INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts have shown an ability to bounce back from defeats in 2012 by winning each time.
A factor that has been an accurate barometer in outcomes is one that is as old as the ages, the turnover battle.
Indianapolis stands at minus-eight after five games. The Colts join 14 other teams on the minus side of the critical ratio and of those teams, only Minnesota (4-2) and Seattle (4-2) have winning records.
The club's ratio ties for 29th in the league and has been built totally off two road performances.
The Colts were minus-four in outings at Chicago and New York, committing a total of nine giveaways. All nine have come after linebacker Jerrell Freeman opened the season with a scoring interception return on the Colts' second defensive possession.
After turnovers helped spell a 41-21 loss to the Bears, Head Coach Chuck Pagano summed up the aftermath, "I told them that any time you're minus-four, you won't beat Carmel High School or Zionsville. You won't, I don't care who you're playing. At the end of the day, if you're minus-four in the turnover stat, it's really hard to overcome."
Indianapolis heeded its coach's advice by not committing a turnover the next week against Minnesota. The Colts led most of the way in earning a 23-20 victory.
Indianapolis had a minus-one deficit against Jacksonville in a 22-17 loss, failing to produce a takeaway in the divisional battle. The Colts and Green Bay swapped interceptions on October 7, and Indianapolis bounced back as a 30-27 winner from a 21-3 hole following the theft by cornerback Jerraud Powers. The interception came at the Green Bay 30, flipping the field and igniting the rally.
Last Sunday was a different story. The season's second road game saw a second minus-four result in turnovers. The Jets scored two touchdowns from takeaways on the way to a 35-9 victory.
After the Chicago game, Pagano commented that turnovers can change a game perhaps like no other statistic, and he pinned that area as the part of the game that most likely determines the outcome.
Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians and Pagano are united at the football hip as it relates to many philosophies. Ball security is at the top Arians' list.
"Number one, especially on the road," said Arians of the priority of securing the ball. "I think we've got (nine) giveaways, one takeaway on the road. You're not going to beat anyone on the road that way. At home, it's the other way around, I think we have two.
"It's something that we went into the game talking about. Sometimes when you talk too much about something, it happens. We talked about not giving them the short field and making them earn it. We turned the ball over way too many times."
Two of the miscues came in Indianapolis territory. The Jets took over once at the Colts' 35 and another time at the 14. Both drives produced touchdowns.
Of the club's 11 giveaways (seven interceptions, four fumbles) in 2012, four have come in its own end of the field. Opponents have scored on each of those occasions, totaling 20 points. For the season, Indianapolis is minus-six in points resulting from turnovers (23-17).
Quarterback Andrew Luck has had a very solid start to what will be a promising career. As a player who handles the ball on every offensive snap, he is at a bigger risk of turnovers than any other Colt. On Monday, he mentioned areas that can be targeted to eliminate those problems.
"I think it's a couple things, simple things," said Luck. "One, (is) keeping two hands on the ball when you're in the pocket and dropping back. Not forcing balls into the end zone when it's in the red zone and when it's first-and-10. Take the check down, throw it away, live to fight another day."
He is a fierce competitor who wants to maximize every opportunity. Sometimes maximizing a possession is living for the next play against an aggressive defense.
"Realize when it's okay to throw away a ball as opposed to when you need to force it in there," said Luck of being judicious. "It's a lot of little things, but I think it is things that can be corrected. I'll work on it and as a team we'll work on it this week and hopefully get better."
Turnovers do not always come as the result of one player. Football is the most complete team sport on the landscape. Guard Mike McGlynn is a veteran presence who capsulized the outing at New York in basic terms.
"Turnovers come from pressure, they come from a whole slew of things," said McGlynn. "(Sunday), we turned the ball over four times. That's way too many. On that road, it's almost automatic you won't overcome it. Even one turnover alone on the road, it's hard to overcome.
"You have to make sure that when you go into a hostile environment that everything is tightened up. It's a team loss. Special teams, offense, defense, we shot ourselves in the foot in all three phases. We didn't give ourselves a chance from the beginning."
Running back Vick Ballard had his first career start last Sunday and gave a solid accounting of himself. Ballard may be in line for the same duty this week against Cleveland.
A player who likes extended action to find a rhythm, Ballard knows securing the ball to provide a chance to get more touches is something that can only help.
"We obviously have to take care of the ball," said Ballard. "Attention to detail, execution, whenever we do those things, good things will happen."