Chamberlain with 8:17 to go in the third quarter.
Quintin Mikell picked off Painter on the third play of the game and his 25-yard return to the Colts 16 set up a 6-yard scoring catch and run by rookie tight end Lance Kendricks, who bulled the last few yards into the end zone.
Orlovsky entered on the Colts' third series and his first pass was picked off by Craig Dahl, whose 18-yard return to the Indianapolis 16 set up a chip-shot field goal for a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter.
Orlovsky threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Taj Smith in the third quarter.