- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts needed something out of their defense. The sporadic play over the past seven weeks wasn’t going to cut it, especially with the playoffs only three weeks away.
It turns out a three-and-out possession on their first defensive series was a sign of things to come for the Colts against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Colts held the Texans to 239 yards, sacked quarterback Case Keenum four times, and picked him off twice in their best defensive performance in more than two months in their 25-3 victory.
“We take it upon ourselves as a defense as a whole, because we feed off the front four and they feed off of us covering guys on the back end,” Colts defensive back Darius Butler said. “We had to all come together. Guys executed the calls today, and made plays when we had to.”
The 239 yards given up is the fewest the Colts have allowed since Jacksonville gained 205 yards against them on Sept. 29.
That’s a drastic change defensively for the Colts when you consider that they had given up an average of 31 points and 401 yards per game in the seven games prior to Sunday.
“Yeah, we played good football today,” Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said. “Kept mental mistakes to a minimum, and just able to get after it good and fast start and maintain it throughout the game.”
The Colts wanted to get back on track defensively for the stretch run of the season, but they also remember what the Texans did to them in the first half of their first meeting in Houston on Nov. 3.
Keenum looked like he was going to be the Texans’ quarterback of the future, and receiver Andre Johnson was going to break all kinds of records in the first half. Keenum threw for 208 yards, and Johnson had seven catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of the game.
It was the complete opposite Sunday.
Butler had both of the interceptions thrown by Keenum, including one where he baited the quarterback into attempting a pass to Johnson. Keenum finished the game 18-of-34 for 168 yards. Johnson had four catches for only 18 yards.
The Colts didn’t allow the Texans into the red zone all game.
“They did a great job,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “They practiced really well. They were bound and determined to make amends for what Andre did to us in the first ballgame down there, specifically in the first half. I’m really proud of the guys in the back end. They stepped up. D-Buts getting two interceptions was huge.”
5hEric D. Williams