INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts recorded their 13th double-digit win season in the last 15 years thanks to a 23-7 victory on Sunday. Today's news looks at the opportune Colts defense, the importance of Sunday's win and what the Chiefs are thinking.
Take a look below at the top pieces fromMonday, December 23rd.**Colts Insider: Defense dances and fist-pumps its way to 23-7 victory over K.C.**By: Stephen Holder, Indy Star
Holder looks at the Colts defense playing some of its best football of 2013 in the last two weeks.
Even before the start of this season, the biggest question facing the Colts was whether the defense had made a marked improvement from last season. The numbers say the improvement has been marginal. The Colts allowed 374.2 yards per game in 2012 and 357.5 this season. But the difference is more obvious than you think.
You saw it Sunday in the passion the defense played with, led by aging but effective safety Antoine Bethea's big hits. You saw it with a group-effort pass rush, with the Colts (10-5) getting four sacks from five different players, none of whom were named Robert Mathis. You saw it in the four turnovers the Colts forced, including linebacker Jerrell Freeman's two interceptions.
Kansas City finished with 287 yards but 119 came in the fourth quarter, by which point the Colts had dropped into softer and deeper coverages to prevent big plays. The Chiefs were 1-of-8 on third down (13 percent), the best third-down performance of the season for Indianapolis.
**Colts deliver a much-needed message**By: Mike Wells, AFC South Blog
For the fourth time in 2013, the Colts knocked off a double digit win team.
"Coming to a place like this ... it's hard to win at Arrowhead ... tough team, playoff team, it's a great team," Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. "To come get a victory on the road, get that confidence, showing ourselves and the rest of the world that we can go on the road because we're probably going to have to go on the road in the playoffs [at some point]."
Chalk Kansas City up alongside San Francisco, Seattle and Denver as playoff teams that the Colts have beaten this season.
But what happened on Sunday was something that hadn't since Indianapolis beat the 49ers in Week 3. The Colts put on an all-around performance, the type that says they won't be an easy out in the playoffs.
Coach Chuck Pagano could have passed out game balls to almost every player in the locker room because almost all of them did something to contribute on offense, defense and special teams at some point.
The offensive line -- the seventh different starting group of the season -- gave up only one sack and helped the Colts rush for 135 yards. The defense made a Chiefs team that averaged 44 points in the four games prior look ordinary. Even receiver-turned-special-teams player Darrius Heyward-Bey had a presence.
"This team in a hostile environment with the elements as they were, it speaks to the character of our football team, of our players," Pagano said. "They stick to the process and stay focused on that process. That means not getting ahead of ourselves, staying humble, staying grounded."
**Chiefs don't feel loss will have impact on potential playoff rematch with Colts**By: Terez A. Paylor, Indy Star
If the playoffs started today, then the Colts and Chiefs would matchup in the first round with the only difference being a home game for Indianapolis.
"First off, hats off to them," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "They came in, had a gameplan and they executed. They beat us. No excuses. If we're going to go all the way, which we plan to, we can't ever play like this. There is no excuse; we have to get a lot better."
The Chiefs, who dropped to 11-4, effectively saw their chances of earning the top seed disappear with the loss because Denver (12-3) owns the tiebreaker with one game to play. That was disappointing enough, but perhaps most disconcerting is the ease with which they went down — at home, no less — against a team they could very well see again in two weeks.
Two interceptions. Two fumbles. Penalties. Blown coverages. It all added up to an unacceptable result.
"We gotta look in the mirror and we gotta decide what kind of team we want to be moving forward," said Dunta Robinson, who finished with four tackles and two passes breakups. "Yeah, OK. You dominate Oakland. Yeah, you dominate the Redskins. But what are we going to do when we face other powerhouses? We're a much better team than we showed today."