Colts Defense Beats Offense, 52-24, in Blue-and-White Scrimmage
ANDERSON, Ind. – All week, Jim Caldwell liked what he saw from the Colts' defense.
He liked it Saturday, too.
Because on Saturday morning, it was the Colts' defense that made big plays, and turned those big plays into points – scrimmage-rule points and real points, too – with the result being a big day for the Colts' defense on the final day of the first week of 2010 Colts Training Camp.
With Gary Brackett returning an interception for a touchdown early, and rookie safety Mike Newton intercepting three passes thereafter, the Colts' defense beat the offense, 52-24, Saturday morning in the Blue-and-White scrimmage – the traditional end to the first week of Colts' training camp.
The scrimmage began with the score tied, 21-21.
"It certainly wasn't 100 percent," Caldwell, entering his second season as the Colts' head coach, said Saturday morning. "We had a lot of good things, but we had a lot of things we need to work on as well. That's kind of why you do it. You go through that exercise and get a sense of the flow and the game.
"You kind of work on some things. Maybe some things will pop up that you haven't anticipated. We had a little substitution error there toward the end of our substitution period.
"Those little things make a difference."
Brackett, the Colts' middle linebacker and defensive captain, stepped in front of a short pass from four-time National Football League Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning on the scrimmage's first series, intercepting the pass and returning it 52 yards for a touchdown.
Brackett's return for a touchdown gave the defense seven points, and under the Colts' scoring system for the scrimmage, each of Newton's interceptions also gave the defense seven points.
"I think we did good," Brackett said. "We have to go back and look at film. It's funny. It's never as good as you think when you watch film, and for the offense's part, it's never as bad. Those guys had a couple of long drives. We made some plays on some tipped balls.
"Mike did a great job on some his opunities, I think overall we both got better out there."
The defense also got three points on a late fumble. The offense's points came on a 28-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri late in the first half.
"The defense has played well," Caldwell said. "They've been certainly moving to the ball, running extremely well. They've been doing a lot of things well the entire camp. The offense is doing well also. It's been one of those things that have been up and down and our consistency level is improving. We just have a lot of work to do.
"Overall, I think we're making good progress. I think it's been a very fine week. We'll take a look at the film and try to get a gauge. The film is usually a better way to assess things."
Manning completed 8 of 18 passes unofficially for 111 yards, while backup quarterback Curtis Painter completed seven of 13 passes for 88 yards and three interceptions. First-year wide receiver Taj Smith caught four passes for 53 yards, with four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne catching three passes for 36 yards and rookie tight end Brody Eldridge catching two passes for 18 yards.
The defense intercepted the offense on four of the first five possessions, with Newton ending drives with interceptions on three of four possessions. Two of Newton's interceptions came off deflections.
"I couldn't get it to the house, but I'll take three," Newton said. "It's good it happened in a scrimmage. I'll take the performance. It felt good. It helped the defense in some critical situations. We got turnovers. That was the key. Coach always said, 'Get turnovers.' That's what we were able to do."
Said Brackett, "He got the hat trick. I'm very proud of him."
Asked if a "pick-six" or three interceptions were the better day, Brackett chose the latter.
"I'll go with the hat trick," he said. "You can't beat that. He was in the right place at the right time, and the best thing about it is he took advantage of the opportunities and came up with the big plays.
"He took advantage of opportunities. I'm proud of him. You can't beat a hat trick on your first time out there. Good job for him."
Said Caldwell of Newton, a rookie free agent from Buffalo, "He's one of those guys who has a knack for showing up. He was that way in college as well and certainly was opportunistic. He proved to be that way today as well."