INDIANAPOLIS — The dam finally burst Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After weeks of slow starts that somehow never quite spilled over into defeat, the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) found a current they couldn’t outswim and survive.
The St. Louis Rams (4-6) scored 35 points in the first 32 minutes and washed Indianapolis’ modest two-game winning streak away with a shocking 38-8 victory.
“Credit the Rams and their coaching staff and their players, they came to play,” a visibly frustrated Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said in the postgame interview room. “They beat us in every single phase ... we just didn’t do anything. And I take full responsibility as the head football coach, did not have this team ready to play.”
St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin certainly was well-prepared.
The eighth overall pick in April’s draft was approaching bust status with 31 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns through the first nine games of the season. Turns out the Colts’ defense was just what he needed to get on track.
Austin got things rolling with a 98-yard punt return and a 57-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter to help the Rams open a 28-0 halftime lead. Then he slammed the door shut with an 81-yard catch and run for a score just more than a minute into the second half.
The touchdowns came on Austin’s only two offensive touches. The first was on third-and-7, and the second was on third-and-9.
“They moved him around a lot, put him in mismatch situations, using his speed to run away from coverage and stuff,” said cornerback Vontae Davis, who was badly beaten on the first touchdown pass. “They executed today better than we did.”
That was a recurring theme in Indianapolis’ postgame locker room. There was plenty of anger and frustration over the Colts’ own performance. But, to a man, Indianapolis was careful to credit St. Louis’ role in its demise.