INDIANAPOLIS – During his time with Indianapolis, quarterback Dan Orlovsky has used the term "what have you done for me lately" to describe the unrelenting nature of the NFL.
The seventh-year pro is attuned finely to the reality of the business and the weekly challenges it presents.
Orlovsky is coming off the first starting victory of his career. Indianapolis topped Tennessee last week, 27-13. It was Orlovsky's 10th career start (his third with the Colts) and the 19th outing of his career.
It is only natural and understandable that he would have feelings about his first win, but those feelings for himself and his teammates were spent quickly. He and the club have a shorter weekly cycle to get ready to fight again. Houston looms quickly on Thursday.
"It was nice for us to get one, but that is over with," said Orlovsky. "We quickly moved on to Houston (Monday) morning, so we're focused on them and they do enough to get our attention."
Indianapolis is the third team for whom Orlovsky has played. He spent 2005-08 with Detroit, where he started seven of 12 appearances. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons in Houston, where he saw brief action only once and had no passing totals.
Orlovsky signed with the Colts in training camp and spent the duration of it with the team before being waived at the start of the season. He was out of the league for the first three games before re-joining Indianapolis when starting quarterback Kerry Collins had his season ended with a concussion.
Orlovsky has fought along with his Colts teammates in a difficult season. He was happy to see the work and commitment of his teammates be rewarded with last Sunday's result.
"To continue to come in and work the way we have worked and play on Sundays and not reap the benefits, it gets difficult. It gets frustrating," said Orlovsky. "I think that is one of the most difficult parts about it. To finally go out and play the way that we think we are capable of playing and reap the benefits of our hard work, it definitely gives you some confidence. At the same time, I think all of us in this locker room know it's literally a week-to-week thing in this league. It was nice for us, but we've moved on.
"We know the problems and the challenge that Houston presents to us and how well they're playing. It will be another good opportunity for us Thursday night."
When Orlovsky was released by Indianapolis, he was a member of the viewing public as the Colts visited the Texans in the opener. Indianapolis fell behind quickly in the game with an uneven performance offensively. The Texans moved to a 34-0 halftime advantage, and the Colts' only points came in the final period. Orlovsky witnessed the struggle and pinpoints what the club wants to do differently this time.
"I definitely watched it. What I took away was we probably didn't play as well as we had hoped," he said. "(The team) dug a hole quickly with some turnovers and giving them some short fields. It will be a big deal to continue to protect the football on offense and not give away free possessions. I think it's a learning experience when you play against somebody and don't play as well as you want to build upon for the next time you do."
Since the first meeting, Houston has gone on to win the AFC South for the first time. The Texans clinched the title two weeks ago, then dropped a 28-13 home game to Carolina last Sunday. Orlovsky knows the Houston personnel well from his two years there, but he does not feel familiarity is more important than execution.
"The teams play each other enough and have had enough big games against each other the last couple of years that you know enough about each other," said Orlovsky. "Obviously, me being there practicing against those guys basically every day, I certainly know the kind of players they are. At the end of the day, it's going to come down to us going out and playing and executing. It's not like either team is a big team that is going to try and confuse the other a ton. Each team lines up and kind of does what they do. It's about going out and doing it better than the other guy consistently. They know me just as well as I know them."
Indianapolis provided Orlovsky with a big boost last week by rushing for 205 yards against Tennessee. It was the best rushing output for the team since 2007, and the club's 34 attempts were the most since 43 against the New York Giants early last year. The Colts threw but 17 times in an odd occurrence where rushes doubled passing attempts two-to-one in the attack. Even greater than dependable check-down receivers, Orlovsky feels a solid rushing attack is a security blanket.
"Every time you can run the ball as effectively as we did (against Tennessee), it's a quarterback's best friend," said Orlovsky. "More teams commit another guy to the box. It means you get one-on-one, free-access throws on the outside. I think it's a big thing. It was a great day for us.
"Hopefully, we can continue to build on it and put another one on the board. It will be tough. They're a really good front, really good against the run. It will be a challenge for us. I think our guys up front are up to it. They obviously played extremely well (last Sunday). Our backs ran well. It will be another good test for us."
Orlovsky got into the rushing game by throwing a key block on running back Donald Brown's 80-yard scoring run with less than four minutes ago. The run gave Indianapolis a 14-point cushion, and it was set up when Orlovsky nicked a Tennessee defender when Brown reversed field behind the scrimmage line. The signal-caller kids that the block will not go down in instructional manuals.
"You're throwing the work "block" around real loosely. (It was more like) running into (the defender)," said Orlovsky. "It certainly was fun. Obviously, to have it with Don (Donald Brown, a fellow Connecticut Husky) was pretty cool. The biggest thing was that it was kind of a clincher for us in the win. I'm sure it's not going to be on any teach tape."
The play swung open the game late and allowed Indianapolis to post its first win of the season. After laboring to get a win here and for the first time in his starting career, Orlovsky could have expected to hear from well-wishers. He did, and it held a nice feeling for him.
"I've been pretty fortunate ever since I got the (starting) nod a couple of weeks ago that I've had a lot of good support from family and friends and some people back home," said Orlovsky. "Even some people I've crossed paths with in my career. There were definitely some nice people who reached out and sent an email or text (message) to say congratulations. It was nice. To name one would be difficult. There were a bunch of them that meant a lot to me. (It was) definitely a humbling thing to have people reach out like that."
On Thursday night, he will be making his second start at home. He appreciates the well-wishers in Lucas Oil Stadium, too, and he hopes they can bring the same type of support that benefited the team last week.
"They were great. (It was) not surprising," said Orlovsky of last week's crowd. "I've quickly learned how passionate the fans are about the Colts, about the players, really. I think some credit needs to go to the team for giving the fans a decade of (good performances). They were great, real supportive. Hopefully, we can continue. I'm a big believer in giving them a reason to cheer. Hopefully, we can go out do that on Thursday Night. We're going to need their help.
"They were a huge help for our defense (last week). A false start here or there, a delay of game, a general sense of not allowing the other quarterback to get comfortable (is important). They were huge for us on Sunday. Hopefully, they will be a bigger help on Thursday."