INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts left the Lucas Oil Stadium field at halftime Sunday trailing, 20-7.
Tennessee had an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the game, returned an Andrew Luck interception for a score and tallied again just 37 seconds before the half – things that usually spell a win.
Indianapolis righted itself with a long touchdown drive to start the third quarter and after a 52-yard punt that angled out at the Tennessee one, the Colts swiped a pass and scored.
The Colts overcame a two-point fourth-quarter deficit with another interception and two field goals, then milked the final 2:42 off the clock for a compelling 27-23 victory – the team's sixth this year in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Cory Redding likes the unified nature of the Colts.
"It's called, 'Team.' When the (offense) struggles, we have to get their backs. When we struggle, they have to get our backs. Special teams, we have to keep it going," said Redding. "It's called, 'Team.' Everybody bought in. We're all in.
"If we're in (Las) Vegas, we have no chips left. We've pushed everything in. We knew they were struggling, so we got their backs."
The Colts are 9-4 and within an eyelash of a playoff berth. A win in any of the last three games should clinch a 12th playoff berth since 1999.
Even with losses in the three remaining games against Houston (twice) and Kansas City, it would take Pittsburgh and Cincinnati winning every game while tying each other in the remaining head-to-head battle on December 23 to keep Indianapolis from the post-season.
A young Colts team has played a league-high nine games decided by seven points or less, earning an 8-1 record. Redding says prospering in uneasy moments speaks volumes about the team.
"We always play. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you're in that situation, that's when you should thrive," said Redding. "We've been showing that week-in and week-out. I guess we like it tough, you know?
"We have a young team. We're learning how to win with our backs against the wall. It's going to be nothing but great things down the road because of the learning experience they're getting out on the field of how to overcome a huge deficit. We're enjoying the process with these guys."
Sunday, the Colts lost two offensive linemen and two running backs, leaving another makeshift front and one healthy runner, Vick Ballard. It was the type of adversity the Colts have faced all season, and the team did not blink.
"We find ways to win when our backs are up against the wall," said Redding. "It's just a reflection of where we have been this whole season, losing teammates, our coach getting hit with leukemia, guys are having almost career-ending injuries and bouncing back."
Indianapolis held Tennessee to 86 yards, three points and six first downs in the second half, a quick turnaround that pleased Redding after the opening half.
"We just decided to play football, point blank. There is nothing we did different. We just decided to wake up and play football," said Redding. "If that's what it takes – to get punched in the mouth in the first half and then to come back in the second half and win it, then so be it. We just have to put a complete effort together and we are so young, but that's not an excuse.
"We are still learning, still building, still growing and just enjoying the moment by working the process. Guys are just coming in and doing everything they can to help the team win."