By TOM JAMES
TERRE HAUTE TRIBUNE-STAR
Behind a workmanlike performance on both sides of the ball, the Indianapolis Colts posted an impressive 27-6 pre-season win over the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.
Indianapolis, 2-1, will close out the pre-season schedule Thursday night at Cincinnati.
The Colts took a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Placekicker Adam Vinatieri’s 32-yard field goal midway through the first quarter and a 3-yard swing pass from quarterback Andrew Luck to fullback Stanley Havili accounted for all of the home team’s first half scoring.
Luck played into the third quarter before giving way to primary backup Matt Hasselbeck. The Colts sign called was sharp for most of the first half, completing 14-of-23 passes for 141 yards and a TD. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne had seven receptions for 79 yards over the first two quarters.
The Colts’ defense limited Cleveland 104 total yards and four first downs in the first half. The Browns punted four times and coughed up the ball once after cornerback Greg Toler forced and then recovered a fumble.
A late offensive possession by Indianapolis in the second quarter came to an abrupt end when Luck’s pass went off the fingers of Havili and was intercepted.
“(The Indianapolis first-team defense did) a great job,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “We gave up a few plays here and there. But we played pretty consistently.”
Pagano also came away happy with the Colts’ first-line offense. Indianapolis had 15 first downs and 203 yards in total offense in the first half.
“Guys were making plays. It was a little disappointing before the half. We had a two-minute drill and we had a chance to get more points. But overall it was a good performance,” he said.
Indianapolis pushed its lead to 17-0 on its first offensive possession of the third quarter, marching 47-yards in five plays. Luck connected with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on an eight-yard touchdown pass with 11:12 remaining in the quarter.
Luck left the game after the Colts' first possession of the third quarter. He ended the night by completing 16-of-25 passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also scrambled four times for an additional 20 yards.
The scoring drive was set up after a 38-yard punt return by backup cornerback Marshay Green. Green also nearly came up with an interception later in the quarter.
Cleveland's Shayne Graham knocked through a 50-yard field goal with 7:16 left in the third quarter. Vinatieri countered with his second field goal of the night, this one from 25-yards out, late in the quarter.
Graham's 44-yard field goal with 4:33 left in the game made it 20-6. But 11 seconds later, after the Browns recovered an on-sides kickoff, reserve safety Larry Asante picked off a Brian Hoyer pass and returned it 48 yards to close out the Indianapolis scoring.
Outside linebacker Caesar Rayford, the Colts' 27-year old rookie, recorded two more sacks. He has five total sacks during the pre-season, at least one sack in all three of Indianapolis' exhibition
games. Rayford is a veteran of the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues.
Starting left offensive tackle Anthony Castanzo left the game early in the first quarter with a sprained right knee. He did not return. Wide receiver Nathan Palmer also incurred a sprained knee in the fourth
quarter. He did not return. Sitting out the game were wide receiver Maurice Williams, wide receiver
LaVon Brazill, cornerback Teddy Williams, safety Joe Lefeged, safety John Boyett, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, inside linebacker Josh McNary, inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, center Khaled Holmes, outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury, offensive guard Mike McGlynn, tight end Coby Fleener, tight end Dwayne Allen, and defensive end Fili Moala.