Colts to Play Host to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Divisional Playoff Game Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Caldwell knows about the history.
Caldwell, in his first season as the Colts' head coach, said Monday that while history could be viewed by many as favorable to the Colts this week, it's just as true that that history matters not a bit.
Not what happened earlier this season.
And not what has happened the last eight seasons.
Really, Caldwell said, not even what happened on Sunday – when the Baltimore Ravens beat the New England Patriots, 33-14 to advance to the AFC Divisional Playoff round – will matter when the Colts and Ravens meet on Saturday night for the right to play in the AFC Championship Game.
The past at that point will be past, Caldwell said.
And the teams' playoff futures will be decided in the present.
"Everything that's happened previously, you can throw out the window," Caldwell said Monday as the coaching staff of the Colts (14-2) began preparing to play the Ravens (10-7) in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
"Those records don't matter."
The Colts, who in early December clinched a sixth AFC South title in seven years, had a first-round bye in the playoffs as the AFC's No. 1 seed.
Entering the weekend, the Colts knew they were to play one of three teams in the second round – the No. 5 seed New York Jets, the No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bengals or the sixth-seeded Ravens. The Jets beat Cincinnati on Saturday and will visit No. 2 San Diego Sunday.
"We didn't know exactly who we were going to play," Caldwell said. "We had an entire week, so we kind of picked a different day to really focus in on a team, and once you realized Cincinnati was out, we narrowed the focus. Some of us ran back in here again and tried to narrow it a little bit more, and once the afternoon game was over with and Baltimore was up, then we came back in again at night and tried to crystallize our focus.
"We had to narrow it down as the weekend went on."
The Ravens, who played in the AFC Championship Game a year ago, losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh, dominated the Patriots, taking a 24-0 first-quarter and forcing four turnovers, including three interceptions of former NFL Most Valuable Player Tom Brady.
"I watched it at home," Caldwell said. "I had a chance to look at it and look at it closely. Certainly, (he was) very impressed with the way the Ravens played. They played tough, they were sound, they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and they really controlled the line of scrimmage."
That set up a meeting of two teams that played in Baltimore on November 22, with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning completing 22 of 31 passes for 299 yards with a first-half touchdown and two first-half interceptions. The Colts committed three turnovers and were held to three second-half points, but they forced two turnovers in the waning minutes to improve to 10-0.
In the November meeting, Colts kicker Matt Stover – who spent 1998-2008 with Baltimore – kicked a 25-yard field with 7:02 remaining. Those proved to be the game-winning points, coming one possession after the Colts forced a Ravens field goal after Baltimore had 1st-and-goal on the Indianapolis 1.
The Ravens finished with 354 total yards, and drove inside the Colts 30 on seven of nine possessions, but the first six such possessions ended in field goal attempts.
The seventh trip inside the Colts' 30 came one possession after Stover's game-winner, when Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett intercepted a short 3rd-and-7 pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on the Indianapolis 13 with 2:42 remaining.
The Ravens forced a Colts punt with 28 seconds remaining, but after a four-yard return, Ravens safety Ed Reed lateraled and Colts linebacker Freddy Keiaho recovered at the Ravens 40 for the second Indianapolis takeaway in the final three minutes.
"Teams change quite a bit," Caldwell said. "That was seven weeks ago, somewhere around that area, when we played them. Obviously, there is an opunity there for everyone to get better. I think in this particular case, that without question, they have. They did a great job Sunday demonstrating that."
The Colts have played the Ravens seven times since 2002, former Head Coach Tony Dungy's first season as head coach. They have played them every regular season since except 2003 and 2006, and they beat the Ravens, 15-6, in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game following the 2006 regular season.
The Colts have won all seven meetings.
"The regular season doesn't matter," Caldwell said. "What does matter is what happens from here on, and we know that we're facing a real solid team. Our focus has to be keen. We have to have a focus where it's one team, one focus and one goal. Obviously, I think all of us, our fans included, are invested in that.
"We have to make certain that we focus in on this particular game, because what happened in the past doesn't matter."
Caldwell said the Colts' main focus in recent weeks has been preparing for the postseason, getting healthy and focusing on fundamentals. In that vein, he said he likes the Colts' situation.
"You have to judge it a little bit by what we did last week," Caldwell said. "Our practices were spirited, our practices were fast and our execution was good. I think in both bases you're going to find both teams have made tremendous strides since seven weeks ago when we played."