INDIANAPOLIS — After a few rough outings, the Indianapolis Colts really needed the defensive effort that they put forth on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. In the team's 37-5 victory, both the offense and defense put together a complete game.
With Derek Anderson filling in for first-round pick Josh Allen at quarterback for the Bills, the Colts knew heading into this game that they would need to prepare more for Buffalo's offensive scheme than Anderson individually, as the veteran and career backup had only been with the team for less than two weeks beforehand.
With that in mind — and with a nice, building lead that started growing in the second quarter — the Colts went into attack mode and harassed Anderson throughout the game, sacking him twice — one of which resulted in a fumble recovered by cornerback Quincy Wilson — and intercepted him three times.
In total, the Colts defense had five takeaways, continuing their streak of forcing a turnover in every game this season.
The Colts defense also had a couple fortunate breaks, as Allen was unable to play due to an elbow injury, and starting running back LeSean McCoy suffered a head injury on the Bills' second play of the game and didn't return. However, you have to lineup and play no matter the circumstances.
"I don't think people see the work that these guys put in," new Colts safety Mike Mitchell said following the game. "This has been one of the hardest working groups I've been around, and I've only been here 13 days, maybe."
The Colts were able to take away plays downfield, and they kept the Bills' offense in front of them for the most part — yielding just three points as a defense and holding Buffalo to 20 percent (2-of-10) on third and fourth down, and just one trip into the red zone.
As has been the case throughout 2018, this Indy defense has been an opportunistic bunch, and it's received several big plays from young defenders.
Early in the fourth quarter, rookie defensive end Kemoko Turay got the sack that forced the Anderson fumble, which was recovered by Wilson, a second-year corner, and returned inside Buffalo's five-yard line.
Two possessions later, fellow second-year cornerback Kenny Moore II also had an interception as he jumped an Anderson pass attempt down the middle of the field.
The Colts' defense has also been a resilient group. Although the unit has had several defensive starters in and out of the lineup throughout the year, the players have stayed focused and continued to make plays.
Mitchell is a great example, as he has filled in for Clayton Geathers to become one of the Colts' leaders in the secondary the last two weeks. Last week, he was Pro Football Focus’ top graded safety, and this week he forced a fumble and came up with an interception that he returned 47 yards.
"What I really like about Mike, not only making plays on the field, but just the consummate team guy," Colts head coach Frank Reich said about Mitchell. "A leader. He just oozes leadership right from the start. He walks in off the street and is leading, and leading by example, making plays and other ways as well. (He's) been a big help and a big lift for our defense."
The Colts' defense had a top-notch performance Sunday, but as the 24-hour rule dictates, tomorrow's focus begins on the Oakland Raiders and next Sunday' matchup on the West Coast.
"I like what we did today," Mitchell said. "There is a positive feeling for it, but we've got to enjoy it for a couple hours and get ready to play a tough team in Oakland all the way out west."