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Pro Football / Week 4 | NEW ORLEANS 19, INDIANAPOLIS
13 (OT)

Erratic Manning Can't Slow Saints' March

September 28, 1998|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning's education as a rookie quarterback continued at the expense of the Indianapolis Colts' win-loss record. Danny Wuerffel paid his dues as a rookie for New Orleans Saints and seems better for the experience.

Wuerffel passed for touchdowns of 15 yards to Andre Hastings with 41 seconds left in regulation and 33 yards to Cameron Cleeland at 8:50 of overtime Sunday, giving the unbeaten Saints a 19-13 victory over the winless Indianapolis Colts.

Manning threw three more interceptions that led to 13 Saint points and now has an NFL-high 11 for the Colts (0-4).

"Sometimes it happens quick," said Wuerffel, who had failed to lead the Saints to a touchdown and was sacked 15 times in two starts as a rookie last season. "Fortunately, they don't put parentheses with 'pretty' behind any win. So a win's a win. As long as you do what you've got to do to win a game."

Manning and Faulk, both natives of New Orleans, put the Colts ahead 13-6 in the fourth quarter by teaming up for a 78-yard touchdown. But the Saints (3-0) regained the ball with 2:49 to go, converted a fourth-and-17 with a 44-yard completion to former Colt Sean Dawkins, and tied the game with the touchdown pass to Hastings.

Indianapolis reached midfield on its second possession of overtime after a 20-yard pass to Faulk and a personal foul on New Orleans' Joe Johnson. But Tyronne Drakeford made the third interception of Manning and returned it to the Indianapolis 36. Lamar Smith, who had a career-high 157 yards rushing, then ran three yards and Wuerffel connected with Cleeland for the winning touchdown.

"It was a tough one, I'm not going to lie to you," said Colt Coach Jim Mora, who coached the Saints from 1986-96. "When you fight hard and you have it, basically, in hand there and then to lose it like that, yeah, it's tough. But I've been through this before. It's a test of a team's character."

"I am happy with the way Peyton's progressing," Mora said. "You can't blame all three interceptions on Peyton. There were a couple of them it looked to me like the guy should have caught. He's working about as hard as he can work. He made some excellent throws, some excellent decisions."

Manning, the son of former Saint star Archie Manning, was 19 for 32 for a career-high 309 yards and was sacked four times.

His first two interceptions led to field goals by Doug Brien that tied the game 6-6.

"I feel like I'm seeing things a lot better. I never felt confused out there," Manning said. "I was seeing the defenses, but I still need to continue to improve on those things."

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