Manning outdone by Kitna

SEATTLE (AP) — Watching Peyton Manning and Jon Kitna, it was hard to tell who was the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL draft.
All Archie Manning’s tutoring and that extra year at Tennessee couldn’t get Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts past the Seattle Seahawks and Kitna in his pro debut.
After his first pass, a 48-yard touchdown strike to Marvin Harrison on his first series, Manning looked like an ordinary NFL rookie. There was a fumble that teammate Tony Mandarich recovered and an interception to end a series. In Manning’s other four series, it was three-and-out.
If you didn’t know about Manning’s six-year contract that could be worth almost $48 million, you would have thought Kitna — not Manning, the top selection in the draft — was the high-priced quarterback.
“I know from experience that the pace of the game shocks you,” said Kitna, whose Seahawks beat Manning and the Colts 24-21 Saturday night.
“He’ll learn from his mistakes and he’ll play better,” Colts coach Jim Mora said.
Manning admitted: “I need to play a little better. We didn’t move the ball very well.”
At halftime, when Manning’s playing time was over, the Colts trailed 24-7. The Colts scored two touchdowns against Seattle’s reserves in the second half, when Seattle’s No. 1 defense was off the field.
“I didn’t know how he would respond,” Mora said of Manning. “But I know Peyton is a special guy who will be a special player in this league.”
It might take some time, though. Against Seattle, Manning was 8-for-15 for 113 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He looked confused at times. The NFL isn’t the Southeastern Conference. His father, Archie, a former NFL quarterback, told him that and now he’s finding that out for himself.
Kitna, a third-year former free agent from Central Washington, is earning the league minimum of $216,000. He was 9-for-13 for 92 yards with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Pritchard and an interception. More importantly, he moved the Seahawks’ offense impressively.
“He just needs to play and play,” Mora said of Manning, who was given an $11.6 million signing bonus by the Colts. “He can only do so much right now.”
Manning’s touchdown pass was a thing of beauty. On his fifth play — after four handoffs to Marshall Faulk — he hit Harrison at the Seahawks’ 38 and Harrison zipped past the secondary into the end zone.
It looked so easy. Of course, Harrison’s speed can make a quarterback look good.
“Usually when you get Marvin Harrison the ball, good things are going to happen,” Manning said.
Except for a 36-yard completion to rookie Jerome Pathon in the second quarter, good things didn’t happen for Manning after his TD pass.
He was intercepted by cornerback Fred Thomas in the second quarter before being replaced by Kelly Holcomb. On the first play of the second quarter, Manning fumbled without being hit, but the ball was recovered by Mandarich.
“That was a rare, freak play,” Manning said of the fumble. “The ball just slipped out of my hand.”
Manning was facing an improved Seahawks’ defense featuring Chad Brown and Cortez Kennedy that could be the impetus for the Seahawks reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1988. New owner Paul Allen has spent lavishly in a bid to revive pro football in Seattle and it showed. The Seahawks are 2-0 in the exhibition season.
“It’s good to play against players like that,” Manning said. “They can only help you get better.”
Seattle’s offense wasn’t bad, either. Despite being without Warren Moon, their starting quarterback who is holding out of training camp in a contract dispute, the Seahawks’ No. 1 offense was impressive.
Coach Dennis Erickson has called Kitna his quarterback of the future. With Moon, 41, missing, Kitna appears to have moved ahead of veteran John Friesz and ready to push Moon for playing time when he returns.
“Should I be the starter? Do I feel I should be? I don’t think that’s up to me,” Kitna said.