EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Always the showman, Mike Adams wanted an opportunity to give his large cheering section at MetLife Stadium something they could remember.
Adams, who grew up in Paterson, N.J., which is just 12 miles from East Rutherford, N.J., and MetLife Stadium, had plenty of family and friends in attendance to watch his Indianapolis Colts take on the hometown New York Jets on Monday Night Football, and with 30 seconds left in the third quarter — and the Colts already ahead, 34-3 — Adams got his opportunity to shine.
On 2nd and 3 from the New York 27-yard line, Jets quarterback Bryce Petty — in as a replacement for starter Ryan Fitzpatrick — lined up in the shotgun and fired a pass deep down the middle of the field, which was intended for wide receiver Robby Anderson.
Instead, the ball ended up in the hands of Adams, who had what looked like a clear path to the end zone before he was tripped up just six yards away from paydirt.
"I saw the end zone, but too bad I got (caught) short," Adams said after the game, smiling. "I got caught short. But I definitely saw that end zone."
The play was Adams' first pick of the season, after the 13-year veteran out of Delaware had nabbed a combined 10 interceptions the past two seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors both years.
Most importantly, however, the play continued to open up the floodgates for the Colts' secondary, which came into the game with just three interceptions all season, tied for last in the league.?
Combined with Darius Butler's second-quarter interception of Fitzpatrick, as well as Darryl Morris' interception late in the fourth quarter, the Colts exited MetLife Stadium with twice as many interceptions as it came in with — as well as a 41-10 victory.
"It was great to see, you know? Because we've been in a huge drought, we've talked about it, and those guys get frustrated, especially when you're sitting there with the record that you have," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "But they're disappointed, not discouraged, and they keep working. And it's really just a matter of doing your job and playing hard and trusting yourself and trusting the call and trusting the man next to you, and just being in the right spot when the play shows up."
The Colts' defense, as a whole, seemed to be in the right spot for most of Monday's game. Indianapolis (6-6) held New York (3-9) to 0-of-5 on third downs in the first half, and 3-of-11 (27 percent) in the game, tying for the second lowest mark for a Colts' opponent this season.
Not only did the defense finish with three interceptions for the first time since last season's victory against the Atlanta Falcons, but the Colts on Monday were solid against the run, too, holding the Jets to just 36 net rushing yards, the lowest rushing total for an opponent this season, and the lowest allowed by the Colts since Nov. 8, 2015, against the Denver Broncos (35 yards).
"We knew we had to step our game up," Adams said. "his rollercoaster ride that we've been on all year, it's time to straighten up. It's December football; it's playoff football. So we had to step it up and get off that rollercoaster."
The Colts defense also held an opponent to less than 20 points for the first time all season. Given the way the offense, defense and special teams clicked on Monday, Pagano likes where his team is at as it tries to continue fighting for a potential playoff spot.
"I think you get in these situations and you're desperate for a win, you're desperate to make a play and you stop trusting calls and trusting yourself and pressing and trying to do too much," Pagano said. "And I think our guys went out and just did a great job of executing the plan. We had 11 guys all on the same page just doing their job and just telling them to play hard, we don't care who makes (the play), just be where you're supposed to be when the play shows up and I think our guys did a nice job of that tonight."
For Adams and the Colts secondary specifically, "it felt great to get that (interception) monkey off that back."
"Now I know they're going to start coming in bunches, so it's time to get some more," he said.
Starting that trend in front of family and friends, however, couldn't have been sweeter.
"Yep, and they're all right there, you know what I mean?" Adams said, pointing to his cheering section in the MetLife Stadium seats. "So I'm glad I got to see my fam, all my peoples, and, you know, I'm just glad to get a win."
Check out this video on Mike Adams and his upbringing in Paterson, N.J.: