INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano ditched his usually upbeat routine Sunday. Instead, he was angry, terse and he even cursed.
After the Indianapolis Colts coach watched St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin ravage his defense and punt coverage team for 310 combined yards and three long touchdowns in the Rams' 38-8 rout Sunday, Pagano succinctly summed up the lost afternoon.
"We got our butts kicked," he said.
This was not just another loss for the AFC South leaders.
It was the second straight game that Indianapolis (6-3) was completely ineffective on offense with receiver Reggie Wayne out with a season-ending knee injury.
And this time, the defense wasn't much better. Austin made the Colts look silly on TD catches of 57 and 81 yards — the two longest pass plays of Kellen Clemens' eight-year NFL career.
Austin also scored on a 98-yard punt return when most of the Colts seemingly stopped, waiting for the kick to be downed. He snatched the bouncing ball and raced down the sideline for a touchdown, all part of Indy's worst home loss since a 31-0 shellacking by San Diego in November 1993.
The Colts still have a two-game lead over Tennessee, thanks to Jacksonville's surprise win, and Indy can increase it with a win Thursday night in Nashville.
"You want to get back out there and get that taste out of your mouth," said quarterback Andrew Luck, who has never lost two in a row in the NFL. "We need to get back on the field and right our wrongs. Absolve our sins, if you will."
Nobody did more against Indy this season — or any time recently -- than Austin, who returned four punts for 145 yards and scored on touchdown passes of 57 and 81 yards, his only two catches of the day. He also returned one kickoff for 27 yards.
Austin's one-man show started when he backed up and waved off teammates as Pat McAfee's punt sailed deep into Rams territory. But as the Colts moved into position to down the bouncing ball, Austin made the dangerous grab and took off.
Even Rams coach Jeff Fisher couldn't believe it.
"I went from saying, 'Get away, get away, get away,' to 'Go, go, go!'" Fisher said.
Austin later caught a short pass on a drag route over the middle, turned upfield and avoided two defenders with an inside cut for the 81-yard score. That made it 35-0 — too big a deficit even for Luck to overcome.
The Colts just couldn't get a handle on the 5-foot-8, 176-pound receiver who was a first-round draft pick.
"I've been patient for eight weeks and, hopefully, it's my time right now," Austin said. "I knew the day was going to come. It was just me being patient and me being true to myself and to keep working. I'm just glad that I had an opportunity."
Clemens went 9 of 16 for 247 yards with two scores and no interceptions. His previous longest pass in the NFL was 56 yards in 2007 with the Jets.
The defense was good right from the start, too, opening the game with a strip-sack from Robert Quinn. Chris Long scooped up the loose ball and returned it 45 yards for a score. Until scoring their only touchdown, late in the third quarter, Indy had just 181 yards in offense.
Luck was sacked three times and the Rams picked off four passes — three of them from Luck — to win for the first time since Sam Bradford went down with a season-ending knee injury Oct. 20.
Luck finished 29 of 47 for 353 yards with one TD, though most of that came after the Colts dug themselves into a 38-0 deficit. Indy ran 14 times for a measly 18 yards, 1.3 yards per carry. The defense couldn't get a handle on Austin or his teammates, resulting in Indy's worst loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Robert Mathis did have two sacks to retain the league lead (13½).
The loudest cheers, and most tears, came during a halftime ceremony when Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Inocencio surprised his family by stepping out of an SUV in one of the end zones at halftime. His wife, Christin, and children, Dominique and David, ran toward him to give him a hug, drawing both cheers and tears. Inocencio had been serving in Afghanistan.
NOTES: Mathis also broke the franchise record for mutli-sack games in a season (six) and has a new single-season career-high, too. ... The Rams played without starting right guard Harvey Dahl (knee) and second tight end Lance Kendricks (broken finger) and lost linebacker James Laurinaitis late in the game with a head laceration. ... Indy had won two straight overall and five straight over NFC opponents before Sunday. ... Indy, which had only six turnovers all year, had four Sunday. ... It was the Rams' first regular-season trip to Lucas Oil Stadium.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org