INDIANAPOLIS – The 17th seven-day cycle for the Colts is almost completed, and the Wild Card playoff game with Baltimore is less than 48 hours away.
Chuck Pagano says the message to his team – 25 players with playoff experience, 28 without – is the same.
“Just stick with the process,” said Pagano. “It’s another week. We know the stakes are higher. The energy, the excitement and all that stuff is higher. Don’t get caught up in all that stuff. Do what you’ve been doing for the last 16 weeks, and it will be good enough.”
The Colts and Ravens are meeting for the third time in seven post-seasons. Baltimore has made the playoffs five straight years. The Colts return after a one-year absence, but with a dramatically different team than the core of one that went nine straight times from 2002-10.
The Colts only have 17 returnees from 2011, while 33 players have no more than three years in the league. Still, the Colts won five of their last six and after an 0-2 start on the road, they went 4-2 away from home. Sunday provides another test.
“It’s business as usual,” said Pagano. “We have to strap it on, buckle up, put the mouthpiece in and play football. We have a game to play, a game where we’re going to do everything we possibly can to try to win.”
“The process is the details, the little things,” said Redding. “It’s not really getting too high, getting too low, just staying even-keeled, just doing what you’re supposed to do, doing your job.
That’s working the process. That’s what we talked about all year. B.A. (Bruce Arians) echoed it when he was the coach. That’s what we done throughout the whole team.
“I believe we’re ready. We’ve put in the work. We’re prepared. We’ve played tough games, fought and climbed our way out of deep holes during the season. We’re reaping the benefits now.”
Baltimore is the only NFL team to win playoff games in each of the last four years. Last year, the Ravens were de-railed in the closing seconds of the AFC Championship game. Pagano still sees a formidable bunch.
“The roster is loaded with great players,” said Pagano. “They have it on both sides of the ball. They have it on special teams. Offensively, it starts with Ray Rice. We have to shut down the run. Joe (Flacco) can make all the throws. They can burn you with chunk plays. The defense has its leader (Ray Lewis) back, which will raise their level of play, we all know that. They still have great players front to back, and they can do damage if you allow it.
“The last thing is the elements, the crowd noise. Our guys have done a great job on the road this year of handling that.”
Indianapolis won last Sunday at home against Houston, 28-16, the AFC top-seeded team at that point. The club won seven times with fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks, fashioning an 11-5 record that stood as a nine-game jump from last year’s 2-14 finish.
Asked twice this week if he feared complacency at all, Pagano balked at the notion, including today.
“There is no way with what they’ve sacrificed individually (and) as a team collectively, there’s no way they would get to this point of this week and have that opportunity sitting in front of them and have a let up,” said Pagano.