INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts draw a close to the home portion of the 2011 season tonight in hosting Houston.
This has been the eighth straight season the Colts have played in front of sell out audiences through a complete home season.
The dedication and support of fans has allowed the team to play 70 consecutive games in front of a full stadium. The team, because of its great fans, has had sell outs in 103 of the last 104 home games in the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Owner and CEO Jim Irsay and the organization placed the '12th Man' in the Ring of Honor during the 2008 season in honor of the loyalty, passion and support of the NFL's greatest fans.
Since the start of the 1999 season, the Colts have earned a record of 74-29 at home, winning eight division titles, two AFC Championships and Super Bowl XLI.
The fans have contributed to the run by making Indianapolis one of the toughest NFL cities in which to play, and members of the organization wish to offer their thanks to Colts fans.
Vice Chairman Bill Polian
"Our record attendance over the last 13 seasons is first and foremost a tribute to our fans who truly have been the '12th Man' for all these great years. It is also a tribute to Jim Irsay who envisioned our magnificent Lucas Oil Stadium and to our players, coaches and staff who have provided us with so many thrills during this unprecedented run."
Head Coach Jim Caldwell
"Our fans have been absolutely tremendous. They've been as loyal a group as I've ever been around. Our players appreciate them. They appreciate their support. They appreciate the consistency. They appreciate how vocal they are week in and week out. We want to thank them for their continued loyalty."
Linebacker Gary Brackett
"They've been awesome. Even now, the support they've shown us in the stadium and around the city, the encouragement for guys. They are hanging in there with us, they've been great. Sticking with us through thick and thin, that's what true fans do. I have the utmost respect for our fans and their support. I would not trade our fans for anyone's. They've been loyal. They've been great. They've really been giving us a competitive advantage for years. I respect the '12th Man.' I salute them."
Tight End Dallas Clark
"They've always been great. Their support has definitely helped us, especially back in the RCA Dome where it was loud. They've carried the excitement and enthusiasm to Lucas (Oil Stadium). The support definitely helps the defense out and rattles offenses. They've definitely been a factor in it (team's success). They've been with us the whole way, and we appreciate that."
Wide Receiver Pierre Garcon
"I really appreciate the fans coming out to every game. Every week, even though we're not doing as well, they're still out there and they're still all-in. I notice and thank them."
Quarterback Peyton Manning
"Our fans have been great. I've had a number of quarterbacks tell me this is one of the loudest places to play. That makes you feel good to be playing in that type of environment. It's been fun to see how the fan base grows each year, how they are wearing jerseys on game days. It's a great display of their commitment and interest in the team. They've been great fans to play for. They've helped us win a lot of games around here."
Center Jeff Saturday
"Our fans are the best in the business. There have been many years of sellouts. Our fan support, no matter what, they're here, they're making noise. I think we have the best fans in the NFL. You know the fans by the tunnel. You know the fans behind your bench. You see them every week. You see them encourage you, and it's nice to have the same people there every week to support you."
Long Snapper Justin Snow
"I've been here a long time and we've won a lot of games, and our fans definitely are a tribute to that. They are there game in and game out. They make it a hostile environment for the opponent coming. Something we look forward to is having that '12th Man.' I know this year's been tough on them, but we've had a lot of good ones. I know they will be with us again."
Tight End Jacob Tamme
"The fans here have been unbelievable. In my four years, I never have played without a sellout. The fact our fans have made our place one of the toughest in the league is awesome. They've been tremendous for sticking by us and supporting us this year through tough times. It means a lot to us. I can't thank them enough."
COLTS THURSDAY NOTEBOOK (QUOTE-UNQUOTE): Jim Caldwell(on improving running game and adding fullbacks to attack)* "I think there are a lot of things that go into it. I don't think there is just one factor. I think we have a combination of things that are occurring. Once we settled in, we were able to use our personnel as such where we had two healthy fullbacks. We started out a few weeks back with one, then we got injured and had to change in the middle of a game. Now, we have a couple of guys who have been able to work that position. Even if we have an injury, we have someone else who can come in and still carry on. We've made a concerted effort to run the ball. You can see by the numbers in previous weeks, our numbers have been increasing steadily. We're not quite certain we want our numbers like they were (against Tennessee), 34 attempts rushing and 17 passing, but the running game is important to us. It's how at this point in time we're going to win games. We have to be able to control the line of scrimmage. Certainly there is a commitment there (to run the ball). Our backs are doing a good job of running the ball. Our offensive line, fullbacks and tight ends are all doing a good job of creating creases as well. The perimeter (is, too). You can't have a good running game without everybody being sold on it." Caldwell(on RB-Donald Brown's Tennessee game) "Obviously, it was the best (game) he's had around here. You could always see the potential of those kinds of games. Donald's been pretty well here for a pretty good stretch. He finds a way to make things happen. (He had) a 35-yard run, an 80-yard run. There were some hard-fought five- and six-yard runs in there, too. He shows what he's blessed with – speed. He can hit seams on you. He does a good job in terms of his assignments in pass protection. He's a very smart player. He caught a pass on the outside as well. Donald had a pretty complete game yesterday." Caldwell(on RB-Donald Brown's pass protection) "He's always been very assignment-conscious. He knows exactly what he's supposed to do. That's never been an issue with him. There may have been some times like every back when you get matched up against some of these werewolves that rush the passer. You're going to have some issues every once in a while. I think overall Donald has done a real good job, regardless of who he had to block. He's improved there, but he's also improved in a number of other areas as well." Caldwell(on players like DB-Jacob Lacey bouncing back) "I just think that the great majority of the guys are very, very competitive anyway. Oftentimes you'll find where some individuals get demoted and they never come back from it. They sort of sink into misery, complain and don't work through practice and get better. You find the guys that come back and excel are the guys that don't do that. What they do is they concentrate on, 'OK, what do I need to improve on?' They work on those things. Then when they do have that second opportunity, they take advantage of it. That's what I think he has been able to do. I think those guys that are resilient, those guys that are able to certainly work on their weaknesses and be willing to take criticism, and then be able to find a way to improve upon it, are the guys that come back and come back even a little bit stronger, as Jacob has in the last few weeks." Caldwell(on what win over Tennessee means to organization) "There are a number of different things, and I'm not certain you can put your finger on all of them. It certainly has a lot to do with the veteran players on the team that hung in there together. We have good leadership in that regard. It certainly has to do with the type of men that we have in our organization. They are men of character and integrity. They are not a bunch of guys that complain a whole lot and things of that nature, and (there are) not a whole lot of selfish people. We also have a coaching staff that is a veteran staff that understands how to keep their guys focused and zeroed-in, even during tough and difficult times. Our organization is such where we didn't panic. We had to make some adjustments on the run here and there, but they were able to hang in there. I just think the entire collective body has done a great job of sort of keeping everybody operating out of the same lane." Caldwell(on being glad for QB-Dan Orlovsky and others get a win) "I'm glad to see a lot of our guys, just the entire team really (earn the victory). It's been a tough stretch. It's not over yet, obviously. We've still got to battle and we have a couple more games ahead of us. It was good to see Dan (Orlovsky) play well. It was good to see him get a win, obviously. I was also not only happy for him, but also happy for a lot of other guys on this team. I worry about my men, these guys that play for us. It's important for them to get one as well." Caldwell(on QB-Peyton Manning) "He's rehabbing. I think that's what I can say best to you. He's not going to practice at all with us the next two weeks. One reason why is it's a short week this week. We're probably going to operate at a little bit different pace. He feels, and the doctors and guys he's working with, feel he could probably be a little better served kind of working in his own drill work. He can put together some things to certainly enhance his rehab. He's also concerned about not taking any reps away from Dan (Orlovsky) and Curtis (Painter) in terms of this week's preparation. He's going to focus in on more of the rehab and probably the rehab more so outside the confines of a practice session. … He's rehabbing. He's getting better. He's improving." Caldwell(on LB-Pat Angerer's intelligence and ability) "I think (smart play and positioning) is certainly involved in the process, but he is also very tenacious. He has a great desire to get to the ball. He's very instinctive. You cut down on a lot of your problems and issues if you know how to line-up properly and you've studied to know exactly what you may get from particular formations, sets and things of that nature. He is able to do all of those." Caldwell(on club's focus on running in last two games of season) "It has kind of been that way for quite a while now. We just, in some cases, had not gotten (the running game going). I think against New England we had 32 rushing attempts. I think we had 34 in this game. I think if you look back, you'll see that we have a fullback in our offense, which is uncommon for us, or had been. There are a number of things that would indicate that. We've probably said it every week, we've been trying to emphasize the run. It just so happened this game was a little bit different. We generally don't get those kinds of numbers, 34 (rushes) and 17 (pass attempts). We did want to certainly ramp up the number of runs that we have in a ballgame. We just think that we're better suited, and that depends on who we're playing."Caldwell(on if team will use a similar defensive approach against Houston as it did against Tennessee) "It's a different attack. It's certainly a different team in terms of the way they do things. Although they both run the ball extremely well, they do it different ways. Their (Houston's) offensive line is as skilled a group, just in terms of operating a zone scheme, as anybody you will see. They do it as well as anybody in the league. We're not going to be able to do things exactly the way we did them last week. They (Houston) present so many other problems for you. They bootleg. They give you (play) actions that look exactly like their running plays. Their passes can attack you not only behind your linebackers when they step forward, but also deep in your perimeter as well. Whether (Andre) Johnson is there or not, they still have guys that can get down the field and catch it. They give you some different problems. You can't just use a cookie-cutter (approach) and say, 'Hey, we're going to use the exact same thing we did last week against (Tennessee).' " Dan Orlovsky(on the win and the team's integrity) "To continue to come in and work the way we have worked and play on Sundays and not reap the benefits, it gets difficult. It gets frustrating. I think that is one of the most difficult parts about it. To finally go out and play the way that we think we are capable of playing and reap the benefits of our hard work, it definitely gives you some confidence. At the same time, I think all of us in this locker room know it's literally a week-to-week thing in this league. It was nice for us, but we've moved on. We know the problems and the challenge that Houston presents to us and how well they're playing. It will be another good opportunity for us Thursday night." Orlovsky(on how much inside knowledge he has on Houston and if it will help) "The teams play each other enough and have had enough big games against each other the last couple of years that you know enough about each other. Obviously, me being there practicing against those guys basically every day, I certainly know the kind of players they are. At the end of the day, it's going to come down to us going out and playing and executing. It's not like either team is a big team that is going to try and confuse the other a ton. Each team lines up and kind of does what they do. It's about going out and doing it better than the other guy consistently. They know me just as well as I know them." Orlovsky(on challenges of short week) "It presents a lot of challenges for both teams. You have to get healthy and get healthy quick. You don't get much of a rest mentally. I think the biggest thing is getting your body back to respond. Preparation is shortened significantly, by about 50 percent. (You're) trying to get in and learn the opponent as well as you can as quickly as you can. Eventually, it comes down to just going out and playing. I think that's going to be part of it, just going out and trusting what you know, trusting what your rules tell you in your base offense or defense, then going and playing." Orlovsky(on if good rushing game is quarterback's best friend) "Yes. Every time you can run the ball as effectively as we did (against Tennessee), it's a quarterback's best friend. More teams commit another guy to the box. It means you get one-on-one, free-access throws on the outside. I think it's a big thing. It was a great day for us. Hopefully, we can continue to build on it and put another one on the board. It will be tough. They're a really good front, really good against the run. It will be a challenge for us. I think our guys up front are up to it. They obviously played extremely well (last Sunday). Our backs ran well. It will be another good test for us." Orlovsky(on congratulatory messages after first career win) "I've been pretty fortunate ever since I got the (starting) nod a couple of weeks ago that I've had a lot of good support from family and friends and some people back home. Even some people I've crossed paths with in my career. There were definitely some nice people who reached out and sent an email or text (message) to say congratulations. It was nice. To name one would be difficult. There were a bunch of them that meant a lot to me. (It was) definitely a humbling thing to have people reach out like that." Jeff Saturday(on Houston) "They're the AFC South champions this year. They've got a good squad. They're a heck of a football team. They have got a great defense and probably the best front seven in the league on defense. They run the ball well. They've got a good offensive line. That blueprint does awfully well, usually, this time of year. I've got a lot of respect for the way they play the game, but I would sure like to beat them this second game." Saturday(on if finishing with three division games is good) "This is your backyard, and you'd better take care of it. The same mentality we took with Tennessee we have to take with Houston, then following with Jacksonville. These are guys you are going to face twice a year. You'd sure hate to let somebody feel like they have the advantage over you and build a bunch of confidence against you. We're going to have to come out (strongly) against them. They're going to come out ripping and roaring, coming off a loss and their playoffs (fight) and what they're trying to get accomplished. It's going to be a tough game. We have to be ready for it." Saturday(on need for rushing attack against Houston) "We need to run it. The one thing about their defense is (if) you get into a one-dimensional football game throwing it, it's going to be a nasty afternoon. You saw it in the first game of the year. They can turn it loose. They'll rush five (guy) all day and play man-to-man behind it. They're as good as it gets when you get one-dimensional. Regardless of what their offense is doing, our offense needs to control the ball, control the line of scrimmage and get first downs, no matter what it looks like." Saturday(on QB-Peyton Manning) "He (Manning) is my guy. I love him. I love playing with him and anything I can do to help him get back (I'll do). It feels good to see him (with) pads on and cleats on and going under center and in the shotgun. We had fun. Man, this is what we do for a living. I think both of us love this game. Anything I do to help him, I was real excited to see it." Antoine Bethea(on QB-T.J. Yates) "He is a mobile quarterback. Looking at the film in a short amount of time, he really doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Hopefully, we can get (Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis) off the edges and get him into a position where he has to make some mistakes. Hopefully, we can capitalize on those." Bethea(on Houston rushing attack) "(Arian) Foster and (Ben) Tate, they are doing a good job. They have that zone principle where the running backs can run and find that hole and if one person is out of position, it could possibly be a 40 or 50-yard run. We most definitely have to be gap-sound this week and run to the ball and fly around like we did on Sunday." Jacob Lacey(on a DB needing to be a riverboat gambler with a short memory) "That's absolutely right. You win some, you lose some. If you harp on it too much with a win or a loss, either or, you can really take yourself out of the game. I think that's a pretty accurate description of how it goes. It's a joke in itself, but it's kind of reality. A lot of truth is said in jest." Lacey(on being benched then returning) "Personally, it's a humbling thing from being a starter to being pulled and to get a chance to come back and redeem myself and really redeem my name and to be able to come out and help us get a win. The key the whole time is wanting to play. They gave me another shot, another opportunity. I had to make the best of it. … I just leaned on my family. My family was there for me. They told me to keep my head up and keep playing. This is what I do. This is how I've been forever. It wasn't really a big difference in how I came to work, it was just mainly from a mental standpoint of keeping my head in the game. I feel like I'm still in the process of doing it (redeeming himself). We still have two more games left. I don't think I'll be complete until the season is done and I've gone out and shown in my last sightings that I can play." Dwight Freeney(on DB-Jacob Lacey*) "He has a lot of talent. That type of performance he came out with last week is the type of performance we know he's capable of having. That's why he was still around. It's great to see it, and I know he has a lot more in him. It's a building block for him to continue to play that way."