Indianapolis won its fifth straight game and completed an undefeated month of November despite not scoring an offensive touchdown. The win marked the fifth straight season that the Colts had not lost a game in November.
The Colts are now 8-4 for the season and 6-2 against AFC teams this year. Indianapolis, though, was held without an offensive touchdown for the first time in a regular-season game since the same two franchises faced off in the 2003 season opener, the Colts coming away with a 9-6 decision.
Despite the offense having a tough day against the Browns, it was the team's much-maligned defense that rose up and shut down the Cleveland offense. But now, it's back to Lucas Oil Stadium for back-to-back home games with Cincinnati and Detroit.
"Our defense won the game for us. Obviously, we moved the ball well at times but just got down near the end zone and came away with three points. That's disappointing. Something that we've been good at (scoring touchdowns in the red zone)," Manning said.
"In the second half, we really didn't finish drives. Couldn't find the continuity there. But the defense really made a play there in the fourth quarter, which was critical. And it was enough to win the game. Everybody wants to get better, but offensively we need to play much better."
Colts coach Tony Dungy came away from the Cleveland game proud of his team's overall effort, especially getting through a rugged schedule that included games with Tennessee, New England, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego and the Browns. Indianapolis went 5-1 in those matchups.
And he knows that neither Cincinnati nor Detroit, despite their won-loss records, can be considered pushovers the next couple of weeks either.
"When you look at playing New England at home and then Houston in a division game at home and then having to go to Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland, people would have said, 'Hey, that's going to be tough duty.' And especially at the time, we were 3-4. We weren't exactly rolling and hitting on all cylinders. But our team, they have faith and they just played one week at a time," Dungy said.
"And that's what we said. Don't worry about the whole schedule; don't worry about the end of the year; don't worry about the playoffs. Just play every week and prepare every week. And that's what we've done. And that's what we've got to continue to do now in December. One thing people will say is, 'Oh, you're coming home for two weeks and you've got Cincinnati and Detroit.' You can't look at it that way. We've got to do the exact same thing that we've done in November and keep this momentum going."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was just a matter of trying to get to the quarterback any way I can. Whatever happens, I've got to make a play. Whether I'm double-teamed or not or single-blocked or not. Regardless of who I'm playing against, I've got to get there. You (as a defense) always want to ice the game. I don't care who you are. You've got to have that mindset of seconds on the clock; you've got to make the sack. Or seconds on the clock, you've got to get the interception. I think we did that." — DE Dwight Freeney, on his sack of Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, which forced a fumble that was returned for the game's only touchdown.
TRENDING: The Colts had not fumbled in a game since the season opener with Chicago. Indianapolis fumbled twice (losing both) against Cleveland, one by RB Joseph Addai on the Colts' first play of the game and the other by QB Peyton Manning on a fourth down at the Browns' goal line.