Colts’ defense must get its act together

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Robert Mathis #98, Billy Winn #99 and D'Qwell Jackson #52 of the Indianapolis Colts wait for a play during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 13, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Colts 51-16. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 18, 2015) – D’Qwell Jackson has witnessed a lot during an NFL career that’s spanned 10 seasons and two cities. And, truth be told, there have been many more canyons than peaks.

Remember, the veteran linebacker spent his first eight seasons in the NFL’s wasteland, aka Cleveland.

But the performance by the Colts’ defense in consecutive 35-point thrashings at the hands of Pittsburgh and Jacksonville has forced Jackson to rub his eyes, hoping it’s all been an illusion.

But no. Reality bites.

For historical perspective, consider a team has lost back-to-back games by at least 35 points only five times since the NFL’s 1970 merger. That list includes the Colts twice: the past two weeks, and in 1978.

The combined 96 points allowed the last two weeks, meanwhile, are the most in consecutive games in franchise history.

“That’s the most I’ve been involved with, even in Cleveland,’’ said Jackson, who saw the Browns post a 41-87 record during his eight seasons. “That’s never happened.”

“I’m not used to that by any means.’’

In defense of the defense, it must be noted the cumulative point total includes a pair of Pat McAfee punts returned for touchdowns.

Jackson would have nothing of that.

“Even on the punts,’’ he said, “there are a lot of defensive players out there (on coverage teams). They have a role some way, somehow.”

“As a defense, do something positive.’’

The defense has had its moments, and actually kept the games against the Steelers and Jaguars close early before being overwhelmed.

But there’s no defending a unit that yielded 522 total yards to Pittsburgh. Or looked on as the Jaguars scored touchdowns on all five of their second-half possessions. Or has allowed the Steelers and Jaguars to score a touchdown or field goal on 13 of their 25 possessions.

“We can’t win games like that,’’ said Jackson. “Regardless what happened and how they scored, when we take the field we’ve got to force teams to settle for a field goal or not let them down there.”

“The past two games, you can’t give up close to 90 points. Not at this time of the year.’’

Jackson is mounting a serious bid for a second straight Pro Bowl selection. He’s the NFL’s leading tackler with 129, according to league stats. He also has three sacks and returned an interception 6 yards for a touchdown.

To be so ineffective as a group, Jackson said, is unacceptable. It’s a personal affront.

“Absolutely,’’ Jackson said. “We take extreme pride in what we do. Regardless of what happens or why it happens, we can’t be giving up points like that.”

“You definitely take it personally. Everybody should.’’

Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams does. Despite missing two games with an ankle injury, he’s tied for third in the league with five interceptions.

Angry? Embarrassed?

“You hear it in my voice, don’t you?’’ Adams asked. “It’s frustrating because we are a better team than what we displayed.”

“I’m anxious to get back on the field on Sunday and I know the rest of the squad is. We can do better but, you know, win.’’

Winning, he stressed, is the cure to what’s ailing the Colts.

“The food will taste better,’’ Adams said with a smile. “I’ll come in here with a better attitude. I’ll give you a hug next time.”

“I’ll give out Christmas gifts, too, but I’m not doing that right now because I’m angry and we didn’t win. When we win, that does cure everything.’’

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