You could make a case that the Indianapolis Colts' defense has been better than their offense this season.
If I had said that entering the season, you would have called me crazy (at least those of you who were being nice). But with the offense struggling with inconsistency, turnovers, and injuries, the defense has at least remained solid - not spectacular, but better than their numbers might indicate (in part because of the offensive turnovers).
On Sunday, the Colts' defense stepped up in a big way in helping the Colts overcome a deficit against the Falcons to win 24-21. The offense turned the football over three times - and the defense allowed zero points off of those turnovers. It wasn't a perfect day by any means - they gave up three scoring drives of 80+ yards, after all - but they made the plays when it counted. The Falcons didn't score a single point on any of their final seven drives in the game, including five in the fourth quarter. The Colts' defense forced four turnovers on the day, including the game-tying pick-six by D'Qwell Jackson.
With the offense racking up just 276 yards of offense and two touchdowns to go with three turnovers, the defense kept them in the game against a potent offense.
"It's been incredible," head coach Chuck Pagano said of his defense following the win. "All the credit goes to Greg Manusky, and those assistants and those players. When you start how we started and they go and miss a field goal, then there's another turnover, and they get no points that's huge, but we have got to be able to move the chains offensively. We have got to generate some first downs. We can't dig ourselves a hole like we did today, but the defense bailed us out. They did a phenomenal job."
On the final seven drives of the game, the Colts allowed just 67 yards on 26 plays (2.6 yards per play) and forced three turnovers and four punts. For a team who's offense was struggling and that entered the fourth quarter trailing, that's as much as you could possibly ask for.
There were a lot of unsung heroes for the defense. There was D'Qwell Jackson, playing one of the best games he's played, picking off Matt Ryan for a touchdown, sacking Ryan, and recovering a fumble - all in the fourth quarter. There was Jerrell Freeman, making several nice stops in the run game. There was Dwight Lowery, doing his best Mike Adams impersonation with a diving interception in the end zone in the first quarter. There was Clayton Geathers, making his first career start and making some big plays. There was Greg Toler, coming up with some nice plays down the stretch. There was Coby Fleener, notching his first career interception (ok, I kid on that last one... kinda).
You get the idea: this was a nice defensive effort by the Colts, one that not only kept them in the game but in many ways won it for them. After seeing the Colts' offense bail out the defense so many times in recent years, it was nice to finally see the opposite true on Sunday as the team got a huge win behind their defense.