|Colts defense hoping to show Week 1 was no fluke|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 12 September 2007 12:29|
After hearing all the adulation about shutting down the NFL's top offense from last year in Week 1, the Colts want to show everybody, including themselves, they can duplicate that effort at Tennessee.
``It's the next game and we want to keep that consistency going,'' three-time Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney said Wednesday. ``We played very well the last game, but the last game is the last game.''
The Colts kept the New Orleans Saints' offense out of the end zone in a 41-10 win last Thursday. But for years, consistency has been the bane of the Colts' defense.
With the exception of 2005, when Indy ranked among the league's best in turnovers and sacks, the Colts (1-0) have shown mostly flashes of brilliance mixed with struggles.
Mobile quarterbacks, such as Tennessee's Vince Young, have given the Colts trouble, and a year ago, the Colts ranked last in the NFL against the run.
Their performance a week ago appeared to change that image. New Orleans was held without an offensive touchdown for the first time in coach Sean Payton's tenure, and limited each of the Saints' top two running backs, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, to 38 yards rushing.
Most of the Colts players acknowledge it was a good start. Most also realize it was only one game.
But it could set the tone for the season if they keep playing aggressively.
``It's important for us to fly around, get to the football and make plays in the open field,'' middle linebacker Gary Brackett said. ``I think we're a totally different defense than we were last year.''
Tennessee should test the Colts in different ways.
Aside from Young's dual talents, running and throwing, the Colts face Chris Brown, who rushed for a career-high 175 yards - a higher total than his entire 2006 season, and LenDale White, a bruising back who is expected to play a more significant role in his second NFL season.
Plus, the Colts cannot rely on crowd noise or the emotional spirit they had after unfurling their Super Bowl championship banner last week.
Instead, they'll have to find other motivational tools on the road.
Last year, Indy split its two meetings with the Titans, escaping with a 14-13 victory and home and then watching helplessly as Rob Bironas made a 60-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give the Titans a 20-17 victory in Nashville.
If that's not enough to get the adrenaline pumping, there's always this: Tennessee (1-0) rushed for 433 yards in those two games and Young was never sacked while accounting for nearly one-fourth of the yards, 121.
``He's a different beast back there,'' said Freeney, a former league sacks champion.
So how do the Colts defend Young?
Coach Tony Dungy believes the answer lies in the formula that helped them overwhelm New Orleans - speed, precision and helping the offense build a lead.
``I think you have to execute on offense and make enough plays on defense to get them out of what they do,'' Dungy said.
Indianapolis may also be without one of its key starters, outside linebacker Freddy Keiaho.
Keiaho, who had seven tackles and an interception in his starting debut against New Orleans, said he played all but the first series without the use of his right arm. Keiaho was diagnosed this week with a dislocated elbow, and Keiaho and Dungy both said he could play Sunday if he can tolerate the pain.
Keiaho has missed both of the team's practices this week.
If Keiaho cannot play, Tyjuan Hagler, who has never started a game and has only played in 10 career games, would be the likely replacement.
``If Freddy can't go, I'm sure Tyjuan will step in and do a good job,'' Brackett said.
With or without Keiaho, though, the Colts know what they must do.
``All it is is tackling,'' defensive tackle Raheem Brock said. ``We're much more aggressive, much more physical. But we've got to do it every week.''