INDIANAPOLIS -- Everything was going so smooth for the Indianapolis Colts defense heading into the playoffs.
They forced eight turnovers and recorded 11 sacks during their three-game winning streak to close out the regular season. They were actually playing better than the offense.
But then it happened.
The defense crawled into the fetal position on the biggest stage when every play, every tackle means something. They failed to step up to the challenge and were thoroughly embarrassed in playoff games against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
The defense gave up 87 points, 932 yards in the two games and the Chiefs and Patriots were 20-of-34 on third down. The Chiefs didn't even have their best offensive weapon, running back Jamaal Charles, after their first series.
Those are horrendous numbers, especially when coach Chuck Pagano is considered a defensive coach.
"Everyone on the defensive side of the football is -- obviously it's not the level of play and any of those guys or coaches and all of us expect," Pagano said. "We've got to play better, so we'll go to work and fix some things."
The defense has no excuse for being as atrocious as it was in the final two games. They weren't the ones missing five starters like the offense. Cornerback Greg Toler was the only one missing against Kansas City and New England. I know Toler played against the Chiefs, but let's be real, he really wasn't out there.
The Colts spent the week leading up to the Patriots game talking about how they needed to stop New England's running game.
The Patriots ran for 234 yards and set a franchise record with six rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Brady didn't even have to throw a touchdown pass for the Patriots to win.
"We've got work to do," linebacker Robert Mathis said. "We didn't reach our goal and we've got work to do."
There will be changes on the defense in the offseason. They had too many lapses to bring the same personnel back. Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky have to put a better product on the field next season.
The Colts finished 20th in the league in total yards allowed, 13th in passing yards allowed and 26th in rushing yards.