INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Once again, the defense bailed out the Indianapolis Colts.

Cato June had two interceptions that set up two touchdowns and Nick Harper had an interception and a fumble recovery to set up scores as the Colts overcame a 17-0 deficit to beat the St. Louis Rams 45-28 on Monday night and remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team.

Edgerrin James helped things along with 143 yards rushing on 23 carries and three touchdowns and Peyton Manning had two touchdown passes, including a record-setter to Marvin Harrison.

The Rams, playing without ailing coach Mike Martz, lost quarterback Marc Bulger to a sprained shoulder in the second quarter after he led St. Louis to the early lead.

But it was almost all defense for Indianapolis.

Dwight Freeney chipped in with a forced fumble for the Colts (6-0) and Robert Mathis took over the NFL sack lead with seven – he has at least one in every game this season. That provided the field position that allowed Indianapolis to run 36 consecutive plays in St. Louis territory in the last 27 minutes of the game.

Bulger, who was 6-of-8 for 121 yards and a touchdown, was hurt when he was blocked by David Thornton on the first of the interceptions by June, a third-year linebacker who leads the NFL with five picks. It came less than three minutes into the second quarter and led to James’ 8-yard touchdown run.

Jamie Martin took over at quarterback for the Rams and could do little but throw underneath until late in the game. He threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Cam Cleeland for a meaningless TD that made it 45-28.

And Steven Jackson, who had 46 yards in a 162-yard first quarter for the Rams (2-4) could do little after that, finishing with 88 yards on 17 carries. St. Louis had just over 100 yards in the second and third quarters, when the Colts made their run.

Manning finished 22-of-32 for 191 yards.

His 6-yard TD pass to Harrison with 9:25 left in the game set a record of 86 TDs for a passer-receiver combination. Manning and Harrison had been tied at 85 with San Francisco’s Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

That came after the defense had pushed Indianapolis back to its own 2 on a sack by Mathis.

St. Louis was coached by assistant head coach Joe Vitt with Martz out indefinitely with a bacterial infection of the heart valve.

The Rams took the early lead on a 21-yard run by Jackson on the first series of the game; a 29-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins; and a 57-yard TD pass from Bulger to Kevin Curtis, who ran right by a stumbling Jason David.

The Colts also stumbled on offense. The normally sure-handed Harrison let a potential TD pass slip off his fingers and Dominic Rhodes fumbled a kickoff to set up Wilkins’ short field goal.

But they finally came back with TDs in the second quarter.

James went in from a yard out on a drive set up by June’s interception – the play on which Bulger was hurt. Then Manning found Reggie Wayne from 3 yards at the end of an 86-yard TD drive to cut it to 17-14. Wilkins’ 49-yard field goal completed the scoring.

AP-ES-10-18-05 0026EDT

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