Colts' defense bottles up another foe

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
7:45
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Don’t pay attention to the total yards the Indianapolis Colts gave up the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 37-3 victory on Sunday.

Giving up only 205 yards was impressive, but the number that you should pay attention to is the 67 yards the Colts gave up through three quarters when they were making sure they weren't going to get caught in the trap against Jacksonville.

The 138 yards the Colts gave up in the fourth quarter were garbage yards because the outcome had already been determined and the winless Jaguars were playing for their dignity at that point.

[+] EnlargeDarius Butler
Phil Sears/USA TODAY SportsDarius Butler returned an interception for a TD as part of a dominant day for the Colts' defense.
The Colts carried over what they did against San Francisco last weekend and brought that same dominating defense with them to Jacksonville.

“You can sense when blood is in the water,” Colts cornerback Vontae Davis said. “The first quarter they came out throwing their best shot at us, but we knew once we tasted blood we could jump on them quick. It got to the point where it seemed like they were ready for us to pack up our stuff and head back to Indy.”

It would be easy to wonder if the Colts' defense is for real because they played the Jaguars, who are just treading water these days. But that thought should quickly get erased because Indianapolis did the same thing to the 49ers.

The Colts have only given up 459 yards, 28 first downs and 10 points in the past two games. It’s time to look at the Colts as more than an offensive team.

Coach Chuck Pagano’s defensive mindset and coordinator Greg Manusky’s schemes have sunk in. It just took a little while for it to happen.

“We are going to stick to the process, keep coming back in here and preparing, staying the course and staying ready,” Pagano said. “We know who we are. … Again, to go on the road, after last week’s road trip, division game, and all those things.”

Having a stout defense eases the pressure on quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of offense to put up a lot of points in order for them to win. The defense has shown that it’s good enough to win games on days the offense struggles.

“It’s awesome. It really is,” Luck said. “They do such a great job in practice all week, and to have them come out [like they did], it makes the offense’s job easier. Yeah, we’d love to score every play, but when you have a defense that’s playing like that, you realize it can be good team football.”

Indianapolis’ defense spent the week leading up to the game talking about containing running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who went into Sunday averaging 106.8 yards in 13 games against the Colts.

Jones-Drew was never a factor Sunday. The Colts bottled him up and held him to 23 yards on 13 carries.

That meant the Jaguars were forced to try to beat the Colts through the air with an unimpressive Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. And that played into the hands of Davis and fellow cornerback Greg Toler.

Davis set the tone defensively for the Colts by intercepting a Gabbert pass after dancing to get both feet in along the sideline on Jacksonville’s first offensive possession.

That just turned out to be the start of things for the opportunistic Colts defense. Davis tipped a Gabbert pass intended for Cecil Shorts and nickelback Darius Butler picked it off and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.

The Colts intercepted Gabbert three times, sacked him four times and held the Jaguars to 2-of-11 on third down.

“We work real hard in practice, we push each other, the offense pushes us in practice, we hone in on our techniques and on Sunday it’s almost easier than it should be,” Butler said. “We’re just playing physical and we want to keep that mentality.”

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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