Colts Performed Pretty Well in 42-6 Victory over St. Louis Sunday, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – So much for the tried and true.
In his first season as the Colts' head coach, Jim Caldwell often has referred to a football "truism" made popular by Penn State University Head Coach Joe Paterno – that a team often isn't as good as it thinks it is when it wins, or as bad as it believes when it loses.
Caldwell referenced the adage yet again Monday. But this time, he said, it didn't quite fit.
Because Caldwell said when reviewing the tape on Monday of the Colts' sixth victory to start the season, there were good things and things that needed to work, but overall . . .
Well, he said overall there was a whole lot to like.
"We certainly didn't see a whole lot different than what we saw out on the field yesterday," Caldwell said Monday, a day after the AFC South-leading Colts (6-0) pulled steadily away from the St. Louis Rams (0-7) for a 42-6 victory at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
"Oftentimes you see some contrast . . . in this particular case, I thought we performed pretty well. There were certainly some problems we had in some areas, but not things we cannot get corrected. We'll work on that this week.
"But overall, we played a pretty good ballgame in all phases."
Peyton Manning, the Colts' nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback, completed 23 of 34 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, with his 116.7 passer rating his fifth consecutive game with a rating of 100 or more. The Colts also rushed for a season-high 156 yards.
Defensively, end Dwight Freeney registered his seventh sack of the season, and the Colts not only sacked Rams quarterback Marc Bulger three times, they intercepted him twice, with a 35-yard interception by rookie cornerback Jacob Lacey giving the Colts a 28-6 lead late in the third quarter.
The Colts have not allowed a touchdown in the last two games, and the last time they allowed a first-half touchdown was Week 2 against Miami.
"You look at the last eight quarters that they have not allowed a touchdown, and I think that is something that is imant," Caldwell said at his weekly next-day news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"(The) bottom line is, can you keep them out of the end zone? That's what they've been able to do more consistently. The energy level is there. The concepts we are using were a little foreign to them at the beginning of the season, and they are getting a bit more familiar with (them). It's still early yet. They still have a lot of room to improve upon.
"We are going to get better as time goes on. The effort and execution is improving every single week. The thing I'm really pleased about, overall, is we just keep getting better every week.
"We keep improving just little by little. That's encouraging."
Said cornerback Kelvin Hayden, "It goes back to the character of the team. As a defense and a secondary, we take on the challenge. Our defense has a lot of wrinkles and it's helping us. We're taking on the challenge of not giving up big plays that a new defense can sometimes bring to the table.
"Guys are really keyed in and tuned into the job."
The victory left the Colts as one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL, with the others being the Denver Broncos (6-0) and New Orleans Saints (6-0). The Minnesota Vikings sustained their first loss of the season Sunday.
The victory also extended the Colts' franchise-record regular-season winning streak to 15, a stretch that dates to a 31-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville last October. The NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories is 21.
The Colts, who will play host to San Francisco (3-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, now lead the AFC South by two and half games over Houston (4-3), which beat San Francisco, 24-21, in Houston Sunday. Jacksonville (3-3) and Tennessee (0-6) were idle in the division Sunday.
The Colts will play host to Houston on November 8, with the 49ers and Texans part of a three-game home stretch that concludes against New England November 15.
The Colts last had three consecutive home games in 1999, when they beat Cincinnati, Dallas and Kansas City on consecutive weeks. They also had such a stretch in 1998, when they went 1-2.
"It balances itself out," Caldwell said. "We had four of six on the road, which is quite unusual. It won't change our workload at all. We will function the same way, whether we're home or away.
"We don't change our practice schedule. We don't change from week to week in terms of our protocol."
Also Monday, Caldwell said the team will have a "better feel . . . as the week goes on" about injuries to wide receiver Reggie Wayne (groin) and running back Donald Brown (shoulder). He also said wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee) could be nearing a return to practice.
Gonzalez has been out since Week 1.
"I just had the chance to visit with him a minute ago, and he feels really good about where he is," Caldwell said Monday. "He ran some routes on Saturday. He thought he felt really good. He feels like he's close to going. Whether that's this week or next week remains to be seen.
"I think we may see a little something out of him this week."