Colts Offense Gets All the Glory but Don't Forget About Indy's Defense

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Colts Offense Gets All the Glory but Don't Forget About Indy's Defense
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Colts offense was very good against the Seahawks on Sunday, putting up 27 points and turning the ball over just once (a fumble that should have been canceled out by a blow to the head penalty). 

Seattle's defense is one of the best in the league, if not the best, but Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne were able to solve it, especially in the second half. 

That's all fine and dandy, and great to see after the Colts offense was so inconsistent in the first two weeks, but as well as the Colts performed on that side of the ball (and it will be discussed a lot over the next week), it's important to note what the Colts defense did against the Seahawks. 

 

Stopping the Run

Let's start with something the Colts didn't do: stop the run. 

The Colts allowed 218 yards on the day and over six yards per carry. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch each ran for 102 yards, and Robert Turbin chipped in 14 yards. 

A large chunk of those rushing yards came off of Russell Wilson's scrambling ability, which deserves a note on its own. The Colts were extremely disciplined against San Francisco two weeks ago and did a phenomenal job of containing Colin Kaepernick. Against the Seahawks, however, the Colts consistently gave Wilson lanes to run, and it killed them throughout the game. 

Even when Wilson wasn't scrambling, he and Lynch were knifing through the Colts defense with ease with the read-option. 

On the bright side, the Colts were able to stop Lynch when it counted. Lynch ran for an 18-yard gain on the first play of the second half. He ran for just eight yards on five carries for the rest of the game. 

 

Third-Down Excellence

While the Seattle offense may have been able to move the ball consistently for 6.3 yards per play, the Colts stymied them on third down throughout the afternoon. The Seahawks converted just two of their 12 third-down conversions and one of three fourth-down attempts. 

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Jerrell Freeman was inconsistent against the run, but has been extremely effective as a quarterback spy.

The Colts did a good job of spying Russell Wilson on third down, especially Jerrell Freeman, and they forced him to finish just 2-of-8 passing for 36 yards and one first down. Wilson was able to run for one first down but was stopped short on two other scramble attempts. 

Erik Walden has been bad for much of the start of the season, but he had two stops on Wilson on third down. 

On fourth down, the Colts allowed a five-yard scramble in the first half but forced turnovers on the other two: a sack-fumble by Robert Mathis to end the first half and an interception by Darius Butler at the end of the second half. 

 

Forcing Field Goals

Again, the Colts allowed the Seahawks to move the ball consistently, forcing just two punts on the day. 

But when the Seahawks got into Indianapolis territory, the Colts stiffened.  

Seattle Drive Chart
Time Starting LOS Plays Yards Result
1st 13:53 SEA 48 5 28 FG
1st 10:28 SEA 36 8 64 TD
1st 4:53 SEA 43 3 9 Punt
1st 1:04 SEA 35 8 35 Blocked FG
2nd 13:06 SEA 18 12 82 TD
2nd 0:58 SEA 20 6 34 Fumble
3rd 15:00 SEA 20 9 62 FG
3rd 9:42 IND 30 4 7 FG
3rd 4:16 SEA 20 9 52 FG
4th 8:55 SEA 20 3 8 Punt
4th 1:55 SEA 20 5 17 INT

NFL.com

The Colts forced five field-goal attempts on the day, blocking one that was returned by Delano Howell for a touchdown. 

Why is this occurring? Don't ask me. The Colts struggled to force third downs on Seattle's half of the field, but for whatever reason, forced third downs when on their own half. We've already discussed what happened on third downs. 

This is something the Colts have excelled in all season. The Colts have only allowed eight touchdowns so far this season. Among teams that have played five games, only the Chiefs (6) and the Patriots (7) have allowed fewer touchdowns. 

If the Colts continue to stiffen in the red zone, they can survive allowing a lot of yards. 

 

Mathis Playing Like A Young Man

With Dwight Freeney gone and age creeping in, Robert Mathis was supposed to falter this season. 

That's not happening. 

Robert Mathis has 9.5 sacks so far, the most ever in the first five weeks of the NFL season. 

Most Sacks Through Week 5 in NFL History
Player Year Games Sacks
Mark Gastineau 1984 4 9.0
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila 2001 4 9.0
Kevin Greene 1998 4 9.0
Robert Mathis 2013 5 9.5

Pro-Football-Reference.com

"But wait," you say. "Those three players only played four games!"

Yes, they each had a bye in the first five weeks, which is interesting. But even if you compare the first five games (rather than weeks) of a season, only Kevin Greene has more than Mathis with 10.0. 

The fact that Mathis has been able to consistently get sacks (at least one in each game, at least two in three games) is phenomenal, especially considering the lack of pass-rushers on this team. Mathis is the only premier pass-rusher, but he is still getting sacks. 

Mathis moves to 101 sacks in his career and becomes the 29th player in NFL history to earn 100 sacks in his career.

 

Veteran Leadership Has the Defense Rolling

But Mathis isn't the only veteran who has a key part in this defense. Defensive end Cory Redding is playing better than he has in his entire career and is a key part of the Colts pass rush and run-stopping abilities on the defensive line. 

Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
Bethea's a solid tackler as well, an eraser in the defensive backfield.

Antoine Bethea, meanwhile, is the quarterback of the secondary, directing a unit that has been surprisingly effective throughout the season. Bethea also is one of the Colts' vocal leaders and had a key part in the Colts' comeback on Sunday, according to the Indy Star's Bob Kravitz

After they fell behind 12-0 during a first quarter that was putrid in all three phases of the game – dropped passes, a blocked punt and an abject lack of defensive resistance -- safety Antoine Bethea called the team together on the Colts sideline.

He was hot. Really hot.

“There were a couple of expletives in there,’’ Reggie Wayne said with a smile. “Basically, he told us all to wake up.’’

Bethea's energy on the field has fueled the Colts secondary as well, and he's been effective cleaning up runs that get to the second level as well. 

With the three providing both leadership and excellent play on all three levels of the defense, the Colts are 4-1 and are the class of the AFC. If they continue to play this way, the Colts are real contenders in the AFC. 

Oh, and they've beat two of the NFC's top four teams over the last three weeks. 

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