“I felt pretty good about it,” Beck said. “I’m antsy to see the tape and see what I can improve on because I knew there were things I could tweak.”
Beck, who is battling for his first starting opportunity since his rookie year in 2007, got the start a week after a groin injury forced him to watch as Rex Grossman took all of the first-team snaps in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. Grossman operated the offense at a crisp pace, but in the days leading up to his opportunity, Beck said he felt no pressure to match his rival.
“Just put the ball in the end zone,” Beck said when asked what goals he had for the Colts game.
He didn’t record a touchdown pass. With his team on the Colts’ 20-yard line during the opening drive of the game, Beck completed a strike to wide receiver Jabar Gaffney down the middle of the field. But Gaffney was stopped at the 1, and three plays later, running back Tim Hightower rumbled in.
But Beck didn’t make any glaring errors, either. He paced the team through drives of 80, 45, 74 and 84 yards. Like Grossman the week before, Beck set the tone for an uptempo attack. He spread the ball around, connecting with 10 pass-catchers (Terrence Austin’s three catches for 23 yards led the way), but he didn’t test the Colts’ defense deep, instead remaining content to hit receivers for short, quick gains that averaged 10 yards per completion.
“That’s the name of the game in Coach Shanahan’s offense: Be smart, be accurate and don’t force anything, and kind of use your legs a little bit,” said Beck, who had two rushes for 17 yards.
Beck did find himself under more pressure than Grossman saw the week before. After not giving up a sack against Pittsburgh, the Redskins’ offensive line allowed Indianapolis to get to Beck three times.
“John did a good job. I felt we moved the ball,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “There’s always room for improvement in all areas. I’ll have to take a look at the film to give you a good evaluation of everybody. But overall, I liked the way our guys played and the effort they played with.”
Grossman, meanwhile, played the entire third quarter and two drives in the fourth, but lacked the effectiveness he displayed a week earlier. The quarterback completed seven of 12 passes for 88 yards and threw an interception.
“It was all right. I had the one bad play, which I would’ve had back,” Grossman said. “For the most part, we did all right. Production, we didn’t score any points, but there’s some new faces, a couple mistakes here or there that killed us. We made some big plays but we didn’t capitalize on them for some points.”