Indy `D' provides boost to 3-0 start

Colts 13 Browns 6

NFL Gameday

Week Three

September 26, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning is still setting records, but the Indianapolis Colts' ground game and defense are producing the wins.

Edgerrin James topped 100 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season yesterday, while the Colts used another strong defensive effort and two time-consuming drives in the second half to hold off the Cleveland Browns, 13-6.

"There's been times where we've been 2-1 and scoring a lot of points and everybody says, `What's wrong with the defense?' " Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "I think when our offense gets into situations when we have to score and play up-tempo, I'm pretty confident we'll be able to score."

Indianapolis (3-0) followed this year's standard formula to win a record seventh straight at the RCA Dome.

With the Browns (1-2) defending the deep pass, Manning let James grind it out. He carried 27 times for 108 yards, and the Colts' suddenly impressive defense took care of the rest by pressuring Trent Dilfer and shutting down the Browns' running game.

Indianapolis has allowed 16 points in its first three games, the best start in franchise history. The previous best was in 1971, when they allowing 17 points before posting a shutout in Week 4. The Colts are the sixth team since World War II to hold the first three opponents to single digits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only the 1962 Green Bay Packers did it in the first four games.

"They're making you throw the ball in front of them and using their speed to make the plays," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "They're fast."

For the third straight week, an opposing defense kept Manning and the Colts' high-scoring offense from getting in sync.

Manning was 19-for-23 for 228 yards with one interception against his old nemesis, Crennel, who had won six straight against Manning since 2001 as Patriots defensive coordinator.

Still, Manning did enough to top 30,000 yards passing in his 115th game. Miami's Dan Marino did it in 114 games.

Dilfer finished 22-for-29 for 208 yards.

Reuben Droughns carried 22 times for 76 yards, and after Cleveland and Indianapolis entered the game as the league's only teams that hadn't allowed a sack, the Browns allowed four in the first half. Last year's sacks champion Dwight Freeney had three.

Cleveland 0 3 0 3 - 6

Indianapolis 7 3 3 0 - 13

First quarter Ind-James 2 run (Vanderjagt kick), 4:11.

Second quarter Cle-FG Dawson 40, 13:13. Ind-FG Vanderjagt 20, 3:14.

Third quarter Ind-FG Vanderjagt 23, 7:07.

Fourth quarter Cle-FG Dawson 22, 14:09. A-57,127.

.......................................Cle Ind

First downs 14 20

Total Net Yards 263 339

Rushes-yards 23-75 33-111

Passing 188 228

Punt Returns 1-12 2-10

Kickoff Returns 4-61 3-61

Interceptions Ret. 1-0 0-0

Comp-Att-Int 22-29-0 19-23-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 4-20 0-0

Punts 5-41.8 3-40.0

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards 7-62 3-15

Time of Possession 28:22 31:38

Rushing-Cleveland, Droughns 22-76, Green 1-(minus 1). Indianapolis, James 27-108, Carthon 3-6, Manning 3-(minus 3).

Passing-Cleveland, Dilfer 22-29-0-208. Indianapolis, Manning 19-23-1-228.

Receiving-Cleveland, Bryant 7-75, Edwards 4-43, Droughns 3-32, F.Jackson 2-29, Heiden 2-12, Suggs 2-7, Northcutt 1-7, Green 1-3. Indianapolis, Wayne 6-97, Harrison 6-53, James 2-29, Fletcher 2-26, Clark 2-14, Stokley 1-9. Missed field goals-None.

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