CARTER SHINES AGAIN –On a night when the Colts offense worked to find its rhythm, rookie running back Delone Carter provided some bright spots for the unit.
In the two previous weeks, Carter recorded his first career NFL start and scored his first NFL touchdown.
Running back Joseph Addai returned from a hamstring injury to start Sunday night's game against the Saints but the sixth-year pro left in the first quarter and Carter's role quickly expanded.
Carter saw his first action on the Colts' third series Sunday night and ripped off a 23-yard run on his initial carry.
On the next snap, Carter lost his first fumble in 299 attempts dating back to his senior season at Syracuse University.
Bouncing back from the miscue, the bulk of Carter's productivity Sunday evening came on the Colts' final drive of the first half.
The drive opened up with Carter running once again to the right side, this time breaking several tackles on a 42-yard run.
The offense would continue to drive inside the red zone until the drive was finished off by three more runs.
Running back Donald Brown carried the ball twice for nine yards setting the Colts up with a second-and-goal from the two-yard line.
On the first play back from the two-minute warning, Carter's number was called and he delivered with his second career NFL touchdown. The drive covered 80 yards in seven plays with Carter accounting for more than half of the yardage on the ground.
In the first half, Carter had six carries for 76 yards and finished the game with 8.9 yards per rush.
Brown also had a successful night with nine carries for 47 yards, which was good for 5.2 yards per carry. The Colts finished the night with 155 yards rushing and 6.7 yards per carry.
The production on the ground was even more impressive considering the Colts once again had to reshuffle their as offensive line Ryan Diem was sidelined with an injury. Quinn Ojinnaka made his second start in three weeks at right tackle.
Carter's 23- and 42-yard runs were two of the three longest of the season for the Colts. Brown added a 24-yard burst against the Saints.
GARCON AND PAINTER CONTINUE CONNECTION –Making his fourth consecutive start, quarterback Curtis Painter found the man he has connected with the most in the past month – wide receiver Pierre Garcon.
In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Colts chose Garcon in the sixth round. He was the 205th pick overall. One year later and four picks earlier, Painter was also chosen in the sixth round.
Turn the calendar three seasons later and Painter and Garcon have become a formidable duo for the Colts offense.
On the first play from scrimmage Sunday night, Painter once again looked deep for Garcon. Already this season the duo has combined on touchdowns covering 87, 59 and 67 yards. Garcon ran a deep patter in the middle of the field, and the pair narrowly missed a connection. The pass was knocked away at the last moment.
Garcon caught three of Painter's nine completions Sunday night and he and wide receiver Reggie Wayne are tied for the team lead with 30 receptions.
Entering week seven, Garcon was third in the AFC in receiving yards and leads the Colts with 503 yards receiving.
In Painter's four starts this season, Garcon has 18 receptions and 354 yards receiving. Three of his four touchdowns have been at least 57 yards.
THOMAS AND SIMS SEE SIGNIFICANT PLAYING TIME –The Indianapolis secondary started two young players at New Orleans. David Caldwell opened his fifth game at strong safety and Kevin Thomas made his NFL debut Sunday night against the Saints. Thomas started at left cornerback.
Thomas debuted against one of the premier passing attacks in New Orleans. His 10 tackles tied for second-most on the team.
Last season's third-round pick, Thomas missed all of 2010 with a knee injury and battled his way through training camp this season.
With Thomas seeing his first action, it made him the fifth defensive back that has made an NFL debut this season for the Colts. Thomas joined Caldwell, Terrence Johnson, Joe Lefeged and Chris Rucker to do so for Indianapolis in the first seven weeks of the season.
Having to play in coverage packages with facing quarterback Drew Brees, the door was open for linebacker Ernie Sims to see some extensive action Sunday night.
Sims has overcome some early season injuries and had five tackles on the evening. The Colts signed Sims during the 2011 training camp and after missing weeks two through four of the regular season due to injury, he has now recorded back-to-back five-tackle games.
Fellow training camp signees Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton also made an impact Sunday night, each registering their first career sacks as a member of the Colts.
The pair of defensive ends, both stand 6-6 and were former first-round draft picks. They have been rotating with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis through the first seven games of the season.
Due to Brees' ability to get the ball out very quick, the Saints offensive line came into Sunday night's game allowing fewer than two sacks a contest.