INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts had been oh-so-close to earning wins the first weeks of the season, but fell short on both occasions.
So while 0-2 was certainly not what the team had hoped for, head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson knew getting a win in Week 3 over the San Diego Chargers, at home, was of the utmost importance.
Not that the first two games weren't important — they were. But history shows that teams have rarely been able to bounce back from 0-3 starts and still make the playoffs.
So Indianapolis came out on a roll last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, quickly getting out to a 10-0 lead on the Chargers. But San Diego quickly bounced back, and from there, it was a see-saw battle until the very end, when Andrew Luck found T.Y. Hilton on a quick slant late in the fourth quarter, a pass that he took 63 yards for the game-winning score in a 26-22 Colts victory.
"Yeah, it's huge. Major. And it was a great win. It was a great team win," Pagano told host Bob Lamey in his weekly appearance on Colts Roundtable Live on 1070 The Fan. "We talked about it after the game, Bob, we talked about it all week — we've been close. Week 1, Week 2; we just didn't finish. We talked about a fast start, which we had, but we also talked at length about finishing the game. And our guys found a way to finish the game, and played with great, great effort, great emotion, flew around, guys made plays all over the field — offense, defense and special teams.
"Yeah, big difference between 1-2 and 0-3."
The Colts hope to make it two in a row — and get to .500 in the process — when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
But the game is much more than just the start of AFC South Division play for Indianapolis; it is being played at Wembley Stadium in London.
The organization has been planning for months for this very trip, but its main goal is to make it as normal a roadtrip as possible.
"We'll get there Friday, early morning, sometime around 6:30, 7 o'clock, and by the time we get to the hotel, the big thing is you keep them up," Pagano said of arriving in London. "So you have meetings and walkthrough over there on Friday, have a light practice over there Friday afternoon, same thing Saturday and play Sunday."
Here's some other highlights from Monday's show, including some calls from fans fielded by Grigson:
————————————Colts general manager Ryan GrigsonOn getting the first win of the season Week 3 vs. the Chargers:
"Well, it's what we had to do. I mean, you're 0-2 — we've never been 0-3 before; we didn't want to know what that was like. And it was a roller coaster of a game, of course. We still need to limit some of those mistakes, and, again, take advantage of situations to where we can get up on people. But there was a lot of good off the film — a real lot of good. And there was some players that returned that you saw some real life out of, and as the game wore on, it was nice to see some of those guys starting to get lathered up and starting to look like their old selves. So a lot to look forward to, I think, and again, it's been consistent — the complexion of this team is not there yet. We need, especially on the defensive side of the ball, we're still a work in progress to some degree, and there are players that I think once we're up to speed on that side of the ball, we'll keep getting better, showing that growth."**
On the play of the offense vs. San Diego:** "You know, it looked cleaner up front. I thought we had some good lanes for Frank to run. Frank was hitting the holes hard. I mean, he was decisive, played with a lot of energy, and just passion. I mean, he's just as passionate of a player as I've ever been around, and he plays that way. I thought he had a heck of a game. So I thought that there was — even though there was some musical chairs, I thought the offensive line showed some cohesion and did some good things out there. So we of course need to get better, but there was some promising things on both sides of the ball."On the fact so many rookies, many due to injuries, were thrust into important roles against the Chargers: "I think that final drive we had four rookies out there, counting Chester Rogers. So we've got a lot of young players, and they know they've got to produce. They can't just go out there and just be a bystander. But they're all putting their time in, and it's showing up on Sundays."On all the planning that goes into traveling to play in London: "I mean, I'd be lying if i said it was just going to be like going to Tennessee or something like that. You have to account for a lot in terms of, you know, just sleep — and we scouted out as much as we possibly can with our ops people. Jeff Brown does a great job, Tex; all those guys, they go over there, Pete Ward goes over there — we try to make it as error-free as possible and make the transition as smooth as possible. The place where we're at, there's been a lot of teams there — I've talked to a lot of other personnel men and GMs about the place, and you feel good about where we're going to be practicing. We have everything buttoned up pretty good, I think, but it's our first time, so your second time you're always going to probably be a little bit more comfortable, but I think we've prepared pretty well — as much as we can."On the importance of the Week 3 victory: "It felt must-win to me. I mean, it does. Especially when you're that close two weeks in a row, it makes you want it that much more and thirst for it that much more. We just had to finish. We had to just finish. And we found a way to finish, despite some of our errors and mistakes."Caller Josh, on what was most impressive about the offense against the Chargers: Grigson: "T.Y. (Hilton) had 174 yards yesterday. That's the second-most in a single game in his career. You know, Gore had 70 yards in the first half. So that's probably why you thought our offense looked good. And then Andrew had 331 yards and a touchdown. So it was good to watch. You know, we've had our moments offensively, of course. I think we're pretty strong at each position group, top to bottom, on that side of the ball. So we have high expectations in the building — I know our fans do for our offense, with our quarterback and the weapons that he has. So we just hope to build on it. The offensive line needs to continue to gel. But I think we're going in the right direction on that side of the ball — that's for sure."Caller Brian, asking about all the logistics involved in playing in London: Grigson: "Well, first of all, it's been made very clear to us that it's a business trip, so I'm not going to going to visit Big Ben. Chuck and I aren't going to be, you know, eating fish and chips on the street together and going to the pubs and things like that. But the league, on a real note, the league will cycle through the teams. It's kind of neat — Andrew (Luck) has some London ties. He's kind of (been) a world traveler since he's been a young boy, and he's been all through Europe. I've never been over there. You know, I'm interested to see how Wembley (Stadium) and the NFL experience is going to be over there. But when it's game time, I believe that our coach is going to have these guys prepared in a way that it doesn't matter where we play. That's got to be the mindset. Our owner, he's always like, 'It doesn't matter if we're going to play on a gravel lot up in Gary — we just got to go, be prepared and then beat the team across from us.' But we do go through an exhaustive process. We have a lot of people — I met a lot of the contacts, even in the preseason, we go through a lot of dry runs with the people with the airlines we've chosen. There's just a lot of crossing Ts and dotting Is to try to make it as seamless as possible. So the sleep, from the players' standpoint, the sleep — guys trying to be off their feet, trying to get guys to be able to lay down on the plane — and you don't want guys to be jet-lagged, because then we have to come back and play the Bears, as well. So it can take its toll. We have Joe Philbin, who was the head coach in Miami and has done the trip before, so we added a lot of things to this, brought a lot to the table in terms of what to do, what not to do, suggestions — if he could've done it over again, he would've done this or that. So there was a lot of meetings in the offseason about it." Caller Chet, on if the team is striving to get Frank Gore to the 100-yard rushing mark in a game soon:
Grigson: "Yes, definitely … Frank is somebody that, gosh, you know, you wish that he'd get 100 here soon. But I think he was on his way. But Frank is a guy that plays the game the way it's meant to be played. The more our O-line comes along, I think the easier it's going to be for him, but the way he played yesterday was a real indication that that day's coming here pretty soon. We really like Frank. He's a great example to all our young players of how to be a pro, and his true love for the game is like no other that I've been around. So he really values good blocking, he values a tough offensive line. He's almost like a scout — he'll come over and start talking to you about this guy and that guy, because he's seen what makes people successful in this league, and to him, it really centers around, 'How bad do you want it?' I mean, 'How bad do you want (it)?' I mean, this is a guy that's in tears — he wants to win so bad, and you just loves how that fire burns with him. And the play he made at Denver. I mean, there's a handful of guys in this league that make that play. He's a special guy, and a special player."
"I like how Frank Gore will challenge people. I think that sometimes, no matter what year you are in the NFL or how young you are or how old you are, sometimes you need to be challenged. And sometimes your manhood needs to be challenged. Guys sometimes can get complacent for whatever reason, and Frank's that guy that is never complacent. And we don't want one guy on this 53 that's complacent. So Frank's a good steward of that, and he's not afraid to call somebody out, or, say someone isn't playing hard or isn't tough and so forth. Coaches love having guys like him around."