Colts Play Host to Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS – As Jim Caldwell sees it, the goal this week is clear.
And while Caldwell – in his second season as the Colts' head coach – said the goal is about Sunday's game against one of the NFL's most-improved teams and while it's also about winning, it is just as much about something more long-term.
The Colts are 2-2. As Caldwell sees it, they have played well at times; other times, not as much.
Thus, Caldwell said, the Colts' objective:
Do what they're capable of, and do it a lot more often.
"One of the things, I think, we've been experiencing is just so much inconsistency," Caldwell said as the Colts prepared to play the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) – the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team – at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Typically, we've been able to put back-to-back quarters together where we've played extremely well and string them along game after game after game, but we've been rather sdic.
"Maybe one side of the ball is clicking, the other side is not. I think the inconsistent play probably has as much to do with it as anything else. Home and away for us, we've certainly been able to play well on the road, and we've been able to play well at home.
"That's what we have to get back to."
The Colts, AFC South champions six of the last seven seasons and AFC Champions two of the last four, began the season with a 34-24 loss to the Houston Texans. They then registered double-digit victories at home over the New York Giants (38-14) and on the road against the Denver Broncos (27-13) before losing, 31-28, at Jacksonville this past weekend.
With quarterback Peyton Manning passing for 11 touchdowns and one interception through three games, the Colts rank second in the NFL in scoring offense at 29.3 points per game, third in the NFL in total yards (411 yards per game) and second in passing yards (335.5).
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne is first in the NFL with 33 receptions for 456 yards, and wide receiver Austin Collie is tied for second with 32 receptions for 398 yards. Tight end Dallas Clark is fifth in the NFL with 28 receptions for 275 yards.
The Colts have been less consistent defensively, allowing 257 yards rushing in the regular-season opener against Houston, then following that with a dominant performance on Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants.
The Colts held New York to 13 first downs and 257 yards total offense. Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney registered two sacks and two forced fumbles and Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis registered two sacks and a forced fumble.
"Right now, we're not playing consistent football," Freeney said. "It is what it is. Not doing the things you're supposed to be doing on a consistent basis, you're going to get exposed. We definitely do have some things we need to work on defensively. That's no surprise, but we'll get it fixed – and hopefully sooner than later, and hopefully this week."
The week after the Giants victory, the Colts allowed Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton 476 yards passing, but held Denver to 47 rushing yards and – most importantly, Freeney and others around the Colts said afterward – held the Broncos to 13 points. The Colts held Denver to six points in five red-zone trips.
Against Jacksonville, the Colts allowed three touchdowns in three red-zone trips.
"The last two weeks, there have been some inconsistencies," Freeney said. "Hats off to the teams we've played. We've been exposed to certain things, but a lot of it is self-inflicted. That's a good thing and a bad thing. It's a bad thing from the standpoint that we have to be more consistent."
Freeney said considering the Colts have allowed 431 yards rushing in two losses – and considering the Chiefs' status as the NFL's third-leading rushing offense – there's little mystery to Kansas City's likely approach Sunday.
"There's no surprise," Freeney said. "They're going to come in here and they're going to run the ball. They've run the ball against every other team they've played. Definitely, it's no different now."
The Colts, who have made the playoffs an NFL-high eight consecutive seasons and who have won 12 or more games in an NFL-record seven consecutive seasons, are .500 at the quarter mark of the season for the second time since 2001.
The last time: 2008, when they began the season 3-4 before winning nine consecutive games to qualify for the post-season as a wild-card team.
That experience is something that can be drawn upon, Colts safety Antoine Bethea said.
"It was a time where we weren't where we wanted to be," Bethea said. "At that time, (then-Head) Coach (Tony) Dungy said, 'Look, we'll take it one game at a time.' We went on a run. We won nine games straight, because we went on a run and took it one game at a time.
"We did what we had to do and corrected what we had to get corrected. We got it done. It's just the first quarter. We're 2-2. We'll start the second quarter, and we'll continue to take one game at a time. We don't need to panic. There are corrections that need to be made. As professionals, I think we'll do that."
Said Caldwell, "We are going into the second quarter of the season now and so that's where our focus is. There is still a ways to go. One or two wins here or there early certainly make a big difference.
"Certainly we know where we are after the first quarter. I mean we're a .500 team, but I don't believe that's who we are. I think that you find that teams throughout the year just continue to develop, and we have to be one of those teams that continually improves. We have the opportunity to do so.
"We just have to come back out and go right back to work and see if we can put it all together."