INDIANAPOLIS — Break out the clichés. They all apply.
The Indianapolis Colts turned in a true team win on Sunday afternoon in Nashville, seeing a lead disappear and then coming from behind late to defeat the Tennessee Titans, 34-26, at LP Field.
A behind the scenes look at the Colts locker room following their win over the Titans.
In the end, the Colts needed a final lengthy drive from their offense to pull ahead for good, and, for good measure, the Indianapolis defense put a lid on it on the Titans' ensuing possession, as T.Y. McGill would strip quarterback Macrus Mariota, and Robert Mathis would pick it up and run it into the end zone from 14 yards out for the final exclamation point.
A similar formula to Sunday's game has applied pretty much each and every week for the Colts (3-4) this season. But all that matters is they got onto the team plane in Nashville with a win, and a little momentum heading into Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson talked about the win Monday in their weekly appearances on "Colts Roundtable Live," which airs on 1070 The Fan.
"Guys made plays, and again, this team, they're going to play with tremendous effort," Pagano said. "I was so proud, as were the coaches, of these guy's resiliency, like you talked about, their effort, their will to win. They did obviously just enough to pull this thing out.
"They weren't going to be denied."
Pagano said the game was certainly draining, both physically and mentally, for the players on the field. But the Indianapolis coaching staff put everything it had into making sure those responsible for making the plays had every available resource to do their job the best they could.
"Mentally and physically, I know the players are drained, but I know the coaches are just as mentally and physically drained," Pagano said. "That was a draining ballgame. And you go in there with your backs against the wall, and I guarantee it: nobody thought that we could pull that off except for everybody that got on that plane that flew down there, players and coaches."
In the end, Pagano said the Colts "drew a line in the sand."
"And we had to have that win, and we found a way to get the job done," he said.
Here's some other highlights from Monday's show, including some calls and questions from fans fielded by Grigson:
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson:
On his reaction to Sunday's victory against the Titans:
Wins are fun. Obviously, the locker room is the place to be after a win, and we've had some tough sledding here early in the (season); there's been some rough locker rooms and some tough settings for us. But, you know, the quick flight home with the win — sometimes on the win you don't mind if it's a longer flight — but it was nice to bounce back. And it's kind of the spirit and the nature of this team since I've been here, is we usually right the ship and get things going the right direction. That's what I feel we're doing.
On tight end Jack Doyle's rise:**
I mean, when we scouted him in that process leading up to the cut-down, we were in a very tight end-heavy offense, and we needed to have tight ends in this offense. We actually claimed two at the cut-down — one of the other ones was here for a little while and has been starting some games for the Chargers. And he was not the finished product by any means. But scouting, a lot of times, you have to look glass-half-full, and you have to almost project from the skillset that you're seeing — maybe not consistently, but you see enough flashes you've got to almost in your mind kind of create the player to what he can be, because if he's a finished product he's not going anywhere. He's not going to be on that wire. So you have to think in those types of way to be able to acquire talent, if you follow me. So he was that way, and I tell you, I remember vividly when I was watching him, and he physically wasn't the most imposing guy, he didn't have great speed, but what we were looking for was a true Y, and he had that. He was a combo guy. And there was a play against James Harrison — and James Harrison, one of the toughest son of a guns to ever come down the pike; I scouted him at Kent State, and just tough, tough guy — and I saw Jack get tied up with him and finish him, and James got up and Jack didn't back down. And I'm thinking, 'Well, this guy, he's got the stuff it takes. He's got that 'it' factor.' And we claimed him, and as time went on, we just realized — I think all of us, to a man, in this building — he out-did any true expectations we had out of him, whether it be on special teams, whether it be as a move tight end and just adjusting on the move and being a fullback-type guy. I mean, he does a lot of things — he checks off a lot of boxes. And that doesn't even include the intangibles. I think that with Jack — and I can gloat about someone like him, because you never worry about a guy like Jack Doyle getting a big head. Like if there was ever a definition of a 'Horseshoe Guy,' I think Andrew Luck, I think all those guys in that locker room would put his face up there as what the Horseshoe is about, and you trust him with your life, you trust him to watch your one-day-old infant — I mean, you let him marry your daughter. He's just one of those guys."
On some relatively unknown guys like Devin Street, Tevaun Smith, Edwin Jackson, making plays for the team:
Energy. Energy. They make plays. And it doesn't matter if it's 12 plays Edwin's in, he's making himself relevant. Those are the guys that start trending towards getting time on the field, because they go out there and they produce. T.Y. McGill has produced, last year in big ways, he did in the preseason, he had a bit of a lull early in the season, but boy did he respond yesterday. Edwin, and you said Street, he had some drops yesterday, but what I liked about him and our team as a whole is we all bounce back. Devin takes that hard shot — a lot of guys aren't going to go back out and catch a critical ball in the middle of the field, and with outstretched arms, you know? Same as Patrick Robinson. I mean, everyone left him for dead. He made a heck of a play yesterday, like he does at practice whenever he's out there. Those are encouraging things, when you see those guys go out there and do those types of things in a limited amount of plays.
On how much a win like Sunday's, on the road, in the division, help as the team goes on for its last nine games of the year:
I mean, every week's different. It can't hurt. It sure feels a lot better here than it did last week. Again, a lot of teams could've folded and went in the tank after a devastating loss like that. I think what it does is it improves the confidence of everyone, and I think that is contagious. So we've just got to go back out there with that, and want that feeling again like we had in the locker room yesterday. And you've got to get in a rhythm and everyone's going in the right direction, rowing together, and hopefully we start stacking some wins.Inbox question, asking if the Colts be active for a trade before the deadline?
Grigson: "Well, I think maybe there's some misconceptions about it. It's not like baseball; it's not as active as baseball. But, we've done so much trading in the past, I'll usually get some text messages or some phone calls, and I'm sure there will be some coming my way — and there have been. But they've got to make sense. And there's a lot of things that we do as a staff, and if a name comes across and they don't work from a financial perspective or they're not a fit or they don't upgrade us, then that's not a situation where we're going to do anything. And again, people are always looking for picks. It's not always player-for-player this time of year. Those picks are like gold, and they're hard to part with — especially now for us."
Inbox question, asking if he thinks Andrew Luck — despite the fact he's playing well — is playing "too safe" this year compared to last?
Grigson: "Nah, I think he's playing smart. He's putting us in the best position to win, not turning the ball over. Andrew is doing a great job. I feel like the offensive line is coming along. Yesterday was as clean as I've seen it up front. And it was good to see. It was good to see him getting to his fourth read, and so forth, and that was good. And we had, you know, four starters out, I believe — or three and a half, technically, I guess — but that was really good to see, those guys show up and make plays in the stead of some players that had been the usual starters."
Follow up question: With receivers being so open against the Titans, part of that was because of the good protection?
Grigson: "Yeah, it makes a difference. And we feel like we're very talented at the skill position. I think that Mo Alie-Cox really made a statement yesterday with his athleticism and his ability to make plays down the field. He can really run, and he's got to become more consistent obviously, but for a guy who had never played football before, he's becoming a threat in the passing game. And the way he can adjust and the athleticism he displays is encouraging for us. And he actually is making strides as a blocker. That's something that, off the film, that is most encouraging. Because he's here because you know that he can elevate, he can run, he's athletic, he's got a great body, but what he needs to be to be a complete player in this sport is to be able to block and do those things, and the light's really coming on."
Caller Josh, asking how he thinks the Colts will approach this next week getting things cleaned up? It was almost the same situation we had in Houston, but at least we came out with the win.
Grigson: "Definitely still need to clean some things up. We've still got to be a better tackling team as a whole, we've got to not make mistakes and critical errors at critical times, obviously. But they're shrinking. And I think as long as we continue to make strides each week in those areas we'll get better. But I think with a strong practice this week — we know what we're going to face; a very well-coached team, it's a talented team that Andy Reid has; any team Andy Reid has at the helm, we've got great respect for him, I worked for him for a long time — so we know the type of foe we're going to face. They run a really good offense; their running back, Spencer Ware, is someone we liked coming out. He's a big kid that got a lot of skills. And again, they're a talented bunch on both sides of the ball. The last time they came here — their front is a formidable front, and we're going to have to be on our Ps and Qs."
Caller Steve, asking if there's any injury updates on Dwayne Allen and Donte Moncrief?
Grigson: "We meet with the docs tonight. We'll see how the week progresses. I don't think they're too far away. But as coach said, I believe he's said they're week-to-week. I'm hopeful that they come back sooner, but we'll have to see how this week goes."
Caller Paul, who feels the team is getting the ship righted and building to something towards the end of the season.
Grigson: "I feel the same. Our running back situation with Frank, he breaks Jim Brown's record, he's unparalleled in terms of the way he prepares and his toughness and his love of the game. I think he energizes that whole offense. He appreciates that offensive line like no other. You know, every game ball that gets thrown his way, he throws it right back to the offensive line. I was just talking to Coach (Pagano) five minutes ago about the line. I think we've gotten more moving up front than we ever have; the lanes are there more than they've ever been; you're seeing a lot less hits on contact at the line of scrimmage like we had in the past. There's places for those backs to go, and I think that speaks to the cohesion, it speaks to the line progressing and getting movement. It speaks to Joe Philbin. I think this thing is a work in progress — we have the talent, I think. And then Robert Turbin, I think when he's had his shots, he's done some really good things for us, you know? And I think that Robert is someone that, when called upon, is going to be able to help us, as well. Last thing I'll say about that is, Frank has been so helpful to this offense doing what it's been doing week-in and week-out and the points it's putting up because of the ability on third down to protect. I mean, he's been outstanding as a pass protector. So that's a key component to this offense that sometimes gets overlooked."
Follow up question: And what does Gore weigh, 220? And he's got guys coming at him that are 330, and he still manages to get them blocked.
Grigson: "He's tough. He's a tough nut."
Caller Isaac, asking if there might be more designed running plays involving Andrew Luck?
Grigson: "I really couldn't tell you. That play I saw, I hadn't seen that. But I'll tell you, I think Andrew does have some levity to do some things at the line of scrimmage sometimes if he sees something. I know the idea is for him to not expose himself, but if there's an ability to get a chunk and a first down, I don't think Andrew will use his legs and do the right thing with the ball. So he's going to use the athleticism that God gave him, and the speed, if there's some open space. So we welcome those types of situations."
Caller Greg, asking why, with 33 seconds left in the first half with two timeouts on Sunday, the team give it a shot and try to at least get into field goal range?
Grigson: "I can understand some of the questions and so forth, but I think having the lead, Coach (Pagano) wanted to be smart. And that was coach's call, and we stand by it."
Follow up question: If something bad happens, then people are calling and saying, 'Why didn't you just take a knee?'