Colts Looking for First Victory in Lucas Oil Stadium
INDIANAPOLIS – The secret is there is no secret.
So said quarterback Peyton Manning, who this week discussed just why it is the Colts have yet to emerge from Lucas Oil Stadium – the new, state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility in downtown Indianapolis – with a victory.
The reason has nothing to do with the new building. And it has nothing to do with missing the RCA Dome, where the Colts played home games the last 24 seasons.
The reason, Manning said, is actually simple.
"It's just that we haven't played well enough to win the two games," Manning said Wednesday as the Colts (2-2) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) in the third regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I don't feel like it's the stadium or anything that's the reason for it. I just feel like we need to play better football. We need to protect the ball better at home, have fewer penalties and execute a little better. We just have to be a little more sound.
"We can't make some of the mistakes we've made in our two losses."
Not that the Colts haven't come close, or played well at home at times.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions who haven't had a losing record at home in seven seasons, lost the season-opener at home, 29-13, to the Bears. They trailed 15-6 at halftime, but rallied to within two points in third quarter and had possession with a chance to take the lead.
In Week 3, the Colts played host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and led 7-0, 14-10 and 21-20 before a 51-yard Jaguars field goal with :04 remaining.
Two games, two different styles of losses . . .
But no matter the style, Colts defensive end Raheem Brock said, it's a trend that must not continue.
"We have to break that stadium in," Brock said. "We haven't done it yet. It would be good to finally get a win in that stadium this weekend. It's not the stadium, but you want to beak that stadium in. We haven't got a win there yet. It's us. We're not playing sound football. We're not playing fundamental football. We're off and on. We're not consistent.
"That's basically it. It doesn't matter where we play."
Said Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, "Hopefully, we can get that turned a little bit. We need to get a taste of how it is to win at home. We haven't done that yet, so I think this would be a good start.
"I don't know if it's the building or not. I hope not, because if it is, we're in trouble. We just have to get everything going. We have to get everybody to the same page and believing in the system."
As Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett sees it, the striking thing about the Colts' record in Lucas Oil Stadium is how it compares to their record in the RCA Dome in recent seasons.
From 2002-2007, the team had one of the more pronounced home-field advantages in the NFL, winning 38 of 48 games in that span. It was even more pronounced the past three seasons, with Indianapolis winning 21 of 24 regular-season games in the RCA Dome and losing just one game – a 2007 regular-season game to unbeaten New England – with playoff implications at home.
"We need to establish that home-field advantage," Brackett said. "Thus far in this season, we haven't been able to do that. This week, we definitely want to be able to get a win at home. Usually, when you have home games, you count those as wins.
"You have to take care of your home-field advantage, and then everything takes care of itself."
To Dungy, who has emphasized the imance of establishing a strong home-field advantage since his 2002 arrival as head coach, the streak is not a two-game situation. The Colts lost their regular-season finale in the RCA Dome last season, a game against the Tennessee Titans without playoff implications, then lost an AFC Divisional Playoff game to San Diego.
The Colts also lost two preseason games at Lucas Oil Stadium this season.
"It has been a long time since we've won at home," Dungy said. "You factor in the preseason games and the playoff game last year, the Tennessee game – it has been a long, long time.
"We need to get a home winning streak started."
Brackett said it's true there's no secret, and said whatever the reason, an unusual home streak for the Colts must not continue.
"You can't take that stuff for granted," Brackett said. "You can't take for granted that you're home, so that means you're going to win, that you're going to come in and something's going to happen just because of the atmosphere we have at home. I think you have to go out there and set the tempo.
"That starts with us on defense up front. The front seven guys really have to fly around and play stout run defense – gap-oriented defense. That's what we have to get back to.
"If we do that I think we get that home field taken care of."