The Colts defense has become the NFL?s version of Rodney Dangerfield: It gets no respect.
"We're a hard-hitting team, we play relentlessly," Colts linebacker Clint Session told The Associated Press. "We want to continue to hit you so you remember every time you come this way. That's what we do. It's not just me. It's all about the overall scheme of what we're trying to get across."
Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer have led the defensive transformation. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden says Caldwell and Coyer have allowed the defense to take advantage of their opponents? mistakes.
"Last year, you could say we were more of a bend-but-don't-break defense, but this year, I think we're more of an attack team," Hayden told the AP. "We're taking it to the offense. When they make a bad decision, we take advantage of it."
Critics were skeptical of the Colts? defense heading into the playoffs. The team ranked 14th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and 24th in rushing yards allowed per game in the regular season. Posting mediocre regular-season statistics didn?t help the Colts defense earn any respect.
The team has improved during the playoffs, and has allowed only 20 points combined in its two postseason contests. Saints head coach Sean Payton says the Colts defense deserves more attention.
"I know that the offense gets more attention, and that's just the nature of our league, but they're playing championship-level defense," Payton told the AP. "You watch them create turnovers and get to the football — it's impressive, the tape you watch. You look at how they handled the Jets running attack last week, a team that was No. 1 in the league in rushing the football. They're a tremendous challenge."