Colts Break Out Of Funk In Big Way

The Indianapolis Colts sent a loud message to the rest of the NFL with their 31-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday. Not only did the Colts post their first-ever win at Lucas Oil Stadium in convincing fashion against one of the league's best defensive units, Tony Dungy's team, which improved to 3-2 for the year, finally showed signs of breaking out of its early-season funk in the process.

A lethal combination of aggressive defensive play, heads-up offense and a special teams unit that was, indeed, special against the Ravens. The Colts came out of the box early against Baltimore, who came into the game with the NFL's No. 1-ranked overall defense (allowing just 192.5 yards per game) and was also tops in rushing defense (giving up an average of 64 yards per game) and pass defense (128.5 yards per game).

Indianapolis' much-maligned defensive unit set things in motion early, forcing five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles) and did not allow a first down in the first quarter. The Colts also sacked Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco four times, three by defensive end Robert Mathis.

Mathis, who forced and recovered a fumble to help Indianapolis' comeback win at Houston a week earlier, was a force against the Ravens. Unofficially, he ended the game with six total tackles, three sacks, two quarterback hits, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

But as pleased as he was with the win, and it was a big one for the Colts, Dungy knows that there is still work to be done as the season progresses.

The Colts will be on the road for the next two games, playing at Green Bay this week before heading to Nashville to face AFC South leader Tennessee in a Monday night matchup on Oct. 27. Indianapolis will return home to face New England on Nov. 2.

"We definitely have the energy level (that the team had been missing in earlier games this season). We've just got to keep that going and bring our young guys along and see if we can get even sharper," he said. "We got a win in our new stadium. We had about five minutes (of good play) last week (against Houston). We had 45 minutes this week (against Baltimore). We have to continue to build on that. I think our guys just played better this week."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We did play well. We got off to a fast start. The defense did an excellent job all game, holding them to three points was impressive and creating a lot of turnovers. We had some excellent field position, but we wanted to be aggressive against Baltimore. They are such an aggressive defense and they are so smart. You have to pick and choose your times to be aggressive, but you have to be." — Colts QB Peyton Manning, on the win over Baltimore.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Colts came into the game with the NFL's worst run defense, giving up an average of 188.5 yards through the first four games of the season. But against Baltimore on Sunday, Indianapolis had 51 total yards on 19 carries (including a team-high 23 yards on six carries by rookie Ray Rice).


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