Michael Conroy
October 20, 2014
Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vincent Rey (57) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck is becoming a big fan of the Indianapolis Colts' defense.

He likes seeing turnovers and sacks. He enjoys watching the big hits. And, of course, he likes getting help if the Colts keep winning.

On a day Luck threw two more touchdown passes and topped the 300-yard mark again, he gladly took a backseat to an emerging defense that pitched in with its first shutout in nearly six years - 27-0 over Cincinnati on Sunday.

''You don't feel like you have to do too much when you're playing with a defense like that,'' Luck said. ''They do and have done a heck of a job all year.''

Indy's offense has done its part, too, during a five-game winning streak.

On Sunday, the Colts piled up 506 yards and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes as Luck went 27 of 42 for 344 yards. Luck, who has six 300-yard games this season, tied Peyton Manning's franchise record of five straight 300-yard days.

T.Y. Hilton caught seven passes for 107 yards, his second straight 100-yard game. Reggie Wayne had four catches for 15 yards and became the ninth player to reach the 14,000-yard mark. Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson combined for 129 of the Colts' season-high 171 yards rushing. Bradshaw scored on a 1-yard run and a 10-yard TD catch.

The biggest difference for Indianapolis (5-2) has been the defense.

Cincinnati (3-2-1), winless since starting 3-0, managed only 135 total yards and eight first downs. The Bengals gave up a season-high three sacks after yielding only two in the first five games. Plus, they ran only eight plays in Colts' territory as Cincinnati endured its first shutout since the final game of the 2009 season.

While it might have been an ugly blowout to fans, Luck thought it was a thing of beauty.

''I'm just like a fan watching the game, I might as well just be a fan when our defense is out there,'' he said. ''I'm not sure what the calls are and everything, but they do a heck of a job.''

Here are some more things to take away from Sunday's game.

BANGED UP BENGALS: Cincinnati's recent struggles could be traced to an injury flurry that only got worse this weekend. Receiver A.J. Green missed his second straight game because of a toe injury. The Bengals also spent most of the day without their three starting linebackers: Emmanuel Lamur and Rey Maualuga were both deactivated, and Vontaze Burfict left in the first half with a cervical sprain. Cincinnati also finished the game without cornerback Leon Hall because of a lower back strain.

THE STREAK: Indy has turned its season around with the longest regular-season winning streak of the Luck era. The five-game winning streak is the Colts' longest since an NFL-record, 23-game run in 2008 and 2009 ended after Manning was pulled in the second half of a loss to the Jets.

HITTING THE SKIDS: Cincinnati's offense will take the brunt of the blame for Sunday's debacle. But the usually strong defense hasn't been helping lately. The Bengals have allowed 107 points and 1,442 yards in the past three games, averages of 35.7 points and 480.7 yards. Coach Marvin Lewis knows those numbers must improve if the Bengals are going to pull out of this tailspin.

FIRST ON THIRD: The most notable stat for the Colts' defense might be defensive third-down conversion percentage. Indy cut its league-leading percentage of 29.7 to 26.0 on Sunday after allowing just one third-down conversion for the fourth straight week.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS: Indianapolis has victories over the AFC North's top two teams, Baltimore and Cincinnati, and all three of its division opponents. That could have a major impact on tiebreakers come playoff time. San Diego and Denver were the only AFC teams with fewer losses (zero) than the Colts (one) in conference play entering the weekend.

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