"They've been opportunistic, they've been getting their hands on balls," Luck said. "They were a pain in the butt to go against in practice, and it's fun to see them play this way out here."
Over the last two weeks, Indy has not allowed a touchdown. Before leaving early in the third quarter Saturday, the starting defense limited Cleveland (2-1) to four first downs and just three plays in Colts territory, one of those being a punt. They forced two turnovers, including Larry Asante's late 48-yard interception return for a score, and harassed Browns quarterbacks all night long.
Cleveland never even made it into the red zone.
Of course in that game, most of Indy's starters exited before the end of the first quarter.
The result: Weeden went 12 of 25 for 105 yards just four days after coach Rob Chudzinski chose him as the starter for the regular season.
"We can learn a lot of things from this game. A game like this is good, because you can get an assessment of where you're at," Chudzinski said. "They played very well on defense, and by the same token, against good football teams, playoff-caliber teams, you just can't make mistakes."
Luck, meanwhile, had no trouble.
He opened the game by taking Indy on a 46-yard drive to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 32-yard field goal, and two series later, capped a 66-yard drive by finding fullback Stanley Havili for a 3-yard TD pass to make it 10-0 midway and hooked up with a wide-open T.Y. Hilton for an 8-yard TD catch to make it 17-0.
Cleveland futilely played catch-up the rest of the night, and scoring ended, fittingly, on Asante's interception return.
"They had played two really good football games and they looked impressive running the football, and Brandon Weeden had thrown the football," Pagano said. "It's a confidence builder, a big psychological boost for our guys."
Notes: Pagano said Castonzo had a sprained medial collateral ligament and will undergo an MRI. Indy also lost receiver Nathan Palmer with a sprained knee late in the game, and Palmer also will have an MRI. ... The Browns lost rookie defensive back Josh Aubrey (hand) and Jamoris Slaughter (groin) in the second half. ... Reggie Wayne caught seven passes for 79 yards for Indy. ... Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer were a combined 10 for 18 for 123 yards against Colts backups. ... NFL referee Tony Corrente made his first appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium since last November's foul-mouthed tirade, part of which made it onto the television broadcast.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press