Colts' defense fails in its first true test

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts defense was looking forward to facing the New Orleans Saints so that they could get a better indication of where they stand.

And how does the unit feel after quarterback Drew Brees led the Saints on touchdown-scoring drives on two of the three series played?

“It was a good test for us,” Colts defensive lineman Art Jones said. “We didn’t play our best defense tonight.”

It was a totally different Colts' defense that took the field Saturday against the Saints vs. the one that played so well against the New York Giants and New York Jets in the first two preseason games.

Brees is obviously a better quarterback than Geno Smith and Eli Manning, but the Colts didn’t do themselves any favors with their poor tackling. Cornerback Vontae Davis and linebackers Bjoern Werner and D’Qwell Jackson spearheaded the missed tackles. Jackson was also beat by All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham on a 38-yard pass play and also got beat by receiver Marques Colston on a 13-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone.

“At some point we were going to face adversity,” Jackson said. “[Saturday] we did.”

The missed tackles led to big plays for the Saints and even when the Colts did force a third-down, they couldn’t make the necessary stops to get off the field. The Saints scored 20 points, gained 288 yards and was 6-of-9 on third down in the first half against the Colts.

“Anytime you go out and give up big plays defensively, you don't tackle well, you don't communicate well, all those type of things, you can't get off the field on third down, against a team like that, give them credit, you're not going to play very well,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We just didn't do the fundamental things. We’re more than capable, and we've seen that. We've got a really good defense. We've got a chance to be a really good defense, but we've got to do the little things. They did the little things better than us. They were fundamentally sound when we weren't.”

The Colts have two weeks to get back on track because things don’t get any easier for them. Their next test comes Sept. 7 against quarterback Peyton Manning in the season opener in Denver.

“It’s great that it happened now,” Jackson said. “We know what we need to do. We know what type of grind it’s going to be from here on out. If we want to reach our goal, and when we’re faced with adversity during the game, we have to be able to respond.”