INDIANAPOLIS –Questions to players at playoff time sometimes come with the harshness of the 'one-and-done' nature of competition.
Chuck Pagano stated upon his January 2012 arrival the goal was to win a Super Bowl, and his club's second journey starts Saturday at home with Kansas City.
"We're not going to put any added pressure on ourselves," said Pagano. "We sat in the locker room a year ago at this time disappointed after a loss to Baltimore.
"We had a talk and I told those guys, 'Remember, remember this feeling because we're going to be right back here. Just remember the feeling. Let's make sure that once we get in position to do this again, that we don't have the same feeling.' We've been able to keep the blinders on, stay focused and try to not let any of the noise affect our preparation or the way we play."
The goals are larger than Kansas City on Saturday, but the only goal right now is the Chiefs – an 11-5 bunch harboring aspirations of ending a 20-year franchise playoff victory drought.
With 106 players knowing half will go home unfulfilled, Cory Redding says the outcome Saturday determines if 2013 is measured a success.
"Why would that even be a question? It's the playoffs. You've got to win," said Redding. "If you don't win, you go home.
"Why work so hard since April to just get in the playoffs and just lay an egg? To answer that question, we're going to do everything possible to go out and win."
For some to jump to a conclusion that this year's approach is amped because of last year's loss is incorrect.
"(It's the) same team as far as the core guys in the locker room, added with new pieces," said Redding. "(It's) the same mindset, be very dominant, win games, get into the postseason and give ourselves a chance to touch that Vince Lombardi Trophy, period. Everybody bought in, whatever it takes."
Robert Mathis has resided in the post-season for all but one year since 2003. He tasted the sweetest success (Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago) and most bitter taste (Super Bowl XLIV loss to New Orleans) the game can offer.
The six-time Pro Bowler wants to avoid that game again because he has bigger goals in mind.
"We want to win a Super Bowl, point blank, period," said Mathis. "Getting to the playoffs is an accomplishment, but that's not what we signed up for. We signed up for New York. That's our goal."
Donald Brown was a member of that Super Bowl losing Colts team, and he says winning that game is the only real reason to play. It is a philosophy shared by many Colts, who know the only way to accomplish it is by executing on Saturday.
Thirty-four Colts have been in the playoffs before. Among the 19 who have not are 10 rookies who are about to feel the increased intensity of elimination football.
Only five of Redding's 165 career games have come in the post-season, and he wants those younger players to know how special this opportunity is.
"How many injuries we had this year? How many guys we've seen coming in and out these doors? You never know if you have tomorrow," said Redding. "Take advantage of right now and make the most of it as a young guy because you may not have next year.
"The first six years, I couldn't sniff the playoffs, couldn't even think about it. Being able to say I've been in the playoffs for the last four years, it's amazing."
Redding accompanied the Ravens twice past the Wild Card round, then had Baltimore end the Colts' chances last year.
The rock for Indianapolis went to the bottom of the hill. It has been pushed back to the same spot as 51 weeks ago. Redding wants his teammates to notice the moment and define 2013 differently.
"It's an appreciation whether you're a rookie or an 11-year vet," said Redding. "To be in the playoffs is something special. It's something hard to do. It's very hard to win in this league consistently.
"All the things that we've done have got us to this point. We're happy, but we're not satisfied. There is still work to be done."
REDDING TALKS MEETING – Colts players met during the second half of the season about finishing strongly, being accountable and performing the roles each had on the team. It was a productive session different in nature than what some "players meetings" have meant on other teams.
"It was an important moment for us as a defensive unit, and the results are where they are now. We finished December strong," said Redding. "It was basically just coming together, putting things out on the table as a unit. Get anything that's going to hold us back from achieving our goal out in the open and, 'Let's talk about it, let's hash it out and let's get to playing football fun and together as a unit.' That's what we did."