INDIANAPOLIS –Pep Hamilton is like every NFL coordinator in that he has seen his offense achieve and have moments of struggle.
Like any prize fight, the attack absorbs shots, but it has found a way to help Indianapolis produce a .667 winning percentage through 12 games.
"I think we've done a decent job up until this point," said Hamilton. "We are 8-4, and we've won three out of our last five games. At times, you would think that's not the case."
Though coaches do not address how injuries have affected the season, Indianapolis has lost multiple offensive starters, including two opening rushers – Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw – a budding star in Dwayne Allen and a receiver – Reggie Wayne – whose 1,000-plus receptions may take him to Canton.
The offense has struggled, and some observers take Hamilton to task.
"I do understand that we want to start fast," said Hamilton. "As of late, we've been like the Rocky Balboa of the National Football League. We get bloodied up, but we find a way to finish on top, and we're going to do that."
Hamilton admits more production is needed on early downs so an offense that has converted five-of-34 third downs in the last five games can improve in that area.
Putting players in positions to succeed could include tempo and play selection.
"I think it's a combination of all of the above," said Hamilton. "It's doing the things that we feel like we need to do to get a few more yards on first and second down.
"We have our times. We have our moments where we get hot and we're able to move the ball and score touchdowns. We got to make it a point of emphasis, as we always have, to find a way to get started a lot faster in our games."
In getting two early leads against Tennessee last week, Indianapolis nudged ahead in the first half of a game for the first time in five weeks.
The 12-7 halftime lead came on four Adam Vinatieri field goals, and a fifth allowed the Colts to re-take the lead in the third quarter. A game-sealing 92-yard touchdown drive saw Indianapolis run for 78 yards, and Hamilton feels the attack is built to work well late.
"By the time you get to the fourth quarter, the defense (starts) to wear down a bit," said Hamilton. "We feel like that's what we're built for.
"We're built for the fourth quarter of the football season, where defenses are tired, they're worn and playing with guys that are a bit hobbled. It's not as easy to take on the double-team blocks. That's our formula to find a way to finish games running the football."
Last week, Andrew Luck absorbed a career-high five sacks among seven hits. Opponents have gotten to him in each game, eight times on multiple occasions.
The line has battled injuries like other units, and protecting a quarterback is a responsibility placed on everyone.
"It's always been a goal of ours to keep him (Luck) upright and healthy," said Hamilton. "It's really one of the few mandates that Coach Pagano has given me and the staff. We have to run the football, protect the quarterback and score, in no particular order.
"It's so many components. You know in pressure situations or obvious passing situations like third down, the defense has a built-in advantage. We got to do a great job of protecting him and handling the pressure, giving him an opportunity to do what he can do best. That's make plays for our offense."
Hamilton may see his first game in inclement weather at Cincinnati. Forecasts call for the chance of snow with accumulation.
Hamilton sees no obstacle for the offense.
"I think that should hopefully play in our favor. We consider ourselves to be a mentally tough bunch," said Hamilton. "We can overcome the elements. There are no excuses for us not to go out and play good offensive football."