INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano often has used a phrase to the effect of the club’s enemy always being itself.
This past Sunday, Indianapolis won its eighth AFC South title, but did so in an uncommon way – by seeing its nearest competitor, Tennessee, lose just hours after the Colts fell themselves.
The not-preferred style of clinching and three losses in the last five games have caused some observers to question if the Colts can gain momentum for the approaching playoffs.
“(Laughs) It’s in this room. The enemy is always us, period, but it’s no bigger now than it was before,” said Redding. “It’s all us. We control our own destiny as far as what we do from here on out, catching fire, doing the good things, executing well, winning these last three, going into the post-season strong, confident, on a roll, not limping into it. That’s the mindset.”
It has been a season full of twists and turns with victories over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver (a combined 31-8), but losses by 30 and 29 points and a recent six-game stretch where Indianapolis has held a first-half lead but once while being out-scored, 114-24.
The 42-28 loss last Sunday at 8-4 Cincinnati was one of those games where the Colts trailed nearly from the outset, while allowing 155 rushing yards and Andy Dalton to hit three touchdowns, throw for 275 yards and compile a 120.5 rating.
There is no time like the present for winning, the same feeling Houston gets by visiting the Colts having lost 11 straight games in 2013 and 11 consecutive times in Indianapolis.
“They’re going to come in and play hard,” said
Indianapolis won in Houston earlier this year by three points after trailing by 18 at the half. The Colts have not lost in the division this year (4-0), and not have swept Houston since 2009.
“It’s a division game, division rival, roster that’s loaded with great talent,” said Chuck Pagano. “Throw the records out. They got a good football team.
“You look at their last six games they’ve played, (and) they’ve lost by a combined total of 28 points. They’re coming here to win a football game. We all know that. We’ll prepare accordingly.”
At Cincinnati, Indianapolis made fewer plays defensively than it had a week earlier at home in beating Tennessee. That day, Indianapolis produced a season-best four takeaways, including three interceptions.
Having weekly consistency has been the club’s issue after a 6-2 start. The comeback win at Houston was one of three the Colts have pulled this season.
“We got a lot of good things going on,” said Pagano. “Now we got to catch the momentum, now we got to catch fire.
“As Robert (Mathis) said, ‘We got to strike the match, catch fire and get the mojo going.’ ”
Said Mathis, “Just do it. You have to make your mind up. We’ve got the pieces in place. We just have to complete the puzzle, that’s all it is. Fundamental football, get back to the basics and just do our jobs.”
Where Mathis typically hits a phrase with an economy of words, Redding is more like evangelistic. Still, they sing from the same football hymnal.
“We have the makeup and pieces to (improve),” said Redding. “As far as catching fire, all I know about is going back to work, just being very detailed on little things.
“That’s what it boils down to – trust and execution. No matter how you cut it or slice it, it’s about trust and execution. As long as we do that, we should be fine.”
COLTS IN PRO BOWL FAN VOTING –
Fan voting will continue online and on web-enabled mobile phones until 6:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 26 by going to www.NFL.com/probowl/ballot. Fans count as one-third of the process, with players and coaches providing the rest of the voting.
NFL ADMITS ERROR – The NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said Tuesday the wrong call was made to reverse the goal-line play at Cincinnati last Sunday involving
“It wasn’t a correct call. We made a mistake,” said Blandino. “There was not enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field. … This should not have been overturned. This should have been Indianapolis’ ball . . . at the one-yard line.” The overturned call disallowed Chapman’s fourth-down tackle, moving Cincinnati’s advantage from 7-0 to 14-0 at halftime.
“Too little, too late. Not crying over spilled milk, lost the game, move on, it’s Houston,” said Robert Mathis.
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: DT-