Colts Daily Headlines: December 16th Edition

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts assured their 13th winning season in 15 years with Sunday's 25-3 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. Today's news looks at the Colts fast start on Sunday, the "Next Man Up" version with Griff Whalen and Robert Mathis becoming the Colts sack king.

Take a look below at the top pieces fromMonday, December 16th.Colts' fast start leads to easy 25-3 victory over TexansBy: Stephen Holder, Indy Star

It was the start the Colts had been searching for since Oct. 20.

"It makes a world of difference to start off like that," quarterback Andrew Luck said.

And the Colts looked like a wholly different team in the early going, trying out an aggressive, up-tempo offensive approach that looked quite good on them. They lined up in the shotgun formation, spread the field and didn't huddle. And as they moved the ball down the field with relative ease, the Colts were barely recognizable.

Eleven plays, 80 yards and 5½minutes of methodical, chain-moving offense. Receiver Griff Whalen, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday to replace injured LaVon Brazill (foot), capped it with a 14-yard touchdown catch on a skinny post route, Luck delivering the ball with surgical precision.

"It was nice to get into a rhythm," left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. "It was clicking. We were running the offense the way it was supposed to be run. If you put stuff together back-to-back-to-back, you start getting into a pace where the defense can't sub and you start to wear them down."

Andrew Luck sprinted full speed to greet his college teammate Griff Whalen after the former practice squader scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday.

"No, not surprised," Luck said when asked about Griff Whalen's contributions to the Colts' 25-3 dismantling of the Houston Texans Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. "Great job by Griff.

"Touchdown catch, lot of big catches, punt return."

Whalen's bottom line made an impact: four catches for 45 yards and a 14-yard first-quarter touchdown that ignited the blowout, and a 51-yard punt return.

"That's what he does every day in practice," Fleener said. "I've come to kind of expect that."

Whalen, Fleener and Luck routinely collaborated on highlights while teammates at Stanford. Coordinator Pep Hamilton drew up the plays for the Cardinal, and that trio put them in motion.

It was yet another accolade for Robert Mathis on Sunday.

Mathis became the team's all-time leader for sacks in a single season (16.5) and career (108) when he beat Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown for a sack of quarterback Case Keenum in the third quarter of the Colts' 25-3 victory. It was only fitting that Mathis set the record with one of his trademark strip sacks.

"I enjoyed it to the utmost," Mathis said. "Never take it for granted because it is such an accomplishment. It's just still unbelievable. Just happy to have it."

Mathis needed a bounce-back game after the Cincinnati Bengals shut him down on Dec. 8. It took almost three quarters, but Mathis is too good of a player not to get involved after the Colts' defense was shutting Houston's offense down and already had intercepted two Case Keenum passes in the first half.

The Texans had the ball at their own 7-yard line when Brown kept Mathis away from Keenum for three seconds, but the Colts linebacker wasn't going to be stopped. Mathis got by Brown on the fourth second and ripped the ball out of Keenum's hands. Brown fell on the ball in the end zone. Mathis was given the ball and then acknowledged the crowd for giving him an ovation.

"Duane Brown is a very good O-tackle," Mathis said. "He's a very strong guy. Just had to stay with it and saw the quarterback roll out and was able to get to him. That was about it. Just make a play for the team."

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