INDIANAPOLIS –Early on Saturday afternoon at FedExField, the matchup of quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III was overshadowed by the opposing defenses.
Despite playing without three first-team starters, the Colts defense shut out the Redskins offense on the game's opening two possessions.
The Colts were able to stop a pair of third-and-ones by the Redskins to end each of the drives.
Linebacker Jerrell Freeman, filling in for linebacker Pat Angerer, drilled Griffin III on a third-and-one to end the opening drive of the game.
Freeman has started the last two games in the middle of the Colts' defense, and he led the team with six tackles, three solo.
"It went okay, some good things, some bad things," Freeman said. "(I) still have some things that I need to work on. It's a process, though."
Cornerback D.J. Johnson made his first start in a Colts uniform as cornerback Justin King did not play due to injury.
The secondary had to make another change early in the first half when cornerback Jerraud Powers left the game with a knee sprain.
Taking Powers' place was cornerback Cassius Vaughn, and he had five solo stops to rank behind Freeman. All of Vaughn's tackles came in the first half.
Outside linebacker Jerry Hughes made it a trio of backups starting for the Colts defense as he played for Robert Mathis (shoulder). Mathis was hurt early in the Pittsburgh game a week ago, and Hughes has performed well in preseason.
The starting defense exited the game after forcing a three-and-out on the Redskins' initial drive of the second half.
With a short week ahead for Thursday's preseason finale against Cincinnati, an emphasis will be put on a rush defense that did not perform well against the Redskins.
"We've got to be able to establish the edge in the run game and do a better job inside, knocking (the offensive line) back," Pagano said. "Any time you give up the yards that we did in the run game it just opens everything up for the offense, so we got to go back to that."
In 13 drives this preseason, the Colts first-team defense has given up just three scoring drives.