INDIANAPOLIS – Famous former NFL Films voice John Facenda once noted of this time of the season, "Hopes that were high in the heat of September can wilt and die in the chill of November."
This is the second straight season the Colts have torn the October page off the calendar and started November with a victory.
Indianapolis did it last week with a 27-24 comeback win at Houston, and it did so last year with the same type of "never-die" triumph over Miami, 23-20.
That three-point win over the Dolphins led interim coach Bruce Arians to second Facenda's words.
"When you get into November football and you are in the hunt, everyone should spend a little more time, sacrifice a little bit more to prepare yourself because you're playing for more now," said Arians. "If you're playing for more, you do more."
Arians was quick with a quip and typically hit the nail on the head. While the Colts were 5-3 at this juncture in 2012 and trailed Houston in the AFC South, they are 6-2 now and lead Tennessee by two games.
The Colts have been able to produce three comeback wins this year, besting Oakland and Seattle in the same fashion they did the Texans, only last Sunday's bounce back was from 18 points rather than the three- and 12-point deficits faced in those other games.
Pagano praised his team's ability to play regardless of circumstance, "until that last tick is off the clock," but he noted Monday the periodic slow starts are issues that will be addressed as the Colts today begin preparations to host St. Louis on Sunday.
"We're going to be able to look at this tape and see so many things that we can do so much better," said Pagano, "and try to make things a heck of a lot easier on us moving forward and playing the second half of this season.
"We feel good about where we're sitting right now, but we got a long way to go."
Indianapolis has the AFC's fourth-best record, trailing Kansas City (9-0), Denver (7-1) and New England (7-2) and ahead of AFC North leader Cincinnati (6-3).
"It's here, November football. It's leading into December," said Cory Redding. "You want to go out and make plays because it helps down the road. This game is about playing and winning.
"We have to stay focused and do what we have to do. If you keep winning, they keep talking about you. You lose, you go from the penthouse to the outhouse."
Those were Redding's words almost a year ago to the day. The Colts then were trailing Houston by a margin they would not close, but they were ahead of an AFC field they conquered in 15 games to earn the fifth playoff seed.
Erik Walden was a member of three Green Bay playoff teams, reaching Super Bowl XLV following his first season (2010) with the Packers, then reaching the divisional round the next two seasons. He believes the same about football this time of year.
"I feel like everybody knows you should be playing your best ball in November and December," said Walden. "They're the games I feel like are crucial as far as building that momentum into the playoffs.
"I feel like everybody has a good idea in the locker room of what it means to be playing good football in November and December."
Walden has been a key component in the Colts' last two wins. He had a second-quarter sack last Sunday at Houston that forced a failed field goal attempt when Indianapolis trailed by 14 points.
Against Denver the week before, he forced an interception and fumble in the final seven minutes of a 39-33 win.
"We feel like one of our strengths is getting off the field on third down and tightening up on defense," said Walden. "I was just out there trying to make plays to help my team win.
"Coach preaches all the time that it's a 60-minute game, make the plays that come to you. That's what I try to do. We're just a team that really doesn't want to be denied. When we're playing good ball and sticking to the fundamentals and our technique, the sky is the limit for us."