INDIANAPOLIS –There is a bit on the line this Sunday when the Colts meet the Patriots in Foxborough, and the last time defensive end Cory Redding walked onto the Gillette Stadium turf he was playing a big-stakes game as well.
Redding last appeared in the venue on January 22 of this year as his Baltimore team waged a fight with New England to reach Super Bowl XLVI being held in Indianapolis. The Ravens dropped a heart-breaking 23-20 decision on a late missed field goal, and now the 10th-year pro returns to help Indianapolis try to reach 7-3.
"You know what, you live and you learn, man. You live and you learn," said Redding on if that trip sticks with him. "We learned from that. It was a little tough, but it is what it is. Hopefully, we go up there and get a different outcome this time."
Redding has been a huge component to a Colts team on a four-game winning streak. Indianapolis and New England stand at 6-3 and as two of six AFC teams with at least six wins. One should reach win number seven.
"Every week is big, but this one in particular because of what we're doing and what we've done the last few weeks. A lot of us are getting mentally and physically ready for this game," said Redding. "(Bruce Arians) asked us in the meeting room who has been to New England before and who is going up there for the first time. A few hands were raised. We're getting ready and going up there to do our job, and that's to continue this winning streak, keep stacking wins and find a way to win in New England."
The Patriots have a 70-14 regular season home record since 2002, the league's best. Redding and his teammates will find a tough crowd, but the field has the same dimensions as all others. The Patriots do have a talented quarterback that heightens preparations, though.
"It's playing football, no matter if you're lining the ball out behind the alley in Lucas Oil (Stadium) or down the street or in Foxborough. It doesn't matter. Football is football," said Redding. "You have to be prepared mentally to play a different kind of game when you're playing a guy like Tom Brady.
"You approach the game differently, not just traditional-type stuff. There's going to be a lot of checking and calling, so you have to adjust and be on the move and ready to go. That's what we're prepared for."
Indianapolis is well aware of a New England ground game that gets 146 yards per game and has twice topped 200 yards. It must be addressed, but the challenge of Brady, who has a 130-38 starting record and holds the NFL's fourth-best November record (31-10) in the Super Bowl era among quarterbacks with 20 starts, is a tough pill.
"It's just keeping him off balance, not really letting him get in a rhythm, getting physical on the receivers, getting a decent push up the middle to get him off the spot," said Redding. "We know he's a pocket quarterback. We know he wants to look downfield and make throws."
"If you can't get there, get your hands up. If you've got a chance to make a big play, make a big play. There's going to be a lot of 'check with me's'. It's because he plays the game different, so we have to approach the game different as well."
The NFL season has turned to November. Seven games remain. Hopes are raised and crushed, and this is the position to which Redding and the Colts aspired in August.
"There's no doubt. It's part of the plan in training camp to make it to the playoffs," said Redding. "You make it by grinding, hard-nosed football. No matter when you're down, stick to your fight, find a way to win and stack wins.
"It's not good to just get a win one week, then lose. You have to be consistent and keep stacking. That's what we've learned how to do these last four weeks. We have to keep building."
The Colts were 0-9 this time a year ago. Indianapolis was 0-11 two games later when it reached Foxborough. This year's game has been moved to the late afternoon time slot, one that historically reaches the largest television audience.
The Colts are relevant, and Redding knows the way to remain so.
"We have to keep winning. If you keep winning, they keep talking about you," said Redding. "You lose, you go from the penthouse to the outhouse. We have to keep winning. Winning helps everything. Losing hurts everything."