INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday afternoon marked the return of a key part of the Colts' defense, a piece that had been missing since the beginning of the regular season.
After fracturing his foot in a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams in August, linebacker Pat Angerer returned to the lineup for his first appearance of the Colts' 2012 regular season.
The third-year player out of Iowa did not disappoint.
Angerer finished his first game back after the injury with three tackles and two quarterback hurries, along with a key read on a screen pass in the second half which forced a Browns punt.
"You don't realize how much you miss it until you can't do it anymore," Angerer said after the game. "I needed it. I feel like (the number of repetitions) was the perfect amount. You never know until the next couple of days, but I feel good right now."
Angerer's modest stat line from Sunday afternoon's 17-13 win over the Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium may not appear initially as crucial as it truly was.
With just more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Browns driving, Angerer put heavy pressure on quarterback Brandon Weeden. His pressure forced a hit on Weeden and an errant throw to bring up a third-and-long situation.
The very next play Angerer read a screen pass and blanketed Weeden's target out of the backfield, resulting in an incomplete pass.
"Of course, you know, it's good to have Pat back," safety Antoine Bethea said. "We have a great corps of linebackers with him, Kavell (Conner) and Jerrell (Freeman). Those guys do a great job. Pat just being our leading tackler last year, he knows how to get around the ball. He's a great player. We're just happy to have him back out there."
Trailing by just four points late in the fourth quarter, the Browns drove into Colts territory looking for a go-ahead touchdown. Facing a third-and-six from the Colts' 39, Angerer again put heavy pressure on Weeden to force what would set up a failed fourth down attempt.
Angerer's two quarterback hurries and presence in the Cleveland backfield contributed to the Colts' defensive effort, which surrendered an average of just 3.2-yards-per-rush – the team's lowest of the season.
Angerer quickly credited Colts' defensive line for allowing the linebackers to find the football.
"The line played tremendous, which allowed us linebackers to run free," he said. "They did such a tremendous job putting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run for us."
Browns starting running back Trent Richardson finished the day with just eight yards on eight carries.
Angerer felt the momentum generated Sunday afternoon by holding the Browns rushing attack to just 55 yards is reflective of the defense's capabilities as a whole.
"It just shows if we do our job, we can play with anyone and shows we'll be successful," he said. "We still have a ton of things to fix. At times we didn't play to well, but (we'll) just improve and continue to get better."