News From Terre Haute, Indiana

CNHI News Service Originals

January 8, 2007

Colts defense aims for repeat

INDIANAPOLIS — To put it mildly, the national sports media was stunned by the way the Indianapolis Colts defeated Kansas City in last weekend’s AFC wild-card game.

Indianapolis posted a 23-8 win over the Chiefs, limiting running back Larry Johnson — who ran for 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns during the regular season and is widely regarded as the NFL’s second-best running back behind San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson — to 32 yards in 13 carries and allowing only 126 total yards for the game.

The Colts had come into the game with the league’s worst run defense, giving up an average of 173 yards on the ground each time the team took the field in 2006. Now, heading into this week’s AFC divisional playoff game with the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis’ defense will be put to the test and under the microscope once again.

Baltimore’s run game will be paced by Jamal Lewis, who ran for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns this year.

The Colts did a pretty good job of slowing Lewis down a year ago, limiting him to 48 yards in 16 carries en route to a 24-7 win in the 2005 season opener for both teams.

But there’s no doubt that the Colts will have to try to string together two straight weeks of good defense, something that that they weren’t able to do in the final weeks of the regular season this year.

“Every time that you play this game, you have to got to play with a lot of energy and you’ve got to play a lot with a sense of urgency. I think that’s what we did [Saturday against Kansas City]. We played with a lot of energy and obviously playing at home tended to energize us also. I think we were able to play faster and that was the key to us playing, playing fast,” Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ron Meeks said after the win over the Chiefs.

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