ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Indianapolis Colts ignored the absence of Edgerrin James and Jerome Pathon Sunday, relying on both the passing and running of Peyton Manning to down the Buffalo Bills, 30-14.
In Week 2, Buffalo suffered a 42-26 thumping at Indianapolis, allowing 534 yards and failing to force a punt. In that game, Manning threw for 421 yards and four scores, James ran for 111 yards and Pathon caught nine passes for 168 yards.
In this one, the Bills did not have to worry about James or Pathon, both of whom were out with injuries. James missed a game for the first time in his career with a hyperextended left knee and Pathon missed his fourth straight contest with a foot sprain.
The Bills were able to somewhat limit Manning, who had just one touchdown pass -- a 15-yarder to tight end Marcus Pollard on the first play of the second quarter to open the scoring. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 199 yards.
However, Manning stunned Buffalo's defense and just about all of the 63,786 in Ralph Wilson Stadium with a naked bootleg, going untouched for a 33-yard scoring run that gave the Colts the lead for good at 14-7 with 9:18 left in the second quarter. Manning had never run for more than 26 yards in a game.
"Quarterback bootlegs are the best when nobody else knows," he said. "It was a run play all the way. At the last minute, I saw their safety cheating to the side. They bit."
Dominic Rhodes filled in nicely for James, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries and catching four passes for 45 yards. Last week against Kansas City, Rhodes returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.
"I felt like it was a coming-out game for me," Rhodes said. "That's what I wanted it to be. I think I did a pretty good job. My line blocked great for me today. I think it was a great overall game by the whole offense."
"I'm really proud of him," Manning said. "He never missed an assignment. There is no replacement for Edgerrin, but there wasn't a panic. He's been ready, he always knows he's been one step away."
The Bills (1-6) could not get untracked as the offense did not score until less than four minutes remained. They fell to 0-4 at home for the first time since 1984, when they started 0-6.
"We didn't play well," Bills coach Gregg Williams said. "We didn't tackle well on defense. We did not protect our quarterback very well at the beginning of the ballgame. We turned the ball over in short fields and we are not good enough to play on short fields."
Mike Vanderjagt kicked three field goals for Indianapolis (4-3), which has outscored Buffalo, 134-76, in winning the last four meetings. This was their final meeting as AFC East opponents.
"I feel bad for our fans," said Buffalo quarterback Rob Johnson. "It's tough for them to keep coming out and cheering."
"Overall, I thought we played pretty well," Colts coach Jim Mora said. "Had we not given up that late touchdown, our defense would have shut them out."
The Bills have four new starters on the offensive line and the inexperience is starting to take its toll. Johnson has been sacked 26 times this season, including 10 by the Colts, who had six in this one.
"We did a good job from all directions putting pressure on him, getting him down, causing a few fumbles, not letting him hurt us," Colts defensive end Chad Bratzke said.
"We all got to look at ourselves, coaches as well," Johnson said. "Their defense isn't ranked that high. I'd rather have more guys out there (in patterns) than keep them in to protect. It was very hard to get in a rhythm. I feel bad for our wideouts. They're getting double-covered."
Manning's touchdown pass came six plays after Johnson's fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Josh Williams at the Bills 44. Manning kept things moving by running eight yards on third and seven.
Buffalo's Nate Clements returned a punt 66 yards for a score -- the first punt return for a touchdown by the Bills in eight years -- before Manning's touchdown run. He went around left end and beat cornerback Antoine Winfield to the end zone.
"It was an all-out blitz," Winfield said. "Our outside linebacker had containment. He went in chasing the running back and (Manning) had a clear lane to the end zone. I looked back and saw. They tackled the running back."
Johnson was 17 of 33 for 172 yards and rookie Travis Henry had 61 yards on 13 carries for the Bills, who managed just 232 yards.