INDIANPOLIS (AP) — The competition for Washington’s starting quarterback job is all square.
John Beck led the Redskins to scores on each of their first four possessions, kept the ball for more than 23 minutes in the first half and relied on that fast start to get Washington past the Indianapolis Colts 16-3 on Friday night.
He looked sharp and efficient and played mistake-free — the perfect counterpunch to Rex Grossman’s impressive performance last week.
“I know they’re confident in him, I hope they’re confident in me, and I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” Beck said. “I can only worry about me, and I just try to focus on that and be the best that I can.”
So far, so good.
Beck finished 14 of 17 for 140 yards with no touchdowns and, perhaps more important, no interceptions while playing the entire first half. He was sacked three times by the defending AFC South champs.
Grossman started the second half and was 7 of 12 for 88 yards with one interception and one sack. Last week in the first half, Grossman, a former first-round draft pick and Super Bowl starter, was 19 of 26 for 207 yards with one touchdown against defending AFC champion Pittsburgh.
Round 3 will be at Baltimore.
“I thought he did a good job, it’s nice to get him some playing time,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “I know all these guys have been looking forward to it, and it’s one of the reasons we played Rex there in the third and part of the fourth quarter.”
Indianapolis has grown accustomed to these early losses. The Colts have lost eight straight preseason games and are 4-24 since 2005 before the regular season.
But the Colts have rarely been as lethargic and inept as they were Friday.
Curtis Painter started for the second straight week in place of Peyton Manning, still recovering from offseason neck surgery, and Painter struggled again. Despite playing the entire first half, Painter was just 5 of 10 for 40 yards and picked up only one first down. He couldn’t get Indy past its 29-yard line.
Defensively, it wasn’t any better for the Colts.
Against the starters, Washington outgained Indy in yardage 277-41, had almost three times as many plays (41-14) and had two 50-plus yard runs.
Colts coach Jim Caldwell didn’t like it one bit.
“I’m not real pleased with some of the things that went on out there. A lot of the things, I should say,” Caldwell said. “We could tackle a lot better. They had an opportunity to control the clock on us, particularly in the first half. They ran the ball well. A couple of big plays popped loose on us. Those, you have to control.”
The Colts offense was missing Manning, receivers Austin Collie (knee), Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring) and Reggie Wayne (personal matter), and the defense played without tackle Tommie Harris (hamstring) and linebacker Ernie Sims (appendix). The Colts also lost Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea on the game’s second play, and rookie cornerback Chris Rucker, a second-round pick, later in the first quarter — both with hamstring injuries.
Washington played without safeties LaRon Landry (Achilles’ tendon) and Oshiomogho Atogwe (hamstring), tight end Chris Cooley (knee), middle linebacker London Fletcher (groin) and cornerback Josh Wilson (groin).
Tim Hightower found a huge hole on the game’s second play and ran 58 yards. Four plays later, he plunged in from the 1 for a 7-0 Redskins lead.
Beck then set up Graham Gano for three short field goals — from 28, 27 and 26 yards — to give the Redskins a 16-0 advantage with 1:48 left in the first half.
Indy’s lone score came on a 55-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri midway through the third quarter. The Colts’ only other scoring chance was thwarted when Shanahan successfully challenged a 40-yard completion from Dan Orlovsky to Taj Smith that would have put Indianapolis inside the Washington 15.
“He (Beck) did a great job. Offensively, he did what he had to do,” Hightower said. “He moved the ball, he didn’t try to force anything, he executed the offense pretty well. That says a lot about him, but it says a lot about the offensive line, as well.”
NOTES: Redskins rookie Roy Helu ran 14 times for 101 yards. ... Manning spent the game on the sideline dressed in a white collared shirt and khaki slacks. ... The Colts had a moment of silence for the victims of last Saturday’s stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, just hours after a sixth person died. ... The Redskins said before the game they were awarded linebacker Thaddeus Gibson off waivers. Gibson was Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick in 2010 and finished last season with San Francisco. To make room on the roster, Washington released LB Obi Ezeh. ... Indianapolis put veteran offensive lineman Jaimie Thomas on the waived-injured list.