INDIANAPOLIS – On the surface, there was little to play for. But don't tell that to Chuck Pagano and his Indianapolis Colts (11-5).
In the week leading up to the Colts 2014 finale, Pagano stressed the importance of finishing off the regular season with a winning performance leading into January.
The taste of a 35-point loss in Week 16 completely ended on Sunday with the Colts orchestrating another convincing divisional win.
"We knew we were already in, but I'm really proud of the players and coaches in that locker room and the guys that have sacrificed a lot to get us to this point," Pagano said after another 11-win campaign.
"Great effort today, gritty win, all of that stuff, proud of the guys, proud of the effort, there's some guys that stepped up and made some good plays and things like that, it's onward to whoever."
Andrew Luck's afternoon of work lasted just a half but produced three scoring drives with the Colts taking a 17-7 lead into halftime.
The highlight of Luck's final regular season action of 2014 came on an 80-yard toss to Reggie Wayne in the second quarter.
The play gave Luck the Colts franchise record for most passing yards in a single season and he would push that total to 4,761 on the year.
"It was a great catch, it was awesome," Luck said of Wayne's sideline grab.
"He contorted his body between two guys and then to keep his feet in bounds and keep on running, he is remarkable. For him to preform like that, it's special."
Tight ends Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle accounted for all three of the Colts touchdowns in a game that saw yet another offensive line group start the game.
Normal left guard Jack Mewhort slid over to right tackle for the first time all year. Next to him was Lance Louis, starting at right guard for a second straight week. The patched-up unit battled in-game injuries to A.Q. Shipley (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (shoulder) and allowed one sack in 35 pass attempts.
"They did an admirable job, more than admirable," Pagano said of the offensive line.
"Give credit to (coaches) Joe Gilbert, Hal Hunter and Frankie Giufre and those players for sticking to the process and preparing and practicing like pros and stepping up when their numbers were called. I am proud of them."
The Colts defense got back to the unit seen during the team's recent four-game winning streak. Tennessee produced just 10 points in 14 possessions, with the lone touchdown coming off a drive that began in Indianapolis territory.
Rookie Jonathan Newsome pushed his team-leading sack total to 6.5 and the Colts took down Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst four separate times.
With the win, the Colts set a franchise record with their 13th straight AFC South win.
Veteran Cory Redding flipped the script a bit by handing a game ball to Chuck Pagano for the Colts head coach becoming the second man in NFL history to record three straight 11-win seasons to start a coaching career.
Pagano then got the final word in the locker room in addressing his playoff-bound team.
"It's one and done," the Colts head coach said of January.
"We all know the stakes get higher and it's single elimination so whatever we have to do to win a game that's what we are going to do, whatever it takes."