Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebackerErik Walden
(93) and defensive endCory Redding
(90) celebrate a three and out stop on defense against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts defense has turned a corner after a rough start to the season. The Colts gave up 61 points, had just one sack, and forced only one turnover in the first two games of the season.
The defense gave up a big first half in Denver and another against Philadelphia in the second half during week two. Due to the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks along with losing the 2013 NFL sacks leader for the season, Robert Mathis, it looked like it could be a long season for the defense.
After the first two games, the defense has been terrific providing pressure on quarterbacks. The Colts defense now has 15 sacks in their last four games. They were tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks before the Thursday night game. They are now tied for first in sacks but have played one extra game than all other teams.
Indianapolis held the Texans to one-of-eight on third-down conversions. That is the third straight week the defense has kept an opponent to a single third-down conversion. Opponents are 3-of-28 on third-down during that stretch. The Colts are second in the NFL in third-down conversions allowed at 32.1-percent.
A week after Baltimore scored 38 points on a good Carolina defense, the Colts defense allowed 13 points, sacked Joe Flacco four times, and the Ravens had three turnovers. The defense closed that game when cornerback Greg Toler deflected a pass on fourth-and-3 with 32 seconds left in the game.
Houston did score 28 points but most of that was not on the defense. The first touchdown was scored after the defense held Houston to a field goal but a special teams penalty gave the Texans a first down and eventually scored a touchdown. Another touchdown was due to a short field after an Indianapolis turnover. The final Houston score came on a JJ Watt fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
When the defense was needed the most they responded with two timely turnovers. Leading by only five, Vontae Davis forced a fumble on Andre Johnson that was recovered by Mike Adams. Bjoern Werner finished the game off with a strip sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Werner has come on strong after a slow start, having all three of his sacks the past two games. Werner, D’Qwell Jackson, and Erik Walden lead the team in sacks with three each. Mike Adams has also been a pleasant surprise with five passes defended, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
The secondary has played well most of the season. If the Colts can continue to put pressure on quarterbacks like they have the past four games they should have a good season. Staying in the top five in sacks would be a tremendous feat after losing their best pass rusher for the season in Mathis.