A Capsule Look at the Colts' Sunday Showdown Against the Seahawks
Indianapolis Colts (3-0) vs. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Sunday, October 4, 2009 (1:00 p.m. EDT)
Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000 capacity) – Indianapolis, Ind.
Television/Radio: FOX Sports and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1
Two weeks ago, the Colts' late-game heroics helped them down the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Last Sunday night, the team's offense and the defense came together to defeat the Arizona Cardinals on their home turf, 31-10.
Now, the Colts are back in Indianapolis, a welcome site to Head Coach Jim Caldwell.
"We've had a pretty good stretch away from home, but it's always good to have an opportunity to come and play in front of your home fans," he said.
In an address to his team earlier in the week, Caldwell told his players not to overlook Sunday's home game after winning back-to-back road games on prime-time television the past two weeks.
Caldwell referenced a passage from Scripture that reminded him of the "delicate balancing act" the Colts face this week.
"We have to exalt men without inflating them. And humble men without debasing them," he said.
Caldwell said he wanted to convey the message and importance of being confident, yet humble, to his younger players and "kind of set the tone for them."
"We'd better get ready to play a tough Seattle team … It's results that count in this league. Every week we have to go out and prove ourselves," he said.
The Seahawks enter the game 1-2 after losing in the final minutes to the Chicago Bears last week, 25-19. Seattle lost at San Francisco in Week 2 and picked up their lone victory against the St. Louis Rams in their season-opener.
Should the Colts win on Sunday, it will be the fourth time in five years they have started their season 4-0, while it would extend their winning streak dating to last season to 13 games, tying a franchise best.
Despite three wins through three weeks, Caldwell said the Colts are not getting ahead of themselves.
"All the 3-0 start has ensured us is we won't go 2-14," he said. "We still have a lot of work to do."
But Caldwell is excited by the fact that he sees his team improving every week.
"We are getting a little bit better," he said. "We are getting to the point where we think we are a pretty-consistent performing team. We've been a little up and down the first couple of weeks, but it's tough to win a game in this league."
Caldwell described last week's 21-point margin of victory as "highly unusual," and said most NFL games are decided by 3-7 points, which reinforces how important it is for the Colts to execute and perform every week.
"The situation typically ends in the fourth quarter, where you either have the ball and you're trying to drive it down the field to either tie it or win with a touchdown or field goal," Caldwell said. "Or the opposite exists, when you're on defense and you try to prevent them from scoring to either tie it up or win it. That's typically how a great majority of them end."
Winners of their last 12 regular-season games, Caldwell said the Colts are good at keeping an even keel, which helps them perform in close games.
"Over the years, one of the interesting things is that if you walked into our facility on a Wednesday, you really couldn't tell if we won or lost (the previous game), because there is always the same intense preparation, regardless of the situation. And I think that is a good thing," he said.
Caldwell said the team's emphasis to detail and solid work ethic makes the workload leading up to games much more manageable.
"(The players) look at every situation and know that we have a lot of work to do and don't take anything for granted, and we've been able to perform pretty well as a result of it."
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SEAHAWKS
This week, the Colts have been focused on preparing for an NFC opponent they have not faced since 2005 or beaten since 2000.
Despite Seattle's early struggles this season, including a loss to the Bears last week on a long touchdown in the closing minutes, quarterback Peyton Manning said the Seahawks are formidable opponent.
"They've had some injuries, but it sounds like they'll get some of those guys back," Manning said. "You have to be prepared to play against anybody, but we think they'll get some of their starters back, which will make a difference.
"They've got playmakers on both sides of the ball," he said.
Seattle Head Coach Jim Mora, son of former Colts head coach Jim Mora, said the team is not making any excuses despite suffering some key injuries.
"We didn't expect to be sitting here 1-2," Mora said. "We started out fast with a win over St. Louis … We're playing a little short-handed, but we have a lot of guys that have filled in and done a good job. We've just come up short the last two games, but the thing I'm real proud about is the effort and the attitude and the work ethic of the men that played for us."
One of the Seattle players who stepped up in an injured player's absence is backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. The eighth-year veteran completed 26-of-44 passes last week for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"He's a very capable guy," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. "He can scramble, he can make plays on his feet and he makes good reads."
If Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is unable to go, Mora said he is more than comfortable starting Wallace.
"Seneca's played a lot in this league, and he's a good player and can keep the play alive for a long time because of his mobility," the Seahawks coach said. "He has an underappreciated arm, I think, but for him it's just a matter of playing and guys around him making plays … He's a tough guy. I think our players really respect him."
Caldwell said the Colts would not prepare much differently for Hasselbeck or Wallace.
"The interesting thing about those two is the fact that they do have similarities," he said. "Oftentimes, you find a huge difference between the mobility of one and the other, but in this particular case, you do not."
Caldwell also said Hasselbeck moves better than most give him credit, and that Seattle's offense does not change much when they switch play-callers.
"They run the same schemes, they do the same things," he said.
The Colts issued their game status report on Friday with WR-Anthony Gonzalez (knee) and DB-Bob Sanders (knee) listed as out for Sunday's game against Seattle. The following Colts players were listed as questionable: LB-Gary Brackett (knee), DEs- Keyunta Dawson (foot) and Dwight Freeney (quadriceps), DB-Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and RB-Chad Simpson (abdomen).
• "There are a lot of the same things. I'm sure that was their intent, trying to keep the system unchanged, so they wouldn't have to go through a complete system change. I think you can see that it is still a very capable offense, and still looks the same. (Former Head) Coach (Mike) Holmgren always had a real strong offensive team, and this one is no different. They make very few mistakes, very few penalties, very few turnovers. It's a sharp group." – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on if there is anything new about Seattle's offense with a different coordinator
• "I faced (the Colts) one other time, Peyton's rookie year, the first game he started out in San Francisco. They jumped out on us 21-0. That was the only other time I've faced Peyton." – Seattle Head Coach Jim Mora on if he has ever faced the Colts as an assistant
• "It was kind of like, 'Is this for real? We're going to wear those for a game?' But, I mean, who am I to judge? This is my second year, I just do what I'm told." – Seattle tight end John Carlson on the green uniforms the Seahawks wore last week
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR…
1) COMING HOME AGAIN
Sunday not only marks the Colts' lone October home game, but it also will be the homecoming of the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Edgerrin James.
James, who played in the Colts backfield from 1999-2005, signed with Seattle this offseason after playing the past three years in Arizona. He has appeared in all three games for the Seahawks this season, but has rushed the ball just 17 times for 43 yards.
"If you look at his production on the field, it's not great yet, but it's coming. But his production in the locker room is invaluable," Mora said. "The guy is a real leader."
Mora's father, who coached the Colts from 1998-2001, encouraged his son to sign the running back that had so much success under him.
"He told me he was one of his favorite players of all-time – and people of all-time – that he's coached," Mora said.
Caldwell, Manning, and several other Colts voiced their pleasure in having James come back to the city where he won two rushing titles.
"I know our fan base certainly appreciated what he did while he was here, and I know it will be a great homecoming for him, in a sense," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of guys in the locker room that have a lot of love and respect for him, as do the coaches and everyone else in this organization. It will be great to see him."
Caldwell, who served as an assistant coach while James was in Indianapolis, described the running back as a "great competitor," but said all friendships will be put aside on Sunday.
"When that whistle blows, it'll be serious business if he's in the ballgame with the ball in his hands," he said. "He can still do some damage."
2) AN "UNFAMILIAR OPPONENT"
While the most action usually comes on Sunday, Manning said the reason the Colts have gotten off to such a hot start this season is their work early in the week.
"We've had good practices and good preparations," he said. "And that will be key again this week."
Preparing for an "unfamiliar opponent" in the Seahawks, Manning said the Colts are spending extra time in the film room, studying a team they have not played since 2005, and which now has a different head coach and many different contributors.
"We really don't know a lot about their schemes and personnel," Manning said. "They have some new players since we've played them last. We really need to prepare hard this week."
Mora said the Seahawks face the same challenge.
"It just forces you to dig a little deeper in your preparation as a coach, watch more film, maybe talk to people around the league that have faced them more than you have," he said. "And then it forces your players to do the same."
3) COLTS GOING PINK
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Colts will be adding a little pink to their traditional blue and white on Sunday.
"There are a couple of our (players) that are doing something a little different, in terms of shoes," Caldwell said.
In addition, Caldwell said he will wear something on his hat in respect to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that the team captains will have an embroidered patch on their uniform.
Caldwell, whose mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, said he is happy the Colts can pay respect to a "very, very important cause."
"It's a tough disease, and it is certainly pervasive throughout our society. I'm glad that the NFL and our team are doing some more things to bring recognition to that fact and raising money for that effort."