Defense Continues to Come Up With Timely Stops
INDIANAPOLIS – In tight spots and when its team has needed it the most this season, the Indianapolis Colts' defense has responded with some of its biggest performances.
Last week, it was linebacker Gary Brackett with an interception versus Baltimore to seal victory. The week before, safety Melvin Bullitt came up with a crucial tackle on 4th-and-2 against New England. Two weeks before that, the Colts shut out San Francisco in the fourth quarter on its way to a comeback victory.
"The defense," as rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers puts it, "has the offense's back."
While the Colts boast one of the league's most prolific offenses, the unit also has committed only 13 turnovers over the course of 10 games, tied for seventh-best in the NFL.
What is most impressive about the turnovers is the fact that the defense is the only one in the NFL that has not yielded a single touchdown on the ensuing possession all season.
With the defense minimizing harm, the Colts have been able to start the season 10-0 and record four consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victories, an NFL record.
Powers said one of the reasons the defense has performed so well in tight situations this season is because the offense so frequently returns the favor.
"We know when we give up a touchdown or give up points, the offense will come right back and answer," he said. "And that's the type of relationship we have. When they commit a turnover, I'm sure they expect us to go get it back for them.
"It just shows we have their back in all situations just like they have ours," he said.
Last Sunday, the Colts defense turned in another big showing, keeping the Baltimore Ravens out of the end zone the entire game.
Through 10 games, the defense is surrendering just 15.7 points per game, the fewest in the NFL.
"I think it is just the mindset more than anything," Powers said. "No matter where you are on the field, your job as a defense is to stop the other team from scoring. No matter what situation we are put in, we still have a job to do, and we try and do it the best we can."
Powers' rookie counterpart on offense, wide receiver Austin Collie, said the defense has been "tremendous" this season when the offense has needed a big stop.
"Especially the last few games, they've been unbelievable," Collie said. "As far as the pressure they've been putting on an offense and not letting them score, they are doing a great job."
Collie said there is a big difference between giving up touchdowns and holding opponents to field goals, and said the defense has been doing a great job of the latter while keeping opposing offenses off the field.
"As an offense, it takes a little bit of the pressure off us, but we still have the responsibility to score," Collie said. "As a team, we continue to pull it off and finish strong, and I think that's one thing our defense has done exceptionally well this year."
With the defense being there for the offense, and vice versa, Collie said he thinks the team has a unique cohesion.
"As an entire team we kind of rally together," Collie said. "We all have the same goals in mind and everybody on this team is extremely selfless and wants to win. When you have that attitude, on any team, it is hard to beat."
This Sunday, the Colts play the Houston Texans for the second time in three weeks. The last time the two teams faced was on November 8 inside Lucas Oil Stadium, when the offense produced a game-winning drive and the defense held the Texans to a last-second field goal attempt on the way to a 20-17 victory.
"I think that's what has gotten it done for us the past few weeks," Collie said. "Our team morale and rallying behind our leaders and trusting in them has led us to victory."
The Colts issued Thursday's injury report with the following players listed as full participation in practice: RBs-Joseph Addai (knee) and Donald Brown (shoulder), DEs-Raheem Brock (neck) and Robert Mathis (neck), DBs-Antoine Bethea (foot), Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), Tim Jennings (ankle) and Jerraud Powers (knee), WRs-Pierre Garcon (ankle) and Reggie Wayne (foot), LB-Ramon Humber (calf), TEs-Tom Santi (hip) and Jacob Tamme (quadriceps), C-Jeff Saturday (calf) and OT-Tony Ugoh (knee).
Listed as limited participation were QB-Peyton Manning (glute) and TE-Gijon Robinson (concussion), while the following were listed as did not participate: DBs-Aaron Francisco (ankle) and Kelvin Hayden (knee), DEs-Keyunta Dawson (knee) and Dwight Freeney (abdomen), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (knee), OT-Charlie Johnson (foot), QB-Jim Sorgi (right shoulder) and K-Adam Vinatieri (right knee).