INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts’ defensive turnaround this season has been so impressive, it’s no longer a surprise when they stop an opponent. The only astonishment now is when they falter. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We were definitely shocked,” linebacker Cato June said. “We want to keep them to no points, and I don’t care if it’s the best offense in the league. We can’t give up 17 points in the first quarter. We have to go back and look at what we did wrong.” It shouldn’t take much of a review. After the early scores — the first time all season the Colts (6-0) allowed a touchdown in the first three quarters of a game — the defense dominated, as usual. June, who leads the NFL with five interceptions, had 11 tackles and picked off two passes that led to touchdowns in the 45-28 victory. Defensive end Robert Mathis had one sack and forced a fumble and leads the league with seven sacks. Defensive end Dwight Freeney, who led the NFL in sacks last year, forced another fumble. Cornerback Nick Harper had one interception and recovered one fumble. All season long, the hard hits by the defense have led to scoring opportunities for the offense and Peyton Manning. One of his scoring passes Monday night went to Marvin Harrison, giving the duo an NFL record 86 touchdown passes. “The key so far has been a lot of energy,” coach Tony Dungy said Tuesday. “We’re playing fast, we’re playing at high speed and we’re helping each other out by really hustling.” No wonder something seemed terribly out of kilter Monday night when the St. Louis Rams took an almost effortless 17-0 lead in the first quarter, the first time all season the Indianapolis defense had really been challenged. Edgerrin James also ran for a season-high 143 yards and three touchdowns and took over the AFC lead with 662 yards rushing for the season. “Our offense needed to bail us out, and it was a good thing they did,” Dungy said. “Defensively, we made some plays and got the turnovers, kind of reverted back to how we played last year, when we gave up some big plays and just weren’t real sharp. “But the turnovers and effort saw us through,” he said. The overall improvement on defense doesn’t surprise Dungy. “We felt we had a good feel of what they could do. We thought at some point we were going to gel,” he said. “I’ve been kind of waiting for this for about 3 1/2 years, and it’s starting to come to fruition. Those guys play hard. We have some really, really aggressive guys that are having fun out there.” The fun for Indianapolis really began after St. Louis lost quarterback Marc Bulger, who was bowled over by Colts linebacker David Thornton during the first interception return by June. Backup Jamie Martin had one touchdown pass but threw two more interceptions, and the Colts built their lead to 45-20 before the Rams scored a meaningless TD in the closing minutes. “It’s just that guys were very focused,” Dungy said of the defense. “We knew where a lot of the balls would go, and once we got into a situation where Martin had to throw and try to make some plays … that’s when you generally get the interceptions.” St. Louis’ 28 points fell one short of the total the Colts had allowed in the first five games combined. But their 57 points allowed are still the fewest given up by any team in the league. This week, the Colts play at winless Houston, which has the NFL’s worst offense and has scored a league-low 54 points. “But we can just watch the tape of last year’s game down there when we had to go on a drive to secure the game at the end,” Dungy said. “Our veteran guys will impress on our young guys that we’ve got to go down there and play. “Regardless of who you play, if our goal is to get better this week, it shouldn’t matter what the record of your opponent is.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!