With Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense never finding its rhythm, they leaned on their defense and special teams to edge the previously unbeaten Chiefs 19-9 on Sunday. Adam Vinatieri converted on all four of his field-goal attempts, Mike Hart pounded in the lone touchdown for either teams from 11 yards out on a late TD run and the Colts' red-zone defense stood tall once again, allowing the Chiefs only a field goal in two trips inside the 20.
The PFW Spin
After seeing Manning bail out his defense on countless occasions over the years, it was a welcome sight for Colts fans to see the defense pick up the offense on Sunday. With Manning looking out of sync against a Chiefs defense that consistently dropped eight into coverage, the Colts' defense played inspired, physical football against a very good Kansas City team — that's right, folks, after watching this game, it is safe to say the Chiefs are not a fluke. They are a talented and well-coached team that should remain very much in the thick of the AFC West race this season.
Picking up the slack for Melvin Bullitt, who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury last week, Antoine Bethea was the star of the afternoon for the Colts. He was extremely active, recording seven tackles, but even more importantly, he brought a physical presence that has been missing at times this season. His hit on Jamaal Charles, which resulted in the first fumble the Chiefs have lost this season, with the Chiefs driving in Colts' territory with a little more than one minute remaining in the first half, was a game changer, preserving a 6-0 lead for the Colts.
Kansas City would end up getting the ball back with 18 seconds left in the half and scored a field goal on the half's final play — thanks to a dumb penalty on a late hit out of bounds by Kelvin Hayden — but keeping the Chiefs from taking the lead before half was a huge momentum swing.
After watching RBs Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew have their way with the Colts in their two losses, it was not unreasonable to think that this game could spell trouble for Indy. But the defense learned from its mistakes, playing more disciplined and cohesive, and tackling much, much better, and they were able to limit the damage of the Chiefs' playmakers. Charles finished with 87 yards on 16 carries, but Thomas Jones was held to 19 yards on eight carries.
Sure, Dwayne Bowe's dropped touchdown late in the third quarter and head coach Todd Haley's two crucial decisions that backfired — beginning the game with a failed onside kick and going for it on 4th-and-2 at the Colts' eight-yard line on the Chiefs' first possession — assisted the Colts greatly, but a bit of luck is necessary during a long season, and the Colts proving to Manning that he doesn't have to be Superman every single week makes this a great win.
Next Sunday presents another difficult challenge for the Colts — they travel to face a Redskins team that just earned a huge overtime victory over the Packers. Coordinator Jim Haslett has his defense playing very well, and with the possibility of the invaluable Joseph Addai, who departed early against the Chiefs with an apparent neck or shoulder injury, being unavailable, and backup RB Donald Brown still hurting, there is a chance that the Colts' offense will have to lean on the defense again.