After two stifling performances by the run defense, the Colts finally gave a bit of ground. The Browns rushed for a total of 111 yards on 21 total carries, which is a disappointing 5.3 yards per carry average.

In order to bring the performance into focus, we’ll study the run defense with eyes first on runs by the Browns running backs and then on quarterback scrambles. What we will find is that the run defense was still relatively stingy against the running backs — except for a 19 yard touchdown run that includes a blatant hold — and that some of the quarterback runs were caused by game situation and defensive scheme.

This won’t make everyone feel better about the performance, nor should it. But it will help understand what went right and what went wrong and how it impacts the total numbers.

Consider that without Kizer’s 44 net rushing yards on seven carries, the Browns running backs ran 14 times for a total of 67 yards — a 4.8 yards per carry clip. If you remove the 19 yard run Johnson was gifted on the Browns first touchdown, Cleveland’s running backs gained 48 yards on 13 carries — a 3.7 yards per carry clip.

By comparison, the Baltimore Ravens defense allowed 93 rushing yards on 21 carries for 4.4 yard per carry in Week 2. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense only allowed 57 rushing yards on 26 carries for 2.3 yards per carry but Duke Johnson also didn’t get a single carry in week 1.

Either way, the Colts defense played relatively well on traditional runs and somewhere in line with two other respected NFL defenses. Today we’ll see that it was Kizer’s rushing yards — many of them late in the game — that really busted things open.

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