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Colts Run Defense, With Arthur Jones Back, Hoping To Make Amends Against Patriots Run Defense

Intro: The Colts run defense on Sunday will be a major area of focus in deciding who will move on to Super Bowl XLIX. Why are the Colts confident in their improved run defense this weekend?





INDIANAPOLIS – It's a game the Colts wish they could forget from 2014.

Under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, the Colts run defense was gashed for 201 yards from an unknown back in New England's Jonas Gray.

When the Colts returned to work that next Monday, they popped in the film and made a vow that what they were witnessing on the screen could not happen again.

"All it did was make you get back inside this building a little bit earlier, made you get in the training room earlier, made you get in the weight room earlier, want to work harder," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said.

Perhaps the greatest motivational factor from that 42-20 Week 11 loss was the fact that the Colts were working on that following a Monday.

A similar performance this weekend against the Patriots and the Colts know that next Monday would mean the start of their offseason.

"It never made any of us put any of our heads down because we had another week," Francois adds, talking about the Colts regular season loss to the Patriots.

"This time we don't have another week. Next week's not guaranteed. The only way you're guaranteed to get that next week, you must stop that run game. I understand they have a great history from last year and this year of running that ball. Our biggest challenge is stopping the run."

In the Colts last two meetings with the Patriots, a committed New England ground game has piled up 480 rushing yards.

Back in Week 11, New England employed an extra tackle on 38 of their 77 offensive snaps.

That jumbo package might have to adjust this week with Patriots starting center Bryan Stork in question due to a knee injury he suffered in New England's Divisional win over the Ravens.

No matter the health of Stork or even the status Gray (he was inactive against the Ravens and has seen his role severely diminish since Week 11), the Colts know the run game is coming.

"The numbers speak for themselves, and if we don't get that fixed and they're able to run the ball the way that they've run it the last couple meetings, then we're going to have a long, hard day," Chuck Pagano said on Wednesday.

"But having said that, I think our guys are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now. Talking about it is one thing, but we've got to go up there and we've got to do the job and stop the run."

Part of Pagano's belief in a vastly improved run defense this weekend is having a healthy Arthur Jones in the interior of the Colts defensive line.

The 335-pound Jones missed the regular season meeting with the Patriots, but has played in every game since.

In that stretch, the Colts have held the likes of Arian Foster, DeMarco Murray and Jeremy Hill substantially below their season averages.

"Having a healthy Art Jones, makes our defense that much better," defensive end Cory Redding said on Wednesday.

"He commands double teams. He just loves football. When you have a guy in the trenches that loves eating up double teams, demands it, and if you block him one-on-one, he's going to bull-rush to the quarterback or either run down the line and make tackles. It just makes our defensive line so much better. Having him, Art, in the lineup is huge for us."

When the Colts coveted Jones this offseason, the month of January was the time of year Pagano had in mind.

The Colts head coach always talks about the importance of running the football and stopping the opponent's ground game in the postseason.

Come Sunday, the Colts hope their strength in the trenches will pave the way to an AFC Championship Title.

"We're playing better run defense now than we ever have, so that's a positive," Pagano said.

"We've got to prepare the same way we prepared last week. We've got to do a better job because if we're not able to stop the run, we're not going to have a chance."

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