*VINATIERI'S PERFECT DAY: *All of the Colts scoring in the first half against Cleveland on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium came off the right foot of kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Vinatieri got things started on the first drive of the game as he connected on a 39-yarder give the Colts an early 3-0 lead.
Finishing off a 10-play 78-yard drive was Vinatieri with his second field goal of the game. The 29-yarder with 14:15 remaining in the second quarter padded the Colts lead to 6-0.
The final points of the first half for the Colts came on Vinatieri's 52-yard field goal that ended another 10-play drive. The 52-yard field goal was the longest Vinatieri has made since he hit one from the same distance against New England on November 2, 2008.
After safety Antoine Bethea recovered a Peyton Hillis fumble on the first drive of the second half, Vinatieri connected on 36-yard field goal to cut the Browns lead to 14-12. That field goal marked the 23rd consecutive made attempt for Vinatieri at Lucas Oil Stadium. The streak dates back to the 2009 season opener.
The four field goals for Vinatieri was one short of a career high, but he wishes it had been in a winning effort.
"Obviously, you always want points on the board when you step out there," Vinatieri said. "It'd be nice if those could contribute to a win instead of a loss, but it was nice to get out there and get a few attempts."
The 0-2 start for the Colts is not something they are accustomed to, but the oldest player in the locker room is able to contribute with talent, perspective and resolve.
"There's still a ton of football left," Vinatieri said. "Nobody is in the playoffs and nobody's out of it, so we're going one day at a time. We're going to go in Monday and see what we did, watch the film and see what we can improve on. We're just going to take it one day at a time. There's a lot of football still to be played and we're not giving up.
As for his mindset when he steps on the field, Vinatieri shows the veteran nature he shares with his teammates.
"I think if you don't put yourself accountable every single time you step on the field to do the best you can, you're taking the wrong approach," said Vinatieri. "It doesn't matter what the offense does, the defense does or special teams. When we go out there, we have to perform every single time we step out there, and it's the same way for all three phases."
*ROOKIES MAKING STRIDES: *For the Indianapolis Colts, finding quality draft picks past the first few rounds has always been something on which they have thrived. The 2011 NFL Draft looks to be following in the same pattern with third-round pick Drake Nevis and fourth-round pick Delone Carter providing some bright spots for the Colts on Sunday.
Entering the backfield on the team's third offensive possession, Carter rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries Sunday afternoon against Cleveland. It was the second straight week that the Colts running backs averaged four yards per attempt.
On Carter's first carry Sunday he ran 18 yards off the left side for a Colts first down. Carter would get five more carries on the drive that eventually led to Vinatieri's second field goal of the afternoon. The duo of Joseph Addai and Carter combined for 25 carries and 110 yards, and they know that the running game is vital with a new quarterback.
"We want to take as much pressure off of him (Collins) as we can and open some throwing lanes up for him," Carter said.
When defensive tackle Fili Moala left Sunday's game with an ankle injury, Nevis filled the role with six tackles that were the most from any defensive lineman.
The LSU product also had a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry on Colt McCoy. Nevis' play helped the Colts to hold Peyton Hillis to only three and a half yards per attempt.
With the Colts defense trying to get the ball back during the fourth quarter, it was Nevis who stopped Owen Marecic on a third-and-one with 6:42 remaining allowing the offense another chance.
Following in a long line of successful LSU defensive lineman, Nevis' play continues to be a bright spot early in his professional career.
*BETHEA LEADS DEFENSE: *Down 14-9 and having to kick the ball off to start the second half, it was imperative the Colts defense make a stand on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Pro Bowl Safety Antoine Bethea did just that by recovering a Peyton Hillis fumble for the lone turnover on the day forced by the Colts.
On a first-and-10 from the Colts 44-yard line, Hillis ran left for two yards before linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson combined on the stop and jarred the ball loose from the punishing back.
Bethea fell on the football and gave the offense its first possession of the second half. The possession turned into another Vinatieri field goal and brought the score to 14-12.
"Our main thing is to get turnovers and get our offense back on the field," Bethea said. "The crowd got into it a little bit. I think our biggest thing is just try and create turnovers."
The fumble recovery was the third of Bethea's career and was part of a big afternoon for the sixth-year pro. He also had eight tackles, one for a loss and had a crucial pass deflection while covering Mohamed Massaquoi to end the Browns next series.