INDIANAPOLIS – Walking off Sport Authority Filed in early September, Colts players had a feeling it wouldn't be the last time they saw the Broncos this season.
The hole they dug themselves against the defending AFC Champions was immense.
Down 24-0 late in the first half, and even 31-10 almost halfway through the fourth quarter, the Colts boarded the team plane later on that Sunday evening thinking what could have been.
The Colts comeback hopes were put to rest after a possible game-tying drive ended at the Broncos 39-yard line with less than two minutes remaining.
Four months later, the Colts will return to Mile High on Sunday afternoon trying to rewrite the script from the season opener.
"We knew the caliber of team that they are and walking off that field, we weren't satisfied with our performance," Dwayne Allen said. "We knew that if we did what we had to do, meaning make it to the playoffs, that we knew we would have the opportunity to come back."
Personnel and even philosophy changes from Week One are endless for both teams.
A few of the major changes for Denver include the Broncos relying on a more committed running game, led by then backup C.J. Anderson.
Veteran slot receiver Wes Welker has returned to the lineup for Denver, allowing Demaryius Thomas to move back outside after the Pro Bowler had just four catches in the opener versus Indianapolis.
Denver is beginning to get healthy on the defensive side of the ball with five Pro Bowlers across that unit.
Coming off the edge on Sunday will be Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware combining for 24 sacks, one of just three sets of teammates in the league with double-digit sack numbers this season.
Anthony Castonzo, the Colts bookend left tackle, was already transiting to next week before the gun sounded against Cincinnati
"As soon as it got to 0:00, I was like, 'Alright, DeMarcus Ware preparation starts right now,' Castonzo said after the game on Sunday.
"You can't have any time to relax. It's playoffs. Everybody is giving their best. I've got one of the best next week. That preparation mentally starts right now."
It started in earnest late on Sunday night as Colts players began dissecting their next opponent.
When the Colts regular season schedule came out last April, a season opening contest in Denver was scheduled for primetime.
The thought was that this game was a potential playoff preview.
It was believed in April by NFL schedule makers, told to each team after the season opener, and now it will come to fruition on Sunday.
"They kind of expected to see us again and we expected to see them again," Castonzo says. "That was kind of a mutual thing at the end of that game.
"I remember very little from the season but from what I remember it was a hard fought hard game and I would expect nothing less."