The Colts defense set the tone early, the running game improves and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis continue to sack the quarterback.





With one hit, on the first Giants offensive play, Colts safety Antoine Bethea set the toe for the entire defense against the Giants in Sunday night's 38-14 Colts victory.

On the Giants' first play from scrimmage, Bethea came up to support the run on a reverse and put a bone-jarring hit on wide receiver Mario Manningham.

On the Giants' second play, Colts defensive lineman Fili Moala wrapped up running back Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield for a two-yard loss.

And on third down, defensive end Robert Mathis rushed Giants quarterback Eli Manning, forcing an incomplete pass.

"We just wanted to come out and set the tone," Bethea said. "That is kind of our motto on defense. Just run to the ball, run to the rock and whoever gets there first let it be known that we are going to be here all night."

And all night the defense wreaked havoc on the Giants offense, causing turnovers and even scoring a touchdown.

After a Dwight Freeney sack and strip of Eli Manning on the Giants' second drive of the second half, Moala scooped up the ball and scored from one yard out.

"It feels good to be the lucky recipient of a gift, I guess," Moala said. "I just happened to be the guy that picked it up and I 'm grateful, grateful to be here and grateful to be contributing to this team. Our goal was to get in here and make them one-dimensional, and luckily we did well against the run and were able to get Freeney and Mathis going. It was a great victory all around."

With 5:00 remaining in the first half, New York only had compiled 26 yards of total offense.

In the first half, Indianapolis' defense held Eli Manning to 3-of-8 passing for 17 yards while only giving up 58 yards on the ground.

Colts defensive back Jerraud Powers intercepted Manning after Bethea and Melvin Bullitt broke up a pass intended for Steve Smith downfield. Mathis and Freeney combined to force three fumbles—the defense recovered two—and each had two sacks.

"We took what happened last week to heart," Bethea said. "Everybody played as one, we played for each other tonight. I think we can build on this and we have to."

Colts running backs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown rushed for a combined 23 first-half carries Sunday night—the most rushing attempts by the Colts in the first half since at least 1991—and the duo accumulated 124 yards for a 5.4-yard average.

During the first two quarters, Addai had 13 carries for 80 yards while Brown had 10 rushing attempts for 44 yards and a score.

Addai finished with 92 yards on 20 carries for a 4.6-yard average.

Brown had a career-best night in both carries and yards, going for 69 yards on 16 touches. He also caught the ball once for 19 yards.

"The great passing attack we have helped set up the run today," Brown said. "When your number is called, you just have to make the most of every opportunity. It was a big team win. It's an easy day for a running back when the offensive line does that well."

Addai agreed.

"The offensive line came together and did what they had to do," Addai said. "They did a good job opening holes for me and Donald both."

Offensive tackle Ryan Diem acknowledged that the line wanted to perform better and get the ground game churning after rushing for 44 yards on 10 attempts in the season opener at Houston.

"All week we knew we had to play better because last week was a big disappointment for us," Diem said "We came out this week, played better and things turned around. A little more of a balanced attack is always helpful. As an offensive lineman, of course, you want to run that ball, and I think we did it well today."

Brown opened up the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown run and had a long of 11 yards.

"We wanted to start strong and start fast and keep the pedal on," Brown said. "The offensive line did a phenomenal job, it was huge."

Addai had bursts of 16, 12, 12, and nine yards, all in the first half, and had two receptions for 21 yards.

"We saw (New York) come out and adjust in the second half and we adjusted, too," Addai said. "We got a chance to run the ball, and that is a good thing for me and Donald both. It is a confidence builder going into next week. It felt good to be able to run the ball today."

And while Addai fell short of gaining 100 yards for the eighth time in his career, the running back did not know, or even care, how close he was.

"Honestly, I didn't know where I was at until you just asked that question," Addai said. "I didn't know. My thing was just to have a positive game. That's really what I look for and we were able to do that."

Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis combined for four sacks and three forced fumbles on the night, creating havoc in the Giants' backfield.

"With our two defensive ends coming up the field, it does not give the quarterback that much time to sit back there, and then as a defensive back you can play more aggressive," Bethea said. "We've got the best defensive end tandem in the league."

Freeney's two sacks give him 87 in his nine-year career, and he forced his 37th and 38th career fumbles. His sacks made it his 21st career multiple-sack game, while it was his seventh multiple-fumble game.

Since 2002, Freeney's 38 forced fumbles are the most by any player in the NFL. Currently, Freeney trails only the Jets' Jason Taylor (88) for the most sacks in the NFL in that span.

During the third quarter, with the Giants backed deep into their own territory, Freeney came up with a sack-fumble that Moala recovered for a touchdown.

According to Freeney, it's all in a normal days work.

"They were down there and I knew they were going to take a chance," Freeney said. "They had to take some opportunities to get the ball down the field, and I did a good job of getting up the field and beating the tackle around the corner. We are programmed as defensive lineman, especially here, to not only get the sack, but to go for the trifecta. You get the sack, you cause the fumble and you get the touchdown, and that is what happened."

For Mathis, in his eighth season, he tallied two sacks and a forced fumble Sunday night. He ranks second behind Freeney with 36 forced fumbles since 2002, and Mathis' 32 sack-fumbles ranks first in the NFL during that span.

"First off, we had to stop the run and we had to come out with a stop-the-run mentality, and it set up other things," Mathis said. "We need that (Fili's touchdown). It was a big moral boost, and we were happy to get it and we'll just try to build on it."

-The win marked Manning's 132nd of his career, and his 132 wins with the Colts tie John Unitas for the highest number of victories by a player in Colts history.

-Manning's three TD passes marked his 61st career 3 -TD game.

-Manning's TD pass to receiver Reggie Wayne marked the duo's 63rd career TD connection, tying John Unitas and Raymond Berry for the 2nd-most TDs in club history by a QB-WR combination (112, Manning to Marvin Harrison). Manning and Wayne are now tied for the fifth-most TDs by a QB-WR duo in NFL history.

-QB-Peyton Manning and TE-Dallas Clark connected on their 43rd TD connection, tying Sonny Jurgensen and Jerry Smith for the 2nd-most TDs by a QB-TE duo in NFL history (45, Drew Bledsoe to Ben Coates).

-Manning's 50-yard TD pass to Clark marked his 51st career 50 -yard pass and his 32nd career 50 -yard TD passing. It marked Clark's fifth career 50 -yard catch and third 50 -yard TD reception.

-DT-Fili Moala's fumble recovery for a TD marked the Colts first fumble recovery for a TD since Robert Mathis' at Cleveland on 11/30/08.

-The Colts' 23 first-half rushes were the most in a first half by the club since at least 1991.

-The Colts' 124 first-half rushing yards were the 4th-most first-half rushing yards by the team in the same span (since at least 1991). – (161, vs. St. Louis 10/1/1995; 142, at Philadelphia 11/21/99; 131, vs. Philadelphia 11/26/06).

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