INDIANAPOLIS – With three weeks of an NFL regular season in the books, the 13 Colts who have made their NFL debuts have seen a wealth of different scenarios.
From the jubilation of a final minute victory to a crushing defeat, head coach Chuck Pagano heads into his first bye week as a head coach with a team feeling as they let one get away.
The Colts saw a 14-3 halftime lead evaporate on Sunday as several young players got their first taste of just how excruciating losses can be in the NFL.
"We don't want to repeat this feeling of walking into this locker room having that pit in your stomach," quarterback Andrew Luck said on Sunday. "Nothing is over in this league until the clock is zero. We saw how quickly Jacksonville struck back. We had an opportunity at the end, wish we would could have put in the end zone and got the win, but it didn't happen."
The quarterback wanted to take the blame for the loss but his head coach was quick to shun such an idea.
Luck's third quarter interception was his only turnover of the afternoon and he threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns for the second time in his short NFL career.
"We're all accountable to ourselves and to each other," Pagano said. "He's got big enough shoulders to handle the situation that he's in right now. He's not one to bemoan or let it linger. He'll see the good things that he did and he'll see the mistakes that he made, some of the poor throws, a few decisions here and there and then he'll move on."
Colts players returned to the practice facility Tuesday morning and Pagano said his staff would get right to what improvements are necessary heading into the bye week.
"You point out like we are doing, 'Here's what we did well, but this is what's killing us and these are the areas that we have to address and this is why.' Pagano said of what he will tell his team.
Against the Jaguars, Pagano said his team performed the best they had all season on first down but needed to be more sharp on second and short in order to avoid constant conversions on third downs.
The special teams play of punter Pat McAfee and gunner Joe Lefeged once again caught the head coach's eye.
First-year Colts T.Y. Hilton and Cassius Vaughn also gave the Colts some production in the return game, an area that has been lacking in the past.
Hilton was one of a pair of rookies who emerged in the receiving department on Sunday afternoon.
Playing in just his second career game, Hilton caught four passes for 113 yards along with scoring his first NFL touchdown.
The presence of Hilton in the passing game will take on even more importance with the news of Austin Collie being placed on injured reserve.
Rookie tight end Dwayne Allen had a career high five catches for 35 yards and has been a proven blocker in the running game early in the season.
One facet of the game that Pagano was not pleased with following Sunday's loss were the mental mistakes his team made in the penalty department.
The Colts had 11 penalties for 106 yards (39 more than the Jaguars) including four on special teams.
During the first two games of the season the Colts combined for just 10 penalties for 70 yards, but Sunday's output alone was higher than that.
The effort Pagano is seeing isn't the issue, but being more disciplined than they were against the Jaguars is a focus this week.
"We're playing aggressive, we're playing tough but we've got to play smart," Pagano said. "There's certain times where it's hard, things are moving fast, and you've got to make snap decisions."
Pagano hopes Sunday's excessive penalties were simply an aberration from a team that had been one of the leagues best in penalty avoidance in the first two games.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers awaits the Colts in two weeks and the Packers quarterback knows a little about dealing with adversity during his own NFL career.
Rodgers turned the ups and downs experienced early into his career into one of the game's finest signal callers.
Pagano has routinely praised the poise of Luck since his arrival in Indianapolis and he doesn't expect to see anything different come Oct. 7.
"He's not a guy that's going to beat himself up," Pagano said of Luck. "That's just not Andrew's mentality. That's not in his DNA. That's not how he's wired."