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Colts edge Browns in defensive battle

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts won a sometimes sluggish game Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, but their best moment of the day came afterward.

Colts owner Jim Irsay told the team in the locker room that coach Chuck Pagano had been released from the hospital Sunday morning and watched Indianapolis' 17-13 win on television at home.

"I was more thrilled about that than the win," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said.

Pagano is undergoing treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia. He will continue his treatment on an outpatient basis and is not expected to return this season.

The game, a battle of rookie quarterbacks on rebuilding teams, came down to the final minutes, with the Colts' defense delivering the stop it needed.

Indianapolis defensive back Jerraud Powers managed to disrupt Brandon Weeden's pass to Josh Cooper on fourth down in Colts territory with 1:54 left to help seal the win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts evened their record at 3-3, while the Browns fell to 1-6.

Luck completed 16 of 29 passes for 186 yards, and he rushed for two touchdowns. Weeden was 25-for-41 for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts were surprisingly effective on the ground. Rookie Vick Ballard carried the ball 20 times for 84 yards, and second-year back Delone Carter added 41 yards on 11 attempts.

Cleveland managed only 55 yards rushing, and rookie Trent Richardson played only the first half, carrying eight times for 8 yards.

Richardson, who entered the game with a rib injury, was not injured further, but Browns coach Pat Shurmur took him out because he wasn't effective.

"I told our players last week we made enough plays to win the game (against the Cincinnati Bengals)," Shurmur said. "This week we didn't, and there were a lot of contributing factors."

The Colts took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, with Luck directing an 11-play, 80-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes. It was a mix of run and pass, starting with a 30-yard Luck-to-Reggie Wayne pass and ending with Luck's 3-yard run for the score. Luck was 4-for-4 passing for 67 yards on the drive.

Cleveland answered with a 16-play, 90-yard drive on its first possession. Weeden was 6-for-8 passing for 69 yards, hitting Greg Little in the back of the end zone for a score from 14 yards out. Browns holder Reggie Hodges bobbled the snap, causing a missed extra point. The Colts led 7-6 early in the second quarter.

Luck ran 5 yards for his second score, capping a 76-yard drive on the Colts' second possession to make it 14-6 with 7:41 left in the half. Luck converted on third-down passes to Donnie Avery, Coby Fleener and Wayne during the drive.

The Colts led 14-6 at the half, but Cleveland wasted no time in opening the third quarter with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Weeden hit Josh Gordon for a 33-yard score to cut Indianapolis' lead to one point.

"That first drive of the second half was terrific," Shurmur said. "We went right down and scored. Offensively, we had no more point production after that. As much as last week was a team victory, I think it's safe to say this is a team loss."

Another long drive by the Colts (8 1/2 minutes) ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 17-13 lead for the Colts with 3:19 left in the third quarter. Both teams' offenses stagnated from that point on.

"We lose focus and have dumb mental errors, and I'm the biggest culprit out there on the offense," Luck said. "That has to be fixed if we're going to stack wins together."

The Browns had a chance to take the lead with less than seven minutes left when Weeden tried to hit Gordon on a deep pass over Powers. Gordon couldn't hold on in the end zone. Rather than go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Colts' 41, Cleveland punted.

"With two timeouts and six minutes left, the best thing to do was punt," Shurmur said.

A 26-yard run by Ballard late in the game helped eat the clock.

Taking over at its own 20-yard line with seven seconds left, Cleveland tried a multiple-lateral play but failed to get the ball to midfield.

NOTES: The Colts were without five starters due to injuries: running back Donald Brown, outside linebacker Robert Mathis, guard Joe Reitz, defensive end Cory Redding and defensive tackle Fili Moala. Starters out for the Browns were wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, guard Jason Pinkston and linebacker Scott Fujjita. ... Luck became the third quarterback in Colts history to rush for two touchdowns in a game.
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