INDIANAPOLIS – It could have been the final time Chuck Pagano addressed his team before a game in the 2014 season.
As Pagano stood in front of his 11-5 Colts last Saturday night, he focused in on one player to start off his speech.
"Make good decisions with the ball, be the leader we need you to be. Go out there and do what you do," Pagano said in the direction of one Andrew Luck.
After finishing with his star quarterback, Pagano moved on to the rest of the team. But it was the words he said to his signal caller that resonated with Cory Redding.
"That set the tone," Redding said of Pagano beginning with Luck.
"(Luck) loves that, he feeds off that. Knowing that we are going to get the best from him and we've got to meet him halfway. We've got to do our job, too."
The words that Pagano directed towards Luck were just that. Words.
It was up to Luck to act on his head coach's message, in a game that could have ended with lockers being packed and vacations starting.
Luck took Pagano's words and delivered with a performance his head coach believes might have been the best ever for the three-time Pro Bowler.
A 31-for-44, 376-yard, one-touchdown afternoon weren't the most gaudy numbers Luck has put up in his career but considering the stage, it was hard to argue with Pagano's assessment.
Ball security was at a premium from Luck, allowing the Colts to produce six scoring drives and seize control from the first series.
Rightfully so or not, quarterbacks are often defined by how they play in the month of January.
With teams so evenly matched in the postseason, outstanding play from the quarterback position often is the difference between advancing and watching your season disintegrate.
"(Luck) needs to put this team on his back and take this thing over and get that Aaron Rodgers spirit," Colts Owner Jim Irsay told NFL.com after the Colts Wild Card victory.
"He and I talked about it before the game, and then he went out and did it. And if he keeps it going, we could go a long way."
The path of that journey takes the Colts to Denver this weekend where Peyton Manning is the opposing quarterback.
Luck has followed Manning's tenure in Indianapolis and has rewritten virtually everyone of No. 18's passing records through three seasons.
Those accomplishments aren't even a blip on Luck's radar this week.
The focus is facing five Pro Bowlers on the Broncos defense, and far from worrying about some comparison chart that will inevitably be shown of the two quarterbacks during Sunday's broadcast.
When the Colts parted ways with Manning back in early 2012, a game like the one coming Sunday was a sporting fan's dream.
It comes this weekend, thanks to the unfathomable longevity of Manning, and the remarkable poise of Luck.
"(Luck) just understands defense, sees things even though it might not be on tape," Pagano said. "If somebody tries to throw a different wrinkle at him from a schematic standpoint, a new blitz, a new look, whatever it is, he's able to recall those things and go back and manage bad plays as Pep (Hamilton) likes to call it and get us in the right play.
"He does a great job of running our offense. He can do everything from the line of scrimmage. We put a lot on his plate and he's able to handle it and manage those things."
Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning meet after the Colts vs Broncos game in Denver.