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Colts-Saints preview: Moving on from Browns loss, focus is on turnovers, not late-game penalties

By Wednesday of this week, the Colts flushed any lingering feelings they had about the controversial ending to their Week 7 loss to the Cleveland Browns and turned their attention fully to fixing some things ahead of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. 


As the Colts re-convened at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Wednesday to prepare in earnest for Week 8's home date with the New Orleans Saints, a well-worn sports phrase took hold: Control what you can control. 

The Colts couldn't control the outcome of Week 7's loss to the Cleveland Browns. The flags thrown on cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. couldn't be retroactively picked up and waved off. 

"They don't take the L away," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "They don't give (EJ) Speed the strip-sack. It don't really matter. We gotta continue to move on and focus on New Orleans."

What the Colts can control: Not turning the ball over four times, and not being in a position where refereeing decisions could impact the outcome of a game in the first place. 

"I think we could've won that game and that's on us," quarterback Gardner Minshew said. "There's a million plays out there that could've been made and we didn't make them. It's always convenient to look for excuses, but I think we gotta look at ourselves and figure out what we can do to fix it."

The winning formula for the Colts is simple: Don't turn the ball over. This is a team that's 3-0 when its offense doesn't give the ball away and is 0-4 when committing at least one turnover. The Saints, meanwhile, have had at least one takeaway in each of their seven games, and have had three takeaways in two of their three wins.

Those turnovers have dinged what's been an otherwise efficient, explosive Colts offense that enters Week 8 as the only team in the NFL to score at least 20 points in every game this season. The message: Stop turning the ball over and this could be a truly dangerous offense. 

"We have a lot that we're doing really well right now," Minshew said. "I think we should have a lot of confidence with that, I think we do have a lot of confidence with that. So it's just cleaning up things, and most of that's on my part. I accept my responsibility in that and look forward to continue to building."

Defensively, the Colts are focused on more consistently finishing out games – which they have this year in wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans – and making the kind of plays teams need to make to stay in the playoff hunt. 

"We've got a great opportunity to bounce back at home," defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "(Head coach Shane Steichen's) message was true, this time of the year teams are going to start going down or going up, and showing who they really are. We've been in a lot of close games and not finding ways to finish. We've got to really, really be critical with the details and everything that we do with the game plan and find a way at the end of the game to finish those close games."

The Colts are nearing the point of the season where playoff contenders usually separate themselves from the pack. Following Sunday's game, the Colts won't play at home again until after Thanksgiving; they'll be 10 games into the season while flying back over the Atlantic Ocean in two weeks after playing the New England Patriots in Frankfurt. There are plenty of reasons to believe the Colts will head into their Week 11 bye as a playoff contender – but to get there, the mistakes that've marred their last two losses need to be eliminated. 

And those have nothing to do with the referees. 

"We're not the type of team that gets down about what happened," safety Julian Blackmon said. "We just move on and we continue to try to do better."

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