DENVER --- Where would you like to start with the Colts defense, after Indianapolis beat the Broncos 24-13 on the road to move on to the AFC Championship game?
Perhaps we could start with the run defense, after all the talk about Denver's red-hot running back C.J. Anderson. The Broncos rushed for only 88 yards, well below the Colts regular season average of 113 yards per game allowed on the ground.
Or we could talk about the job Indianapolis did on 3rd downs. The Broncos were just 4-of-16.
What will stand out most though is the job the Colts did against their former franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning. Manning threw for an inefficient 211 yards, completing just 56.5 percent of his passes (26-of-46). His 4.6 yards per attempt were well below his season average of 7.92 yards per attempt.
"Disguise, we tried to confuse him a little bit," said Colts safety Mike Adams, who went to the Super Bowl with Denver last season. "I guess it worked. We did everything we could. He's a great quarterback, but we did our thing."
Colts rookie rush linebacker Jonathan Newsome had a strip sack of Manning that set up a touchdown for the Colts in the 2nd quarter. That was one of 2 sacks Indianapolis had. They also registered 3 quarterback hits. Those numbers don't stand out at face value, but the pass coverage sure does. Cornerback Vontae Davis had 5 of the Colts 7 passes defensed, despite going to the locker room near the end of the 1st half with an injury. Davis returned and was his Pro Bowl self.
Veteran defensive lineman Cory Redding said the goal was to, "let (Manning) know we're there." The Colts did just that, holding Denver's offense to just 3 points in the second half. 13 points were the 2nd lowest total for the Broncos offense this season and well below their season average of 30.1 points per game (2nd in the NFL).
Denver's 288 yards of offense were also well below its season average of 402.9 yards per game, good enough for 4th in the NFL this season.
"That's unheard of to be able to do that to a quarterback like that," said defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois. "That's a first ballot Hall of Famer. And to be able to do that in his stadium, you can't find the words. All you can do is be happy."
The Colts will try to do it again to another first ballot Hall of Famer again next week in Tom Brady, with a trip to Super Bowl XLIX at stake.