INDIANAPOLIS – The feeling last Sunday in the Colts' locker room after a 44-20 loss to Buffalo was one of deep disappointment.
Head Coach Chuck Pagano walked into the locker room ahead of his team and waited for the players and coaches to assemble.
Pagano addressed the group tactfully and forcefully while saying the performance was not what he or anyone else with the club wanted.
Jim Irsay and Ryan Grigson were just a few feet away absorbing Pagano's message while dealing with their own feelings.
It was a final week of training camp where all parties knew improvement was essential.
Though the scoreboard read 10-3 in the Colts' favor when the starters on both sides of the ball exited, the final score hung heavy in everyone's mind because the start of the season is approaching and the bar is set high for a team that jumped nine games in won-loss column to finish with a playoff-qualifying 11-5 record.
Last year's Colts team posted victories after each loss in the regular season. While this is not the regular season, winning is on the minds of everyone affiliated with the Colts as they enter the Giants' lair.
"We always expect to go out and win," said Pagano. "Our goal is to go out and play to win each and every ballgame. That's why we're here."
It takes all sides of play complementing each other to win in the NFL. Last week, mental and physical error, turnovers and two long returns helped spell a disappointing verdict.
The front-line offense suffered a turnover on the second drive and though Buffalo returned the miscue and the Colts got a field goal, it was not the execution anybody expected.
The defense allowed two long runs from deep in Buffalo's territory to start the game, and the Indianapolis defense never set a tone during the contest.
Pagano, Grigson, Irsay and Greg Manusky expect more from the unit, particularly against the run, and tonight's game will be the next chance to set the identity sought in Indianapolis.
"We want to be and expect to be a dominant defense," said Pagano. "We'd love to be a top five defense in the NFL."
Every season is a battle of duration. Nothing is won or lost in preseason. Building to sustain the length of a season is a must, and Grigson did like the progress he saw in training camp.
"I am definitely pleased, but we are never satisfied," said Grigson. "The biggest things that have jumped out to me thus far are the overall tempo and attitude the team has as a whole.
"There is a camaraderie and cohesiveness that you can see not only within the specific position groups but as a team in general. I am also encouraged by the way the guys on offense have assimilated to the new system in such a short time."
That said, today is game day. It is a weekly measuring stick regardless of whether it is a league game or one that leads up to action that determines a playoff fate.
"We've got to get better. It was glaring (last week)," said Grigson (click here for things to look for). "Everyone is accountable in our entire building and Jim (Irsay) expects excellence, and so do we.
"It (last week's loss) was kind of nice in a sense. It's good for us because it shows what we need to work on, the things we need to do to get better. It's what the preseason is for, and I think it ends up being a blessing in disguise."
GAME NOTES – The Colts and Giants have met 12 times in preseason play, with the Colts owning a 7-5 edge. The last preseason match-up was on August 11, 1984. It was the first game the Colts played in Indianapolis. There have been 299 since then counting preseason, regular season and the playoffs.
The preseason series has been waged in a number of neutral sites since the inception of play in 1953 – St. Louis, Minneapolis, Boston, Louisville, Dallas, New Haven, New York, Baltimore and Indianapolis.
Starters tonight are expected to play into the second quarter and perhaps until halftime. A targeted number of plays for Andrew Luck and the starting offense are 25-to-30. Last week, the starters were together for 10 snaps.
Former Colts QB-Curtis Painter is vying with David Carr for a roster spot behind Eli Manning.
LB-Bjoern Werner is returning to the area where he prepped at Salisbury (Conn.) High School after moving from Berlin and prior to attending Florida State.
This is the Colts' second-ever appearance in MetLife Stadium. Indianapolis dropped a 35-9 decision there last year to the New York Jets.
The Colts have won more road games (28, regular season and playoffs) in New York than in any other NFL city.