Keys to the Game: Indianapolis

Posted Nov 10, 2013

The Rams travel to Indianapolis (6-2) this week, in search of their fourth win of the season. This will be the Rams’ first visit to Indianapolis since 2005, a 45-28 Colts victory. The Rams trail the all-time series against Indianapolis 17-23-2. Here are three keys to observe on Sunday.

Limiting T.Y. Hilton

With Reggie Wayne lost for the season with a torn ACL, Hilton represents the Colts’ primary big-play threat. Last week in the Colts’ come-from-behind, 27-24 win over Houston, Hilton registered his third 100-yard receiving game of the season with 121 yards on seven catches, and established a season-best with three touchdowns, all in the second half. The loss of Wayne does cut into depth of the Colts’ receiving corps a bit, but Hilton has certainly limited the sting of losing Wayne in the short term.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re aware of him and what’s going on with him at all times because he’s the go-to guy,” Rams defensive coordinator Tim Walton said. “He’s the guy that, he was making catches even when (WR) Reggie (Wayne) was there, but now he’s really been the go-to guy. They’re moving him around, putting him in different spots on the field so you can’t just zero in on him and know exactly where he’s going to be in line. And like I said, the guy’s crafty, so he’s definitely a threat.”

Win the Ground Battle

Highlighting the Rams’ run defense has been a common theme in recent weeks, as it has served as a relatively accurate barometer in determining the outcome of the game, save for the team’s Week 8 loss to Seattle, when they lost 14-9 despite holding the Seahawks to just 44 yards on the ground. Following a week in which the defensive unit took a bit of a step backward against Tennessee, it looks to regain traction against a balanced Colts offense.

“Everyone has got to be on the same page,” LB James Laurinaitis said. “We’ve got to have good gap integrity, and we haven’t had that consistent enough all year. Everyone’s taken turns at it, everyone’s taking turns at not being in our gaps. When you do that in this league…people are going to get good six, seven, eight-yard runs sometimes when you are in your gap. You give them a free lane to run through, that’s when big plays happen.”

Rams’ Receivers vs. Colts Secondary

The Rams’ receiving unit is set to face one of the stingiest secondaries it will see this year. Indianapolis, led by safeties Antoine Bethea and LaRon Landry, has held opponents to just a 58.7 percent completion rate, which ranks sixth-lowest in the NFL. They have, however, shown an occasional vulnerability to the big play, having allowed touchdown passes of 25 yards or longer in three of their past four games. The Rams have typically looked in the direction of WR Chris Givens as the team’s prominent downfield threat, though rookie Tavon Austin and second-year wideout Brian Quick also possess big-play ability.