Colts' Defense Sets Tone, Posts First Road Shutout In Almost Three Decades

The Indianapolis Colts’ defense was the tone-setter in Sunday’s Week 13 victory over the Houston Texans, forcing turnovers on Houston’s first two possessions and earning the Colts’ first road shutout in 29 years.

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It had been 28 years, 11 months and 30 days — that's 347 total months, or 1,513 weeks — since the Indianapolis Colts had last pitched a shutout in a road game.

That was, until Sunday's Week 13 matchup against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

The Indy defense set the tone from the start, forcing turnovers on Houston's first two possessions and continuing to smother the Texans the rest of the way, as the Colts earned a 31-0 victory for their first road shutout since Dec. 6, 1992, against the New England Patriots.

In fact, the Texans' 141 total yards of offense were the sixth-fewest allowed by a Colts defense since the franchise moved to Indianapolis in 1984.

"Dominant defensive performance," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "The defense was unreal. I don't think they crossed the 50-yard line until a minute to go. That's an epic defensive performance from, really, start to finish, and that's what we talked about at halftime — as good as it was in the first half, it was just as important for us to finish the game like that, just for where we want to go, finishing.

Early on, Kenny Moore II made it clear to the Texans' offense that it was going to be tough sledding throughout the afternoon. In fact, on Houston's very first play of scrimmage, Moore II stepped in front of a Tyrod Taylor pass attempt along the sideline and showed off his impressive toe-drag-swag abilities to earn his career-best-tying fourth interception on the season.

Six plays later, running back Jonathan Taylor would punch it in on the ground from one yard out to give the Colts an early 7-0 lead.

But Moore II wasn't done. On the Texans' ensuing possession, Taylor found Pharaoh Brown for a short completion across the middle, but as the Indy defense rallied to the big tight end, Moore II snuck in to poke the ball loose, which was recovered by cornerback Xavier Rhodes at the Colts' 49-yard line.

Moore II's two early takeaways gives the Colts' defense a league-leading 29 on the season.

"Good work. Good work," Moore II said. "Coming into the game, we wanted to jump out pretty fast, and from there we just wanted to build momentum for the offense. So great team effort."

With the Colts' offense slowly but surely able to add points on their side of the scoreboard — particularly in the second half — the rest of the Sunday's game for Indy's defense was all about befuddling Taylor and backup quarterback Davis Mills.

With defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus throwing the kitchen sink at the Texans — utilizing several blitzes throughout the contest — the Texans would earn just nine first downs, converted just 3-of-12 third-down attempts, and had just 57 net yards passing in all.

The Colts' pass rush was also effective, as defensive ends Al-Quadin Muhammad and Kemoko Turay each had two sacks on the afternoon, while Indy had 11 total quarterback hits, including three from Muhammad and two each from Turay and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

"To be honest, I think it's a group effort," Muhammad said. "And everybody is just working hard and doing their part. Four against one — we preach it every day, and it showed up today."

The performance by the Colts' defense on Sunday gives the unit plenty of momentum heading into the team's much-deserved bye week.

Indianapolis (7-6) should be well-rested heading into the final stretch of the season, as the team tries to make one final playoff push against the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars.

"You get the shutout, and now you get to rest," Leonard said. "You know, you get ready for the bye week, taking care of your body. I just pray that everybody, they go home and stay safe. … Everybody get their mind right, body's right, and just be ready to make sure and understand that when we come back, we've got a point to prove and we've got a goal that we're trying to reach."

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