DENVER -- Barreling around the corner like a pulling guard, Peyton Manning cleared the way for an extra five yards.
So maybe it wasn't the best idea to have the quarterback as the lead blocker in a preseason game, but Manning wasn't about to let up.
"We're playing on national television and I don't care if it is the preseason," said Manning, who finished 15-for-22 for 157 yards. "You want try to send some kind of message to the other teams and to the country that we feel like we're going to have a good team this year."
Recent injuries to quarterbacks Michael Vick and Chad Pennington had some bemoaning that the preseason is too long, but Manning played as if it was a playoff game.
Manning got in several good shots on Denver cornerback Kelly Herndon on the reverse before walking back to the huddle with a big smile on his face.
Allen scored on a 4-yard run six plays later, stiff-arming Sam Brandon at the line to put the Colts (2-1) up 21-13 with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
"You can't worry about that. You have to go play," Colts coach Tony Dungy said of potential injuries to his blocking quarterback. "Usually, when you're playing hard, good things happen for you."
Denver quarterback Jake Plummer got the playing hard part right, but that didn't stop him from being booed in his first home game with the Broncos.
Plummer fumbled his first snap, threw a pass that Colts linebacker Gary Brackett should have intercepted, and missed a wide-open Ed McCaffrey on what would have been an 18-yard touchdown. And that was just on the first drive.
"I don't think he was nervous," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "I just think he was like everybody else - looking forward to playing the game."
Plummer was much better on Denver's second drive, thanks to Ashley Lelie.
Plummer rolled out on the first play of the series, thought about running, then pulled up for a pass at the last second. Lelie adjusted to the slightly underthrown ball and made a leaping grab over Mike Doss for a 55-yard touchdown.
But that was about it for Plummer.
He dropped another snap in the second quarter, then was booed after Anthony Floyd intercepted his overthrown pass on Denver's first drive of the third period.
It was his final pass before Steve Beuerlein took over midway through the third quarter.
"I'm not too concerned," said Plummer, who was 15-for-22 for 205 yards. "Things will improve. I'm not happy with the way it ended. Nobody wants to throw a pick on their last throw."
The Colts sputtered early before getting things going late in the first quarter. After managing just 27 yards on its first two drives, Indianapolis moved 66 yards in nine plays for its first score. Manning capped the drive with a 14-yard pass to Clark, who was wide open after no one covered the middle for the Broncos (2-1).
The Colts didn't take long to score again.
Allen took a screen pass from Manning on the third play of the next drive, got a key block from guard Rick Demulling and turned it into a 53-yard touchdown.
Demulling took out safety Kenoy Kennedy near the 20-yard line, and Allen leaped over the corner pylon from about four yards out to put the Colts up 14-10.
"We played like we had been off 10 or 12 days, and it took us a while to get back the groove," Dungy said. "I like the way we bounced back."
Indianapolis' Jim Kubiak hit Aaron Moorehead on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 2:38 left. Denver cut the lead to 28-23 on a 5-yard pass from Danny Kanell to Dwayne Carswell with 40 seconds left, but the Colts recovered the ensuing on-side kick.
- Indianapolis backup QB Brock Huard missed his third straight game with a broken index finger on his throwing hand.
- The teams will play again Dec. 21 in Indianapolis.
- Denver LT Ephraim Salaam played in the preseason for the first time after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Aug. 1.
- Denver's Jason Elam hit field goals of 36, 39 and 42 yards.
- Broncos RB Clinton Portis didn't play in the second half because of a bruised calf, but the injury wasn't considered serious.
The Associated Press News Service
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