Colts harass rookie QB into expected mistakes

Associated Press
Published October 10, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - Peyton Manning shook Alex Smith's hand and dispensed a little postgame advice to the rookie: keep working hard and don't get discouraged, because not every week will be this miserable.

Indianapolis intercepted four of Smith's passes and Edgerrin James rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown for the Colts - who, after Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Washington lost, are the league's lone unbeaten.

Smith's struggles were predictable in his first NFL start. The former Utah star was 9-of-23 for 74 yards, committed five turnovers and was sacked five times.

It was more surprising that the Colts had execution problems - but not a big deal, given their veterans' poise and the 49ers' ineptitude. As Manning told Smith, cool under pressure only can be acquired through experience.

"It is the NFL for a reason," Manning said. "It's a big adjustment."

The Colts scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns on James' 4-yard run and Troy Walters' 18-yard reception.

"I think they were reading a rookie quarterback's eyes, and a few times I gave myself away," Smith said. "I've got to learn when to force some things, and when to throw things away. I talked to Peyton (afterward), and he says it's going to get better."

NOTABLE: Manning started his 117th straight game, breaking a tie with Ron Jaworski for the second-longest streak ever. Green Bay's Brett Favre has started 210 straight.