INDIANAPOLIS – Coming into Sunday, the disciplined Indianapolis Colts had committed a league fewest six turnovers in 2013.
However, the ball-protecting nature of the Colts was absent against the Rams on Sunday afternoon.
A handful of turnovers, (three in the Rams red zone) coupled with a trio of "chunk" play touchdowns added up to a 38-8 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"They beat us in every single phase, from the first strip-sack, punt return, minus four turnover margin, one-of-five red area, gave up big plays - we just didn't do anything," head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game.
In an effort to get off to a better start, the Colts offense appeared on its way to just that by marching into Rams territory on the game's opening possession.
Yet on a third-and-13 from the Rams 42-yard line, NFC sack-leader Robert Quinn stripped Andrew Luck and Rams defensive end Chris Long picked up the fumble and went 45 yards for a touchdown.
From there the big plays by the Rams, and in particular rookie Tavon Ausitn, took the game over.
With the Rams leading 14-0, the Colts appeared to have downed a punt inside of the Rams five-yard line when Austin fielded a bouncing Pat McAfee punt.
The electric Austin weaved his way through Colts defenders and went 98 yards the other way to push the lead to 21-0 with 10:28 to go in the first half.
"Had guys down there and a bunch of guys maybe assuming the play's going to be downed at the one-yard line," Pagano said recalling the return.
"We told our guys, (Austin) would catch it at the one, catch it five yards deep. He's that type of player and he's dynamic that way. Because of his special ability and his traits, and the way he can return, they give him the flexibility to do whatever. He made a great play and we obviously didn't cover well enough."
Austin would once again be the guy on the Rams next offensive drive when he scored on a 57-yard touchdown reception.
The final "chunk" play from Austin came on the opening drive of the second half when the first skill player chosen in the 2013 draft showed off his abilities one more time with an 81-yard touchdown reception.
"They moved (Austin) around a lot, put him in mismatch situations, using his speed to run away from coverage," Colts cornerback Vontae Davis said of the "rub routes" that made Austin so successful on Sunday.
Facing a significant deficit, the Colts offense went into hurry-up mode in the third quarter.
While the unit moved the ball on nearly every drive, three interceptions by Luck (equaling his 2013 total coming into Sunday) marred any comeback attempt.
"When you get down, I think I forced a couple balls," Luck said. "They do a good job of playing zone, getting their hands on those balls, tipping them and making plays. It's frustrating."
The attention for Luck and the Colts now turns to Thursday night as the team will have a short week before heading to Tennessee on Wednesday.
With the Titans loss on Sunday, the Colts still hold a two-game lead in the AFC South and getting a chance to "right our wrongs" in a vital division game comes in just four days.
"Our mental mentality, our toughness, our believe in one another has not wavered," defensive end Cory Redding said after the game.
"You can't take nothing from the Rams. They came in and executed well. We didn't. They beat us but the best thing about is, we've got Tennessee on the road Thursday night, divisional game. Get this taste out of our mouth and get back on this winning streak."