INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford continues making his pitch to be the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback.
On Saturday night, he threw mostly strikes.
With Carson Wentz missing a second straight game because of fractured ribs, Bradford led the Eagles on three touchdown drives and to a third straight preseason victory, 33-23.
Bradford has been virtually flawless in each of his three starts. This time, he was 17 of 20 for 167 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. He played into the third quarter and led the Eagles to scores on four of their first six possessions.
Will that be enough to hold off Wentz, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft?
First-year coach Doug Pederson isn’t saying yet.
“I made a decision way back in OTAs to split all the reps equally three ways all the way through training camp,” he said.
“This is the first week Sam’s had 100 percent of the reps, and it showed tonight. He was high-percentage, just seeing the field and putting the ball exactly where he wants to put it.”
While Bradford played well, Philadelphia’s defense performed even better Saturday night.
The Eagles stuffed the run and put Andrew Luck under so much duress in the first half, coach Chuck Pagano pulled out Luck for the final two quarters.
All the Colts could muster was a short field goal in the first quarter, a blocked punt that Jordan Todman recovered in the end zone in the third and two late scores.
Luck was 13 of 18 for 134 yards.
Robert Turbin’s 81-yard TD run in the third quarter could have gotten Indy back into the game. The problem: receiver Phillip Dorsett was called for holding. “You can’t survive those penalties,” Luck said. “You can’t do it.”
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri might be the best clutch kicker in NFL history, but he isn’t perfect. After the Colts scored a TD, Vinatieri pushed the extra point wide left.
Eagles: Wentz didn’t play and running back Wendell Smallwood, a fifth-round pick, got two carries before leaving in the third quarter to be evaluated for a head injury. Undrafted rookie David Watford made his time count, though, catching a 28-yard TD pass on his only reception of the game.
Colts: Rookie offensive linemen Ryan Kelly and Le’Raven Clark both had trouble in their first real NFL test. Safety T.J. Green, a second-round pick, had five tackles in his third start.
Eagles: The depth chart at receiver may be tougher to sort out now. Josh Huff caught two passes for 60 yards and scored on a 9-yard run. The recently acquired Dorial Green-Beckham also caught two passes for 15 yards, including a 4-yard TD reception on which he used his bigger body to get position over a smaller defender.
Colts: If there was any doubt about Joe Reitz’s starting job at right tackle, it’s over now. Turbin may have sewn up the No. 2 job at running back after running four times for 24 yards.
Eagles: Defensive end Vinny Curry left in the second quarter with an injured knee, Wendell Smallwood and tight end Chris Pantale both left in the third quarter with head injuries and defensive tackle Taylor Hurt left in the fourth quarter with a sprained knee. None of the four came back in the game.
Colts: Left guard Jack Mewhort was supposed to be one of the key parts on Indy’s offensive line. But he left in the third quarter with a knee injury and is scheduled to have an MRI to determine if it’s a torn ACL. Cornerback Darius Butler also did not return after injuring his ankle in the first quarter.
Eagles: Pederson on whether Wentz could play Thursday against the New York Jets: “He’s in a position to possibly play next week. He’s still a little bit sore, so we’ll monitor that and make sure he rests here in the next couple of days.”
Colts: Luck on Indy’s multitude of errors: “Nothing quite reminds you like a game, how important the details are. Every little detail matters. We definitely have some things to clean up.”