Colts Defense Wins Annual Blue-and-White Scrimmage, 45-31
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – As Antoine Bethea saw it, it obviously wasn't a real game.
The scoring system was a bit weighted to the defense, and Bethea – the Colts' Pro Bowl safety – said much more will be known in a few days.
Still, the Colts' defense played well on Saturday.
And that had Bethea and the Colts' defense feeling good after the unit beat the offense, 45-31, in the team's annual blue-and-white, offense-versus-defense game at Cook Stadium at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The game marked the end of the first week of 2009 Colts Training Camp.
"It was a mock game, and it's not similar to what it's going to be Friday," Bethea said, referring to the Colts' preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday.
"But you can learn a lot from the film, watching, and I think a lot of young guys can see how the intensity picks up when you get another color jersey out in front of you.
"It was fun today."
In a game that began tied – 14-14 – and in which the scoring system awarded one point to the defense for a sack, three for forcing a punt, one for forcing a three-and-out and seven for an interception, the Colts' defense took full advantage throughout, particularly in the first half.
"What it's for is really to kind of get a flow of the game," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "It gives our team an opunity to get a sense of how a game's going to go, particularly some of the young guys. Substitutions are a very important thing to go over and obviously, just the little things – keeping your poise in tough situations, concentration, etc. We get a lot of things done."
Rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers intercepted quarterback Peyton Manning in the first quarter, and the defense forced three first-half three-and-outs.
"The scoring system is a bit weighted, some would say, in favor of the defense, but nevertheless, it's just to add a little emphasis to some big mistakes and big plays that are made that usually generate some points," Caldwell said. "Maybe not as many points as we give them, but it certainly is something that's going to get their attention."
The defense started strong Saturday, getting eight early points by forcing the offense to punt on three downs on consecutive possessions. The defense then scored seven points when Powers intercepted a long pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
"We had a good showing today, but we can continue to improve," Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett said. "One of the things we wanted to do was obviously stop the run. I think we did a pretty good job doing that today. We got off the field on third down. That was another area today where we were successful."
The defense scored four more points by forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
That made it 33-14, and two more stops and a sack by safety Melvin Bullitt on reserve quarterback Curtis Painter, the defense pushed it to 42-14 midway through the second period.
"They were playing well," Caldwell said of the defense. "They were pretty sharp today, and I think we did a pretty good job controlling the line of scrimmage. The most important thing for us is obviously stopping the run. That's the key focus. That's what we're looking for."
The first-team offense got its first extended drive late in the second period, with Manning completing passes to Wayne (eight yards), rookie wide receiver Austin Collie (six yards) and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (10 yards) to push to the defense's 23-yard line.
A 19-yard pass from Manning to Wayne turned 2nd-and-10 into 1st-and-goal at the 4, and two plays later, Manning threw to Wayne for a 2-yard touchdown.
That made it 42-21, defense, with 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The offense than made it 42-24 with a 50-yard field goal by Shane Andrus. That came after a late drive led by Painter, who also led a fourth-quarter drive on which he closed the scoring with a four-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Jamie Petrowski.
"We were able to get a lot of things installed and we covered a lot of different situations," Caldwell said. "I think we got a real good workload put in. We'll give them a little break this weekend. We'll tee it back up again on Monday and kick that thing back into high gear. . . .
"It's a process. This mock game gives you a sense of the game, but it's not an actual game itself. We'll start to get a little better feel when we're going against the opposition, particularly starting next Friday. We'll have a little better feel for where we are."