INDIANAPOLIS – The last time the Colts defense gave up single digit points in back-to-back road victories, Chuck Pagano was a college assistant at East Carolina and was nine years away from his first NFL job.
Here's Pagano 21 years later watching the side of the ball he's spent his entire career coaching put together performances that rank among the franchise's finest.
On Sunday, the Colts defense limited Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew to 1.8 yards per carry (13 rushes for 23 yards), forced three turnovers and had four sacks in a 37-3 road victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Credit Greg (Manusky) and what the rest of the defensive staff is doing, putting together back-to-back performances like that," Chuck Pagano said to Colts post game radio as the head coach rattled off the impressive defensive stats.
Following the game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck credited the defense for "carrying" the offense early on.
The defensive unit allowed just three points in the first quarter (that came when the Jaguars took over at the Colts 41-yard line) and forced a pair of punts in the opening frame.
Down 3-0 heading into the second stanza, the Colts were in search for a big play and of course Darius Butler was there to make it in Jacksonville.
Last year, Butler forced three turnovers in the Colts meeting in Jacksonville and on Sunday the Colts cornerback once again put points on the board in front of family and friends.
Butler corralled a tipped pass by Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert and returned the interception 41 yards for a touchdown to give the Colts a 10-3 lead.
"We needed a spark," Pagano said of the Butler interception. "We got off to a little bit of a slow start offensively. Defense was out there bailing us out and the play that Darius made with the pick six got us some momentum."
Butler now has three interceptions returned for a touchdown (two in Jacksonville) with the Colts and Sunday's effort came in his home state.
"It's like a home game for me," the Fort Lauderdale native said of playing the Jaguars. "A lot of family always comes out here and I think that's how things work sometimes."
The first priority week-in-and-week-out for the Colts defense comes in stopping the opponent's rushing attack.
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has feasted on the Colts during his career and came into Sunday with eight career 100-yard rushing games and was averaging 5.4 yards per carry against Indianapolis.
On Sunday, MJD had just 23 yards on 13 carries (1.8 average), which was his lowest yards per carry output in his past 60 games.
"The biggest thing was stopping the run," Pagano said. "Holding MJD to 1.8 per carry, phenomenal, phenomenal job by that defense."
The effort in the rushing game allowed for the Colts pass rush continue its torrid start to the 2013 season.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis tied a career high (third time in his career) with 3.0 sacks and he is now just 1.0 sack away from 100 for his career.
After four sacks for the defense on Sunday, the Colts now have 13.0 on the season and Mathis made sure to credit each positional group for having one of the league's top sack numbers.
"We lean on each other. Everybody knows each other. Trust is sky high right now so we can play off each other and play Colts football," Mathis said after the first AFC South win in 2013.
"We feed off each other. Our DBs, I'll say they are the best. They give us time to get to the quarterback so that goes a long way."
In 23 drives for the Colts defense over the last two weeks, the unit has forced 13 punts, six turnovers and two of those drives ended at half/or the end of the game.
During the preseason, the Colts defense talked about being among the league's best and it heads into the month of October with some serious momentum.
"The more reps that we get together with the front seven and the back four and five then the better off we will be," Butler said.
"We are just feeding off each other's energy, always push each other to make plays in practice, harping the turnovers and getting pressure on the quarterback. If we do that, we will be great."