If the Indianapolis Colts are going to bench Peyton Manning during blowouts, the least they can do is hire a band for him to conduct.
Manning ended up on the sideline for the first time in his NFL career Sunday, benched after three quarters in the Colts' 44-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The last time Manning came out of a game, he was still at the University Tennessee. There, he would often lead the Volunteers band in a few verses of the school fight song, "Rocky Top."
"I did it in college when we had some big leads," said Manning, who played 1,590 consecutive snaps since he was drafted No. 1 in 1998. "If it's going to happen, I'm glad it's because we had a big lead. I'm glad it's not because of an injury or because we were getting blown out."
There was no chance of that. Manning threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters, and rookie Edgerrin James ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone. It was 17-0 after the first quarter, 30-3 at halftime.
"We came in very excited and motivated for this game expecting a great challenge," said Manning, who must have been disappointed.
James rushed for a career-high 152 yards, pushing him over 1,000 for the season and proving yet again that the Colts knew what they were doing when the picked him ahead of Ricky Williams.
"There's nobody that can put more pressure on me than myself," said James, who scored untouched on a 62-yard run in the first quarter after Jeff Saturday freed him with a crushing block. "Anybody could have scored on that one."
Marvin Harrison, a Philadelphia native and the NFL's leading receiver, had five catches for 60 yards to become the fifth 1,000-yard receiver in Colts history.
"I could have used a few more passes," Harrison said.
Manning was 16-for-26, including an 80-yard TD pass to Terrence Wilkins on the Colts' first play of the third quarter. Steve Walsh relieved in the fourth and presided over three turnovers that led to Philadelphia's only two touchdowns.
The Colts challenged McNabb's first career touchdown pass while leading 44-3 with 8:27 left in the game. McNabb's 6-yard TD pass to Chad Lewis in the back of the end zone was upheld.
"Why let them score if they don't deserve to score?" Mora said. "I don't care if we're behind by 30 points or ahead by 30 points. To me, every play's important."
Eagles defensive lineman Steve Martin said, "I guess they have pride. They don't want to be scored upon."
That wasn't much of a concern against the Eagles, whose offense struggled in McNabb's second start. The Eagles (3-8) netted two yards in the first quarter, 40 by halftime and managed only three first downs in the first half when the game was still remotely competitive.
"All in all, that was a pitiful football game from our standpoint," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.
One week after winning his first NFL start, McNabb was sacked four times, threw two interceptions and fumbled three times leading to 17 points. He was 19-for-36 for 165 yards and a touchdown.
More than half the crowd of 65,521 went home after McNabb's third fumble led to Manning's 17-yard pass to James that made it 44-3 in the third.
"I kind of figured the second game would be a little tougher than the first," McNabb said.
McNabb was sacked on his first play from scrimmage and didn't produce a first down until four minutes remained in the second quarter. He was sacked and fumbled on the first play of the second quarter, leading to a recovery by Ellis Johnson and a 29-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt that made it 20-0.
"I certainly understand what he's going through," said Manning, who started right away as a rookie while McNabb watched from the bench for nine weeks. "I know that last year, nobody took it easy on me."
King and backup safety Tito Wooten were suspended for the game due to unspecified violations of team rules.
"I'm not going to say anything else about it," said Mora, who would not say when the players would return.
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