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TEXANS-COLTS NOTEBOOK

Posted Dec 31, 2012

A whirlwind regular season for Colts rookies ended with another memorable afternoon. A number of the first-year players had big days. For the third time in six seasons, the Colts and Ravens will meet in the playoffs.

FLEENER AND FELLOW ROOKIES LEAD THE SCORING – From the outset on Sunday, the Colts made it clear there would not be a slow start for the team coming out of the home locker room.

 

Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck led a 13-play, 75-yard drive to begin the afternoon, with tight end Coby Fleener capping it off with a one-yard touchdown reception.

 

It appeared the Colts might have to settle for a field goal on the opening series after two previous tries from the one-yard line did not result in a score.

 

Indianapolis took advantage of a Texans penalty on a third-and-goal, and two plays later Luck found a wide open Fleener in the back of the end zone.

 

“It was a play-action play, and I think you’ve got to credit the O-line for selling run and the play by Vick Ballard in the backfield,” Fleener said.  “They bit pretty well and came up a little bit and Andrew (Luck) threw it in there.”

 

The next Colts touchdown came from the rookie class grinding out all 39 yards on a six-play drive late in the second quarter.

 

Indianapolis cornerback Vontae Davis intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and set up the Colts offense at the Houston 39-yard line with 4:05 left in the first half.

 

Ballard broke a 20-yard run off a draw play on the drive’s second snap, placing the Colts in the red zone.

 

On a third-and-nine, Luck hit wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for a 17-yard gain to the one-yard line.

 

There would be no drama down deep this time as Ballard broke through the left side of the line for the touchdown.

 

The final Colts touchdown drive was about a pair of rookies that have ignited the offense all season long.

 

Facing a third-and-23 from his 30-yard line with 11:31 to play in the game, Luck looked off Houston safety Quintin Demps with a subtle pump fake before firing a strike into Hilton’s hands.

 

Hilton outran the Texans secondary for a 70-yard score, the third touchdown by a Colts rookie in the 28-16 win.

 

Trying to get new faces to gel with old ones was a frequent topic during the offseason.

 

The chemistry has been flawless and the smiles on the faces in the locker room following the 11th win of the season told the entire story.

 

“We are a family,” offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo said.  “I don’t know what other teams in the NFL are like but it’s really a great thing to be a part of, just everybody bonding together and really going into these games as a team and getting these team victories.”

 

The calendars will turn to January in a few hours and the Colts will be preparing for the playoffs.  It is the next phase that every NFL team strives for during training camp, but it is one that about two-thirds do not achieve.

 

“The story has yet to be written,” Fleener said.  “Ultimately, it’s what we do in the playoffs that means something.  Getting there is one thing, but winning games there is another.”

 

BALTIMORE IS THE OPPONENT – They did not care who, where or when, the Colts are just happy to be invited to the dance.

 

Indianapolis will travel to Baltimore next Sunday in taking on the AFC North champions at 1:00 p.m.

 

The thought of playing the Ravens was fairly new to players when informed of their next opponent in the post-game locker room.

 

“It doesn’t matter to us.  We’ll play in the parking lot,” outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said. “We just want to go out there and play football and be in this dance, which we are and just go out there and play against the best.  Our goals, we have to accomplish these goals.”

 

The storylines will be plentiful this week in leading up to Sunday’s kickoff pitting Head Coach Chuck Pagano against a team with whom he coached from 2008-11.

 

Defensive end Cory Redding and safety Tom Zbikowski came over from Baltimore last season, following Pagano.

 

“It’s going to be fun to see them and say hello but at the end of the day, we have to go over there and compete.  That’s what it’s all about.  Us and the Ravens, here we go,” Redding said.

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