Saturday, November 23, 2013
Struggling run game faces stingy Cards
By Mike Wells
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts had their best rushing game since Week 4 when they ran for 137 yards against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 14.
Was that the start of the Colts finding their groove again with their rushing attack?
You would like to think that's going to be the case.
Enter the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals are one of the stingiest teams in the league when it comes to stopping the run. They give up only 81.4 yards a game on the ground, which is second in the league. That number has been even lower -- 45 yards a game -- during their current three-game winning streak.
"You could argue that," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said when asked if Arizona has won of the best defenses in the league. "They're really good, front to back. Got playmakers at all three levels. The front is outstanding. The linebackers are very, very active, athletic and fast, make a lot of plays. The secondary is really good. You could argue that. They're ninth in total defense, second against the run, pretty impressive."
Running back Trent Richardson has yet to play the way the Colts envisioned when they traded for him in September. He's listed as questionable with a calf injury. The Colts believe he'll play Sunday.
Fellow running back Donald Brown ran for a season-high 80 yards, including 51 in the second half, against the Titans. Richardson will remain the starter unless he has a setback with his calf.
"We don't plan on changing our rotation with our backs," offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. "We've always been a running back by committee bunch, so we're going to continue to do that."
Don't expect the Colts to shy away from attempting to run the ball against the Cardinals early in the game. Hamilton scripts the first 15-20 plays each game. The Colts will attempt to fix their slow starts -- they've been outscored 66-9 in the first half in the past three games -- against the league's ninth best defense.
"Very salty defense," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "They play hard. They do a good of stuffing the run. They got a good front seven and a really talented secondary. You turn on the film, you see guys flying to the football, getting hands on the football. You see [Tyrann] Mathieu running down and causing a fumble at the 1-yard line on a big play. We know it's going to be tough, tough sledding, but we're looking forward to it. It will be a great challenge."