INDIANAPOLIS –What undoubtedly was a somber bus ride from Reliant Stadium and a flight home to Indianapolis gave way to resolve on Monday.
Sure the Colts had dropped an anticipated match to Houston, 29-17. Sure they did not capitalize offensively for points as much as they hoped.
Sure a special teams problem allowed a critical, and sure the defense allowed Arian Foster to run almost freely over the final 15 minutes.
Can the playoffs be clinched after 15 games for Indianapolis? Sure. With a team featuring few returnees, a large number of rookies and a radically-rebuilt coaching staff? You bet.
The mindset is to capture game one of what now is a two-game season.
"Never allow one loss to turn into two, period," said Cory Redding. "You have to dig deep a little bit more to learn what you messed up on, work on it and challenge yourself to be better. If you made those mistakes a week before, don't make them again. Don't let one loss turn into two."
The Colts all season have been able to shake defeats with victories. It has happened four prior times, spawning winning streaks of three and four games on two occasions.
Houston now is in the playoffs and while the loss was distasteful, it was not decisive.
"We got beat by a good team, no excuses, no explanations, no, 'Woe is me.' There were some good chances (to win)," said Redding. "Going into the fourth quarter, we still were down by six, c'mon man. We were still in the game."
Indeed. After closing what was a 20-3 second-quarter deficit to 10 points at halftime, Indianapolis narrowed a 23-10 deficit to 23-17 with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
A special teams penalty put the Colts at their eight with what would be the lone chance to cut the six-point deficit, but Houston stoned the possession and kicked a field goal moments later. The Colts then drove to midfield before relinquishing the ball, another field goal and the game.
"We had great opportunities to go out there and win it," said Redding. "We just got away from it. Arian Foster made some (great) runs. There were some penalties here and there. Other than that, we got beat by a good team."
The loss was the club's fourth this year by double digits, following ones by 20 at Chicago, 26 at the New York Jets and 35 at New England.
Each time the team flushed the result and returned to preparation. It was the M.O. when the playoffs were not in sight, and it is the same now that they are in grasp.
"We've come too far to reach this point to let it all go away, let it all be in vain. I won't stand idly by and let that happen, and I know my teammates won't either," said Redding from his pulpit – his locker. "We're going to come back this week and fight, watch tape, lift weights, run, eat right, do all we have to do to get in this game in Arrowhead (Stadium) and find a victory.
"We'll take that loss, learn from it like we did today and all our focus and energy is on Kansas City."