INDIANAPOLIS – Over 250 games will be played in the NFL this season and if history is any indicator, less than 10 of those contests will end with one team having a goose egg on the scoreboard.
Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium wasn't supposed to be one of those games.
Not with two of the NFL's best offenses facing off in a matchup that had January type hype around an October afternoon game.
But this isn't your typical Colts defense.
This is a unit that has taken some time to build under Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, but now is beginning to look like the monster those two had in mind back in 2012.
"We're just starting to get a glimpse of what we envisioned when we got together a couple years ago," Pagano, fresh off of giving the entire defense a game ball, said after the Colts fifth straight victory.
"Looks like that monster is starting to rear its head a little bit. We just have to stay humble, keep working and get better."
Ask around the Colts locker room and veteran defenders couldn't recall the last time they were even part of a shutout.
The "no fly zone" controllers of Vontae Davis and Greg Toler with 121 games of NFL experience? "No idea."
How about 11-year veteran Mike Adams?* "Maybe Pop Warner."*
And you Cory Redding, a man with 167 games of NFL experience? *"Maybe back in Detroit (2003-2007)." *No not even there, Cory.
But this is what Redding had in mind when he sat down with Pagano during the 2012 offseason.
The new head coach wanted the defensive mantra the two were a part of in Baltimore to be a staple of Colts teams.
"It's something Chuck dreamed about when he first got here," Redding, who recorded his third sack of the season, said after the shutout. "This is the kind of defense we are used to playing, in this system. These guys, they all bought in from day one, what a way to go out there and put a statement in the AFC."
"It's a new era, man. It's a new era."
That era was on full display on Sunday against a Bengals offense that came into Week Seven, second in the NFL in averaging 6.34 yards per play.
The Colts held them to 2.5 yards per play on Sunday, just eight first downs and put together another outstanding performance on third-down in allowing just a single conversion in 13 attempts.
Indianapolis got to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton three times in 38 pass attempts, after he had been sacked just twice in 151 attempts this season.
Giovnai Bernard, the electric Bengals running back, was held to 16 total yards on nine touches.
Only one of the Bengals 14 drives lasted more than 1:55 and Cincinnati didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter.
The Indianapolis defense has now allowed just four third-down conversions in 41 attempts over the last four weeks.
"We've got good players out there who are staying healthy, knock on wood. You got some corners that can play, cover and take guys away. The safety play has been good. They're playing good at all three levels," the defensive-minded Pagano said after the 27-0 win.
"We can play better. I know we can, and we will. They're bound and determined to be. We've always envisioned us to be a top-five, if not a top defense in the league. We've just got to keep working."
As Andrew Luck began his postgame presser on Sunday afternoon, many media members cleared out and headed to the open locker room.
It was no disrespect to Luck, who threw for his franchise-best fifth straight 300-yard game on Sunday, but defenders were waiting in that locker room and they were the stars of the afternoon.
"I've always thought it's the greatest team game in the world because you rely on different phases of the game," Luck said after the win.
"I'm just like a fan watching the game. I may as well be a fan when our defense is out there. I'm not sure what the calls are and everything, but they do a heck of a job and they certainly gave us a great lift today. Glad they got that shutout."
Photos from the week seven game against the Cincinnati Bengals