Approach Will Remain Same After Week 2 Victory as After Week 1 Loss, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Caldwell said the approach won't change.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said Monday afternoon just as there was little to be gained from dwelling on the past a week ago in difficult times there is just as little to be gained from savoring success too long.
Yes, the feeling was good around the Colts Monday, but there is still work to do – a lot of it.
And Caldwell said the focus is now clear:
The Denver Broncos, who the Colts will visit Sunday.
"We just have to focus in on looking ahead," Caldwell said Monday, less than a day after the Colts' 38-14 victory over the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday night.
"That's what I try to do with the team: 'Let's just look forward. Look at exactly what we have to face this coming week.' It's a very, very difficult task.
"It's going to take everything we have and a little more to get prepared for a very solid Denver team."
The Colts (1-1, second in the AFC South), a week after losing to the Houston Texans, 34-24, in the regular-season opener, turned in a complete performance Sunday, outgaining the Giants, 410-257 and registering 24 first downs to 13 for New York.
"It was very imant," defensive end Robert Mathis. "We can't get to where we want to get without doing what we have to do. We came out and did what we have to do."
The Colts, after taking an early 7-0 lead with an efficient first drive, led 24-0 by halftime, securing the victory in the third quarter when defensive tackle Fili Moala recovered a fumble for a touchdown after a sack/fumble by Freeney, a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
"It was huge – just from last week, the way we came out wasn't how we wanted to start the season off," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. "To come back home in front of our fans and play the way we played in all three phases of the game was huge for the team and huge for the players.
"I think we can just build on this."
The victory allowed the Colts to avert their first 0-2 start since 1998.
"It was good," Caldwell said. "Our guys have a lot of pride and certainly practiced extremely well. They played just like they practiced. We had very good practice and kept getting better all week long."
The Colts, a week after allowing two sacks and multiple quarterback hurries, held the Giants to one sack and Indianapolis also turned in one of its better running games in recent seasons. The Colts rushed for 124 yards on 23 first-half carries and their 43 carries were the most for the team in a game in quarterback Peyton Manning's 13 seasons.
"I think in terms of the line itself, it did a nice job controlling the line of scrimmage," Caldwell said. "Obviously, there were some guys who played and played well. It was also just a real point of emphasis just in terms of shoring up a little bit better in terms of pass protection. I think our guys took the challenge. I think they played better."
Manning, a week after throwing a career-high 57 passes, completed 20 of 26 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 145.5.
"We knew we wanted to be a bit more balanced, but oftentimes it just depends on how the game goes," Caldwell said.
A week after the Colts allowed 257 yards rushing to the Texans, Indianapolis on Sunday held New York to 120 yards rushing, and Dwight Freeney and Mathis each registered a pair of sacks.
"Here's the key: You see those guys come to the forefront and you see their skills and abilities highlighted when we can stop the run," Caldwell said. "You stop the run and it puts teams in more of a passing mode. That lends itself to those guys really getting up field and creating some problems."
Said Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden, "We responded to a bad game, and we just want to continue to improve."
Caldwell, asked to put the past week – not only the season-opening loss but the victory Sunday – into perspective, said, "I'm not a big person on looking back."
"That game is beyond us," he said. "It is what it is. We didn't play well, but I like to look ahead. We played pretty well (Sunday) and we have a lot of work ahead of us this coming week. I don't believe in putting labels on things. We can't do anything about that game. That game is done, just like the game Sunday. That one is over with. I'd revisit it a thousand times if there was something to be gained from it, but I don't think there is."
With the victory, the Colts moved into a second-place tie in the AFC South with Jacksonville and Tennessee. The three teams remain a game behind Houston, which rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to beat the Washington Redskins, 30-27, in overtime in Washington Sunday.
The Colts led the AFC South the entire season in 2003, 2005-07 and last season en route to division titles. They also won the division in 2004 after taking over first place midway through the season. The only season since the division's 2002 inception in which the Colts did not hold sole possession of the lead at some time in the season was 2008, when they made the playoffs as a wild card with a 12-4 record.
"It's not like it's never happened to us before, obviously," Caldwell said of being in second place after two weeks. "I'm not an overview guy. I'm a one-week-at-a-time guy. That's how I function. That's how my life is built. All I know is I have a job today. I don't know about tomorrow. I know who we're playing this week, and that's what we focus in on.
"It's a little different for us, but what's not different is we have a big challenge ahead."