INDIANAPOLIS –A season with a unique script will have another part of it play out on Sunday when the Colts meet the Ravens in Baltimore.
A team that won with its head coach present last Sunday for the first time in 13 games heard its leader talk the night before playing Houston about keeping momentum going.
It was not quite like Crash Davis telling Nuke LaLoosh not to "mess with a winning streak," but Chuck Pagano cited having intangibles on the team's side to help continue producing tangible results.
"We talked…about 'mojo' and momentum," said Pagano. "The definition of (mojo) is magical spell. We talked about the 'Midas Touch,' the uncanny ability to where everything you touch turns to gold. We said, 'Okay, what's uncanny?' (It's) the supernatural. I don't know if those things are taking place. This team can do and go as far as they want to go."
Pagano saw his team play one of its best games in topping Houston, 28-16. He saw execution, tackling, pluck and a "no-quit" spirit that has been present most of the year.
The dedication to basics and the willingness to aspire were instilled in players by Pagano from the outset. It festered all season and manifested itself to the level that the Colts became only the second team in history to win 11 or more games following a season of two or fewer victories.
Winning nine of its last 11 and finishing well in a closing crunch means things were going the right way because players were working Pagano's process.
"We wanted to play our best football at the end of the year. To win five out of the last six games, to go into that last football game and play a complete game in all three phases and have contributions from everybody (was important), said Pagano. "You want to go in on a high note. You want to go in with that mojo, with that momentum rolling. Playing the way that we played last Sunday and weeks prior to that, we get to go into this ballgame feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Players have bought into Pagano's process all year, embracing grounded truisms, aggressive instruction and motivational methods in an approach to reload rather than rebuild from 2011's 2-14 record.
The "mojo" or "Midas Touch," who cares? Do not ask questions, just play.
"Mojo, I think it's kind of like swag. Just kind of like get that mojo, get that swag," said Dwight Freeney. "It's when things are just, you just can't miss. Things are going right all the time. You better get your mojo back, you just can't get it wrong. This is the time to get hot."
Vontae Davis pirated two passes against Houston to help sway things in the Colts' favor. Davis knows work fuels the process.
"It's like you're on fire, can't nothing stop you. If you've got the mojo, it will be good to keep the mojo," said Davis. "We are playing like we want to go far in the playoffs. Everybody is determined, and the biggest thing we can do is work hard every day in practice and get ready for a good opponent."
Robert Mathis has seen special moments in the post-season, and he related to Andrew Luck the need to have momentum in place this time of year.
"You want to hit your mojo right now, and that's something Robert Mathis has talked about the last couple of weeks, 'Now is the time to get hot. Now is the time to get your mojo going,' " said Luck. "If we can be hitting our mojo right now, that'd be great."
Indianapolis finished with two turnover-free games down the stretch. It limited Houston to 102 rushing yards after consecutive outings of allowing 178 and 352. Momentum was present as Pagano returned.
"He kind of explained to us what (mojo) means, teams that have it versus teams that don't," said Adam Vinatieri. "Carrying the momentum and keeping it going (is a part of it). I think it was Midas that everything they touched turned to gold. That was one of the mojo things, too.
"I don't know if I have a word for it. I do like that we're playing well right now and moving forward."
Having fun with the notion is part of the process. Keeping level headed and dealing with highs and lows is essential, and Pagano has his hand firmly in place.
"Really just focus on preparing for the next game," said Pagano. "There's going to be ebbs and flows. What we try to do is just stay steady, keep it on the highway, so to speak.
"We just try to play 60 minutes, one play at a time. Play with outstanding effort and good things should happen."