INDIANAPOLIS –The Ford Field scoreboard read, "Lions 23, Colts 14," after 30 minutes of play last Sunday.
After falling behind, 7-3, Detroit surged for 20 points and threatened to pull away from an Indianapolis offense that was sputtering.
Matthew Stafford had completed 17-of-28 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown, while Calvin Johnson already had eight of his 13 receptions and 84 of his 171 yards.
Starting the third quarter was a Colts offense that had rushed seven times for 14 yards to that point.
Vick Ballard burst for 16 yards on two rushes and after a long completion, he ended the drive with carries for seven, four and 11 yards. The final rush reached the end zone and the Colts were back in business.
Indianapolis scored touchdowns on its last two drives with Andrew Luck tossing touchdown passes, but his 33 rushing yards on the day came during those drives.
Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians said earlier this year he was not concerned with the "numbers" associated with the rushing game. Rather, he was intent on the ability to run when needed so the offense remained grounded with versatile threats.
Staying committed to the run is essential.
"You have to. You can't get one-dimensional, especially in a place like that with that defensive line," said Arians. "We were able to come out in that first drive in the second half and run it very well. We got in there and the coaches did a great job of making suggestions on what runs we wanted to get to, and the guys blocked it. Vick (Ballard) ran it extremely well."
Indianapolis has nine rushing touchdowns on the season. Five have come from Luck, which sets a franchise seasonal record by a quarterback.
All five of his scores have come at or inside the five-yard line, and his mobility can create an element not present in the attack for years.
Still, a more potent red-zone rushing attack is needed.
Ballard's rushing score at Detroit was just the second this year that came outside the 10-yard line. Donald Brown had an 18-yard score in the opener at Chicago. The other two rushing scores were one-yard plunges.
The club will continue its focus on red zone efficiency. Indianapolis currently is tied for 16th with a 52.6 touchdown percentage on 38 trips.
The Detroit game was the fifth this year where the Colts had less than 50 yards at the half, and it was the third time they stayed committed to the run and earned a win.
Indianapolis had 22 yards on 11 attempts against Miami, but gained 97 yards overall in a 23-20 fourth-quarter victory.
In addition to the Detroit outing, the Colts had 49 yards on 10 rushes at Tennessee. Indianapolis produced a season-high 171 yards in the 19-13 overtime victory.
An 80-yard drive to tie the game late was highlighted by a seven-yard run by Delone Carter on fourth-and-one from the Tennessee eight. He scored one play later.
The Colts won the overtime coin toss and rushed on seven of nine plays to cover 80 yards and win.
Arians sees cohesion and simplicity as reasons for rushing success.
"I think the biggest thing is our offensive line, tight end unit and our receivers are blocking well," said Arians. "One of the things that we do is keep it simple. We run the same things over and over, make it look different but we don't change a lot of what we do in the running game. We try to tailor it to who's running the football and what five guys are playing that week up front."