Peyton struggles, Colts’ D steps up against ChiefsBy CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 11, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indianapolis Colts defense heard its critics and offered a resounding response against Kansas City.
Indy had been pounded for 174 yards on the ground in a loss to Jacksonville the previous week, the latest of several defensive collapses this season.
It was unclear whether things would get better on Sunday against the league’s only remaining unbeaten team. The Chiefs had one of the league’s top running games, and a bye week gave them extra time to prepare.
Indy’s defense dominated in a 19-9 win to take a share of the AFC South lead. The Colts kept the Chiefs out of the end zone and held them to 261 total yards.
“I just know we’ve got a lot of pride on the team and defensively,” defensive end Dwight Freeney(notes) said. “It’s never as bad as people say it is. It’s never as good as people say it is. It’s usually somewhere in between a lot of times.”
It was nearly impossible for the Colts to tune out their critics.
Sunday’s matchup looked like it could be a problem for Indy. The team announced last week that safety Melvin Bullitt(notes) would miss the rest of season with a shoulder injury. Bullitt was the replacement for Bob Sanders(notes), who is expected to be out until at least December after having surgery to repair a torn biceps muscle in his right arm.
Indianapolis entered Sunday’s game ranked 29th out of 32 teams against the run, and the Chiefs were the No. 3 running team in the league.
The statistics didn’t matter. The Chiefs ran 17 times for 83 yards in the first half, but gained just 30 yards on 10 carries after the break. Jamaal Charles(notes) finished with 87 yards on 16 carries, but Thomas Jones(notes) was held to 19 yards on eight attempts.
“I thought the first quarter, we did some real good things,” Kansas City coach Todd Haley said. “But we weren’t able to sustain a few drives, especially in the third quarter and into the fourth, that we have to sustain against this team.”
The Colts’ defensive performance was different from the dominant effort in a 38-14 win over the New York Giants in Week 2 because the Colts didn’t have a comfortable lead and couldn’t focus on using their speed to rush the quarterback. The Colts were in danger on Sunday until Mike Hart’s(notes) 11-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining put them up 19-9.
Aside from the game against the Giants, opponents had gotten the best of Indy’s defense. In the opener, Houston’s Arian Foster(notes) ran for 231 yards. Denver’s Kyle Orton(notes) passed for 476 yards against Indy, but the Broncos lost 27-13. Then, the Colts drove down for a tying touchdown against Jacksonville in the final minute, only to give up the game-winning field goal as time expired in a 31-28 loss.
“Obviously, the last couple weeks, I don’t think we played to our ability,” Colts linebacker Gary Brackett(notes) said. “I think we can play better, and I think we went out there and got it done today.”
“They finally stepped up to the challenge today, and hopefully they can do it for the rest of the season,” he said.
Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel(notes) felt his team could have executed better. With the Chiefs trailing 6-0 in the final minutes of the second quarter, Charles fumbled after a vicious hit by Antoine Bethea(notes), and Indy’s Keyunta Dawson(notes) recovered at the Colts’ 34-yard line.
In the third quarter, Jon McGraw(notes) intercepted a pass by Peyton Manning(notes) to set the Chiefs up at the Colts 30. On the Chiefs’ first offensive play, Dwayne Bowe(notes) dropped a pass in the end zone. The Chiefs ended up settling for one of Ryan Succop’s(notes) three field goals.
“It was a time in the game where we felt that we were going to take a shot,” Cassel said. “The play worked out perfectly. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make that play. That stuff happens. We’re going to have to be able to overcome that.”
They couldn’t, in part because the Colts felt they had a lot to prove.
“We understood prior to this game that we had a lot of issues we needed to correct,” Freeney said. “A lot of problems that happened are self-inflicted. And we came out today and played the way we were supposed to play.”