INDIANAPOLIS -- It wasn't so much the big plays by Atlanta but the big mistakes by Indianapolis that cost the Colts dearly.
Danny Kanell threw for two touchdowns following costly Indianapolis errors as the Falcons won their preseason opener 20-13 Saturday night.
"It seemed like our receivers were able to get open against a defense that didn't know what was coming," said Kanell, who replaced starter Chris Chandler early in the second quarter and was 9-for-15 for 92 yards. "Our execution was very good during certain series. We're only going to get better."
His first touchdown pass, 14 yards to Brian Kozlowski in the second quarter, was set up when Colts rookie David Macklin bobbled a punt that the Falcons recovered at the Indianapolis 25.
Then, with the score tied midway through the fourth period, a personal foul on Billy Austin gave Atlanta the ball at the Colts 13, where Kanell passed to Brian Finneran for the winning TD.
"We saw some good things, especially defensively, holding them to one touchdown," Falcons coach Dan Reeves said. "It was typical of the first preseason game. There were a lot of mistakes, but overall we did a lot more things well than poorly."
The only Indianapolis touchdown was on a 4-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison early in the second quarter. Neither team used its starters much beyond that point, and the only other scores for the Colts came on a pair of field goals by Mike Vanderjagt.
"Obviously, you have different guys in there who haven't played together, sometimes that can disrupt the timing a little bit," Manning said. "Those are the things you want to learn from.
"The passing game, the time I was in, everybody looked pretty sharp. We didn't run as well as we would have liked and had some mental mistakes, some penalties that hurt us at the end of the game. You never like to lose, but the key thing is to look at film, study our mistakes and come back and play better."
Five of Manning's six completions were to Harrison, four on the Colts' scoring drive that started late in the first quarter after a 21-yard field goal by the Falcons' Morten Andersen.
Passes of 26, 17 and 7 yards to Harrison took Indianapolis to the Atlanta 24, and an offside penalty on the Falcons and a 4-yard run by Edgerrin James took them to the 15 as the quarter ended. After a pass interference penalty on Henri Crockett put the Colts at the 10, Manning completed a pass of 6 yards to Marcus Pollard to set up the 4-yarder to Harrison for a 7-3 lead.
Atlanta had to punt on its next possession, but the ball bounced off Macklin and was recovered for the Falcons by Bob Christian at the Indianapolis 25. Kanell, who replaced starter Chris Chandler after the first Atlanta series, passed 7 yards to Jammi German and three plays later hit Kozlowski for the first touchdown.
Rookie Doug Johnson took over at quarterback at the start of the third quarter and completed passes of 23 and 19 yards to Finneran before rookie Jake Arians kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 13-7 lead.
Vanderjagt, who last year led the NFL in scoring and made his last 26 field goal attempts, hit a 42-yarder late in the third quarter and tied the game 13-13 with a 44-yard field goal early in the final period.
Kanell returned at quarterback after Vanderjagt's second field goal. Rookie Maurice Smith rushed four times, including 34 yards to the Indianapolis 26. Then, on third-and-10, Austin was called for a late hit on an incomplete pass, moving the Falcons half the distance to the goal. Kanell passed to Finneran two plays later for the winning score.
"I don't mind losing if they beat you, but if you give up something like that, that bothers me," Colts coach Jim Mora said. "Our team played hard but we had way too many mistakes, even for a first preseason game, even for playing a lot of young players. ... One was that critical late hit that was totally uncalled for on our part. You can't do things like that and have a winning football team."