INDIANAPOLIS --- The Colts heard all week about the Bengals revamped rushing offense and Jeremy Hill being the best running back over the past month in the NFL. Then they shut Cincinnati's red hot rushing attack down in a 26-10 win Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium to move onto the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
Since the Colts defense allowed 246 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns to the Patriots week 11, here is what Indianapolis has done:
Yards Per Carry of Opposing Running Backs vs. the Colts
Week 12, Jacksonville: 3.1
Week 13, Washington: 4.0
Week 14, Cleveland: 3.7
Week 15, Houston: 3.7
Week 16, Dallas: 2.7
Week 17, Tennessee: 3.5
(1st half only, after many starters pulled in 2nd half)
Wild Card, Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard: 3.3
This stretch coincided with the return of Art Jones week 12 on the defensive after a high ankle sprain.
"Wow," said Jones, when he was shown the above table. "Absolutely, that's great. We're just playing hard. We're trusting one another, embracing the grind daily."
"He's always been a run stopper, a big play guy in the middle" said defensive end Cory Redding, when asked how much Jones is the reason for the improved run defense since the New England game. "He's very tough against double teams. That's the reason we went out and got him in the offseason."
The Colts defensive front embraced that grind Sunday against Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill who had averaged more than 130 yards per game on the ground in his past three games to close out the regular season and more than 5 yards per carry over his last nine games. Sunday? 13 carries for 47 yards (3.6 ypc).
"We just pride ourselves on stopping the run here, man," said nose tackle Josh Chapman. "We have a great defense when we do that."
"Attitude. By any means, you have to make that play," said defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois when asked what's changed since the Patriots game. "By any means you have to get off that block. By any means you need to shed that man. Up front we did just that. Back end? DBs did a tremendous job."
One of those DBs, safety Mike Adams, didn't mince words when talking about the fallout from the Patriots game in the Colts rush defense.
"(The Patriots) embarrassed us. Let's be frank," said Adams after the game Sunday. "They had 200 yards on us. That doesn't sit right with any defense, any defense. We knew going into any other game teams were going to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. So, we knew we got to stop that runner and make teams one-dimensional. That's what we've been doing. We just have to keep that going."
"It was up to us to look at ourselves in the mirror (after the Patriots game) and say we can do better as individuals," said Redding.
And in a week that will focus heavily on the two quarterbacks that will be throwing the ball in Denver, perhaps the coverage on the Colts defense should focus on their ability lately to stop the run. After all, the Broncos have relied more heavily on their running back C.J. Anderson of late.
Anderson has averaged more than 23 carries per game for 4.6 yards per carry in the 6 games since Denver's 22-7 week 11 loss at St. Louis. He has 8 rushing touchdowns over that span.
In just the past four games alone, Anderson has 7 touchdowns. By comparison, Peyton Manning has just three touchdowns and six interceptions over the past 4 games.
So when everyone is talking about Luck vs. Manning this week, don't forget about Anderson vs. the Colts front seven.