INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts knew how critical it was to get off to a fast start against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Coming into the game, San Diego had outscored its opponents 42-3 in the first half of its first two games of the season, as both the Chargers' offense and its defense had displayed an ability to be ready to go from the opening kickoff.
The Colts, meanwhile, had scored just 13 combined points in the first two quarters of their Week 1 and 2 losses to the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos.
For Indianapolis, something had to change.
That something, it turned out, was utilizing a more run-heavy approach.
The Colts handed the ball off 16 times in the first half of Sunday's game, 13 of which went to veteran starter Frank Gore — who chugged his way for 70 first-half yards and a touchdown — as the team found itself up 10-0 to end the first quarter.
"It was a game that we had a good opportunity to get in a rhythm," said Gore, who credited his offensive linemen with opening up those early holes. "That's what happened. We weren't behind. We were moving the ball early on. That's why we were able to run the ball."
As it has all season, however, San Diego was able to make plays on offense and defense to catch up in the second quarter, and by halftime, the two teams were knotted at 13. But without that early production from the running game, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said it would've been difficult to imagine trying to move the ball with any sort of consistency against a talented San Diego defense.
"When we have success early and when (Gore) has success early, it sparks this offense and it sparks this football team," Pagano said. "They feed off that. I think that is why, other than the two miscues with the turnovers in the first half, we would've played one heck of a half."
By game's end, it was the Colts' passing attack that had taken over, thanks in large part to a hot T.Y. Hilton, who had six second-half receptions for 131 yards and a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Highlights from the Colts win over the Chargers!
But by establishing the run game on Sunday, especially early, the Colts now have solid evidence of a well-rounded offensive attack for the rest of their opponents to consider moving forward. On Sunday, the Colts travel to take on London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who allow 109.7 rushing yards per game, ranking 20th in the league.
In all, the Colts ran the ball a season-high 26 times for 93 total yards and two touchdowns, as No. 2 back Robert Turbin was able to push it in from one yard out late in the third quarter to give Indianapolis the lead back at 20-19.
Gore finished with 21 rushes for 82 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and had a game-best 19-yard run early in the second quarter. For the season, he now has 48 carries for 185 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
"Frankie did a nice job and the O-line did a nice job and the tight ends," Pagano said. "He was running extremely hard, he was obviously very determined. We had a good plan and the offensive line did a nice job."