FORMULA TO SUCCESS

Step-by-step, game-by-game, the Indianapolis Colts continue to follow their simple formula to success.

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Colts Continue to Build Early Leads

INDIANAPOLIS – Step-by-step, game-by-game, the Indianapolis Colts continue to follow their simple formula to success.

While the storylines have varied some week-to-week, the plot has stayed much the same for the Colts in their six victories this season.

The offense gets off to a fast start and strikes early, while the defense keeps opponents from catching up by utilizing the pass rush and creating turnovers.

In six games this season, the Colts have allowed only one first-half touchdown and are outscoring opponents in the first two quarters a combined 104-37.

"Last year, the first series of the game (our opponents) would drive down and we'd give up a touchdown," linebacker Gary Brackett said. "It was just very deflating. This year we've been making it a point to start fast week-in and week-out. We're jumping out on teams."

Last Sunday's game at St. Louis was no different. Like they had done in their previous three games, the Colts scored three touchdowns before the half. And with a big lead in hand, the defense was able to take over, registering three sacks, two interceptions and holding the Rams to only 117 net yards passing.

"You look at the last eight quarters and (the defense) has not allowed a touchdown, and I think that is something that is important," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "The bottom line is, 'Can you keep (your opponents) out of the end zone?' That's what we've been able to do more consistently."

And the defense has been keeping it up all game. The Colts have totaled 16 sacks this season, seven by defensive end Dwight Freeney, and are allowing just 12.8 points per game, the second-lowest total in the NFL.

Brackett said a big reason the defense is playing well is the unit's continuity.

"Guys are playing with each other, seeing the same thing," he said. "We're not making mistakes out there. Guys are lining up properly, and then it's just a matter of playing ball and executing the defense."

While the defense is giving up the second-fewest points in the league, the offense is scoring the second-most at 29.8 points per game.

The passing offense is tops in the NFL and quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown for 15 touchdowns this season with many coming in the first half, when the Colts have scored the game's first touchdown in every contest this season.

"If we continue to start fast, get off early in the game, it'll keep paying dividends for us," Brackett said.

Despite building leads, Caldwell said the Colts do not change their game plan much at the half.

"We try and come back in the second half and try and duplicate what we did in the first," Caldwell said. "If we have some difficulty that warrants change, then we have to consider doing things a little different. But so far, we have not.

"The thing I'm really pleased about, overall, is we just keep getting better every week," the Colts coach said. "We keep improving just little by little. And that's encouraging."

HORSE HIGHLIGHTS
• The Colts offensive line continues to protect quarterback Peyton Manning at an incredible rate. In 215 pass attempts through six games, Manning only has been sacked twice. The second closest total is a tie between Atlanta and Tennessee who both have allowed six.

• After having four of their first six games on the road, the Colts now return to Indianapolis for a three-game home stand against San Francisco, Houston and New England. "It won't change our workload at all," Caldwell said. "We will function the same way, whether we're home or away. We don't change our practice schedule."

• Sunday marked Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders' return to the playing field and Caldwell said the 2007 Defensive Player-of-the-Year performed well. "You could see he's getting his feet underneath him. He came up and made some nice plays ... We anticipate he'll get a little bit more action as the weeks go on. We'll see how he feels in practice during the course of the week and what the doctors say, and we'll move forward from there."

LACEY NOMINATED FOR WEEKLY ROOKIE HONOR
Colts rookie defensive back Jacob Lacey has been nominated for NFL Rookie-of-the-Week honors. Lacey is a finalist along with Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, New York Jets running back Shonn Greene, Minnesota wide receiver Percy Harvin and Arizona running back Beanie Wells.

Lacey recorded his first career interception in the Colts 42-6 victory at St. Louis Sunday, returning it 35 yards for a touchdown and extending the Colts lead to 28-6 in the third quarter. He also had three tackles. Lacey, an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State, has a team-best six passes defensed to go along with 19 tackles this season.

Fans can vote for the award at NFL.com/rookies beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m. (ET) through noon (ET) on Friday.

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