"He's Peyton Manning, for God's sake," Broncos defensive lineman Trevor Pryce said. "You're not going to make him look like a high school quarterback in one game."
Manning threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns over his 2½ quarters of action, helping the Colts' first-team offense to its first significant success of the preseason.
"I don't care if it's preseason or whatever, you want to at least play well," Manning said. "Offensively, we were much improved."
Plummer was almost as good. He went 10-for-16 for 150 yards and one score in his two-plus quarters, his second successive solid preseason performance.
Anderson was Denver's star, scoring a 93-yard touchdown as part of his 159-yard, two-score night. It came one year to the day since he was lost for the 2004 season with a groin injury suffered in a preseason game against Houston.
"My biggest concern was being caught from behind," Anderson said. "When you have a run like that, you don't want to be caught."
After a couple of shaky drives to start the game, Manning and the Colts appeared in postseason form -- or at least the kind of postseason form they had shown the past two years against Denver.
Indianapolis outscored the Broncos 90-34 and Manning totaled 835 yards and nine touchdown passes in playoff victories the past two years, each of which has prompted big changes in the Denver secondary.
This year, Denver used its first three draft picks on cornerbacks.
Manning took advantage of one of them, confusing second-rounder
Williams was playing in place of Champ Bailey, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Denver's other starting defensive backs, however, were on the field and all got a taste of Manning.
He hit Reggie Wayne for a 27-yard score on a play in which Lenny Walls and John Lynch appeared confused about the coverage. Manning and Wayne connected earlier on a 44-yard play in which Wayne got behind Walls, but Walls caught up to the receiver and punched the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
The Denver offense was equally effective against an Indianapolis defense missing four starters and with 11 more players listed as out with injuries.
Anderson was the biggest story. In addition to his 93-yard score, he had a 25-yard run and a 20-yard catch from Plummer. The reception came early in the third quarter and set up Anderson's 2-yard touchdown run behind a block from defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who checked in as a fullback.
"We really feel like Mike is in great shape," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's had a great camp. There are no questions in our minds that he's totally healthy."
The touchdown made it 24-17 and the Broncos stopped Manning on the next drive. Williams ended the drive by sacking Manning after coming free on a cornerback blitz.
The Colts fell to 0-4 in the preseason, but still, the day had to be deemed a success for Indy's first-team offense, which committed two first-quarter turnovers and managed only one score in six possessions last week against Chicago.
"We would have liked to have gotten a win, but we still have another preseason game, so that's the way we have to look at it," Wayne said.
Denver, meanwhile, can feel good about Plummer's performance and can probably anoint Anderson the starting tailback. But there are still questions at receiver, where Ashley Lelie played great -- five catches for 104 yards -- but nobody else, including Jerry Rice (no catches), stood out.
The game was played a week after 49ers lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed in the locker room and died following a preseason contest against Denver at Invesco Field. A moment of silence was observed before the game to honor Herrion.
- Jim Sorgi went 10-for-18 for 99 yards with a TD and an interception in relief of Manning.
- After committing 12 penalties for 89 yards against Chicago last week, the Colts only had four for 35 against Denver.
- Walls left with a bruised knee.
- Broncos tailback Quentin Griffin saw his first action of the preseason and had nine carries for 33 yards.
- Broncos DL John Engelberger had three sacks.
The Associated Press News Service
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