INDIANAPOLIS – A misstep in week one of preseason play was followed by many positive ones in week two as the Colts earned a 20-12 victory Sunday over the New York Giants.
The Colts rebounded from falling short in situational opportunities against the Bills by winning almost every one of those battles in gaining a bounce-back win.
Four first-half New York ventures into the red zone produced but nine points, including a fourth-down stop on the opening drive of the game.
After the Giants kicked a field goal on their second possession, the Colts responded with a touchdown drive to take a lead they never would relinquish.
Three plays later, cornerback Greg Toler in man coverage on third down picked off Eli Manning in New York territory to set up a 52-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to end a productive first quarter.
On the Colts' next possession, Andrew Luck took advantage of a facemask penalty on the Giants by hitting T.Y. Hilton on two 18-yard completions.
The first one was in tight coverage on third down when Luck lasered the ball to Hilton. The second one was another strike on third down for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
The Giants moved to the Colts' five on the next drive but a four-yard loss-tackle by Bjoern Werner helped stem the march, and New York had to settle for a field goal. The Giants ended the half with another field goal after the Colts defense stiffened again in the red zone.
Those were situations won by Indianapolis that helped lead to victory.
"Number one, we wanted to come in here and start fast," said Chuck Pagano. "We wanted to generate first downs. We wanted to move the ball. We wanted to get in the red zone offensively. We wanted to score touchdowns. We wanted to put points on the board, and we did that. We made big plays. Reggie had the circus catch. T.Y. was phenomenal."
Luck played 22 snaps and hit nine-of-13 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns for a rating of 133.7.
His scoring pass to Wayne hit New York cornerback Aaron Ross, but Wayne was able to tip the deflection to himself to convert the scoring play. On the drive, Luck connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey three times for 30 yards, while scrambling for 14 himself.
Hilton out-fought defenders on the second touchdown drive for his first 18-yard gain, then slipped behind the defense and stabbed both feet in as Indianapolis took a 17-3 lead 5:19 into the second quarter.
"He's a phenomenal athlete, a phenomenal receiver," said Luck. "He's so consistent in all his routes. He's done a heck of a job, as does Reggie. I thought Darrius Heyward-Bey had a great game tonight. It was good to (play) with those guys."
Entering the game wanting to have a blended offense, the Giants tried to take away the Colts' intent to run. The first touchdown drive was eight plays, with only rush coming from Luck.
"They brought the safety down in the box," said Donald Thomas. "From there we made some adjustments on the sideline and once we did that, we were fine. I think the emphasis for them was to stop our run game. That was part of their game plan tonight."
Said Luck, "They're a very stout front. They're a great team. It was nice for us to come out here…it was tough sledding. We did run effectively and converted a couple of first downs."
Matt Hasselbeck subbed for Luck and played into the second half before giving way to Chandler Harnish.
Eighty-eight of the Colts' 244 yards came on the ground, while the defense set a tone by the stops deep and by nailing New York quarterbacks six times.
Linebacker Caesar Rayford had two takedowns, as did defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Linebacker Erik Walden's first-half sack came one play after Indianapolis took a 10-3 lead and paved the way for the second touchdown march.
"The defense, those guys (performed)," said Pagano. "We finished I think seventh last year in the NFL in red zone defense. They've kind of picked up right where they left off.
"The guys feel very, very comfortable with the calls that are being made. The coaches are doing a great job with what their utilizing down there. Our guys are doing a great job."
A week after losing the key moments in a 24-point home loss, Indianapolis rebounded to win the situational moments that evened the club's record after two outings.
"Credit the coaches and the players," said Pagano. "They came back to work after the Buffalo game and put in a tough, hard week of work. We addressed the areas we needed to address.
"Credit the coaches and players. We're all extremely proud of the way they came in here and bounced back."
Pagano said tight end Coby Fleener hurt a knee. Fleener will have an MRI Monday, but Pagano said the injury did not appear serious. Linebacker Lawrence Sidbury will be evaluated for a shoulder injury and will have an MRI.