CHICAGO — The Indianapolis Colts accomplished what they set out last week to do — improve their running game. Now they want to keep running.
The Colts ran for a season-high 148 yards in a 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, led mostly by two rookies — Vick Ballard and Andrew Luck.
"It's the fruit of our hard labor," Ballard said Monday. "Whenever you suffer a loss you want to get your edge back. We went back to the basics and figured out what we needed to do to get the win."
Ballard had the opportunity with running back Donald Brown out for the second straight week with an injured knee. On 20 carries, Ballard ran for 84 yards, giving interim head coach Bruce Arians a little more confidence in the running game.
"When he came here I thought he had that in him, it was nice to see that come out," Arians said. "He's a good, solid back and I think that the future is bright for him and I just want to stack those weeks together now."
For Luck, he says the amount of confidence he has in the running game doesn't change, but he's happy that Ballard is getting some recognition for his game.
Ballard said the way to make to way to keep offensive balance for the entire time is simply by getting better at detail and the small things.
"Any football team wants to have a balanced offense," Ballard said. "Whenever you can have a good running game it obviously opens up the passing game."
On Sunday, the Colts passed for 186 yards.
Once Brown returns, the Colts will have a deeper bench to hand the ball to. That could happen sooner than later. Arians said there's a chance Brown could return this week.
"It will be close this week along with about four or five other guys," Arians said. "I'm anxious to see Wednesday who is able to go and who's not."
Now the question is, when Brown returns, what kind of threat can Indy be running the ball?
"I guess we'll have to wait and see," Ballard said. "However they use us, whoever's in, I'm sure, will get the job done."
Delone Carter ran for 41 yards against the Browns.
"It was a great total offensive effort in running the football," Luck said. "The running backs were running well and it really helped the offense."
Ballard also caught a pass for 19 yards in the first quarter to put the Colts at the five-yard line and set Indy up for their first score — from Luck, who ran three yards for the touchdown. It was the first of two touchdown runs by the overall No. 1 pick and someone the Colts presumably do not want running all that often. He ran five yards midway through the second quarter to give the Colts a 14-6 lead and finished with 12 yards on three carries.
Luck was only the third quarterback in Colts franchise history to run for two touchdowns in a single game. Ricky Turner and Bert Jones are the other two.
The Colts (3-3) play at Tennessee (3-4) on Sunday.