INDIANAPOLIS – Swagger.
That was the word new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said was missing from a Colts offense through the first half of 2015.
The pieces were there.
The players first needed to hear that.
Sunday, they then needed to show it.
"(Chud) told us, his first meeting with us, 'The only thing that this offense is missing is swagger. I don't know why you all have your head down. Walk around with your chest up high,'" T.Y. Hilton said of Chud's message to his new offense on Wednesday.
"That's how we played today."
The script saw the Colts posses the ball for 38-plus minutes against the league's top ranked defense.
A season-high 40 rushes led to the balanced-nature the Colts have long desired.
Andrew Luck threw for 252 yards and no interceptions, becoming just the second quarterback all season to reach the 250-number against Denver's vaunted defense.
Normal special teamers Griff Whalen and Jack Doyle came up with critical plays for the Colts to knock off the undefeated Broncos.
T.Y. Hilton, recovered from a foot injury that he said normally takes four weeks to heal from, to not only play Sunday, but produce with five catches for 82 yards.
This offensive performance wasn't expected coming off a short (road) week, against a defense that had been putting up historic numbers through the first half of the season.
"Me, knowing Chud, I knew he was going to keep it balanced, no matter what," Frank Gore, who carried the ball a season-high 28 times himself said after the Colts moved their record to 4-5.
"We stood up against a top team in the NFL. I'm not surprised."
The start was what Chuck Pagano had lauded for earlier in the week.*
"Start like we finish."*
That was Pagano's recurring message when he explained the decision to remove Pep Hamilton and insert Chud, his long-time friend and confidant, into the play-calling role this week.
On Sunday, Chud and the Indianapolis offense came out of the starting blocks to a tune of 17 points in the first 20 minutes, versus a Denver defense that hadn't allowed a first-quarter point all season long.
With the Broncos eventually striking on big plays to get back into the game, the offense was called upon again to now finish like they started, on this Sunday.
After Denver had tied the score at 17 late in the third quarter, the Colts embarked on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with four key third-down conversions.
The final of which went to Ahmad Bradshaw for an eight-yard touchdown.
Denver answered with a five-minute touchdown drive of their own, to once again knot the score at 24 with 8:54 remaining.
Indianapolis, and the offense, led by a mistake-free day from Andrew Luck moved into Denver territory before Adam Vinatieri split the uprights on a 55-yard field goal, his longest make in 10 seasons with the Colts.
A Darius Butler interception, on a play Peyton Manning had burned the Colts on several times Sunday, completed the "complementary" day of football for Indianapolis.
Sunday was highlighted by the offense though.
It was 60 minutes of "simple plays" that the Colts knew they could execute, even against a defense that held Aaron Rodgers to just 77 yards a week prior.
Why was this performance being seen on this Sunday, of all weeks?
"I think it's probably a little bit of soul searching in the building - players - figuring out who we want to be," Luck said after his highest-rated game of 2015.
"The truth of the matter is we have the pieces. That's pretty darn obvious. With all the respect for every opponent we've played, we were also committing some terrible self-inflicted negatives. We didn't do that today."
The Colts now head into their bye week needing rest (Mike Adams and Henry Anderson both exited Sunday. Pagano called Anderson's knee injury "significant"), and also looking to build.
This was the type of effort so many thought the Colts would be accustomed to in 2015.
Pagano made sure his team knew that in the locker room afterwards.
"We stay humble (and) we roll form here," Pagano said.
"We don't ever take another step backwards. Not another step."