INDIANAPOLIS – Back in Week Three, the Colts opened up their AFC South slate of games searching for a win.
Potential victories against playoff teams had escaped the Colts in the first two weeks of 2014.
Opening the season at 0-3 would severely diminish postseason chances for the defending AFC South champs.
If there was any extra pressure added to the Colts trip to Jacksonville, the visitors sure didn't play with any fear.
Behind a 370-yard, four-touchdown day from Andrew Luck, the Colts rolled to a 44-17 victory to start a run of five straight victories.
So now, here the Colts are in Week 12, with a one-game lead in the AFC South, looking to get back to their winning ways with the Jaguars coming to Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We just want to continue to do that," Jerrell Freeman says of the Colts 10-game AFC South win streak.
"Our first goal has always been to win the division. We're well on our way to doing that, we've just got to keep winning. This is a big one for us. Just keep winning within the division and we'll get to the playoffs and let the chips fall where they may."
The Colts are coming off a disappointing 42-20 loss to New England where the Patriots ground attack wore down the Indy defense.
Coming into Week 11, the Colts ranked ninth in the NFL in run defense.
New England left Lucas Oil Stadium with 244 rushing yards, a number that certainly didn't please the Colts head coach.
"We didn't play fundamental football. Didn't execute the way we had in the past," Chuck Pagano said earlier this week.
"If you're going to be a great defense, you've got to be a great tackling defense. We didn't tackle as well as we've tackled in the past."
Colts veteran linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is the signal caller for the Indy defense.
As Jackson fielded questions earlier this week, he acknowledge that the Colts have a pretty good idea of what they will see on Sunday.
In a "copycat" league, Jackson is expecting a heavy run dose from the Jaguars.
"Once you show a weakness in this league, you have to show the next week that you got it corrected," Jackson said. "I'm more than confident our guys are ready."
During Jackson's media availability, the vet also received inquiries about the Colts new signee, Josh Cribbs.
Looking for a spark in the return game, the Colts turned to Cribbs who has a long history of changing games via special teams.
Cribbs is about to begin his ninth NFL season, with four different teams, and for a guy who's never been to the playoffs, this locker room felt a little different.
"They smell like playoffs. They smell like Super Bowl," Cribbs says of his new team. "It's just awesome to be in a locker room with a bunch of guys that want it as bad as they do."INTERESTING MATCHUPSJaguars running back Denard Robinson against the Colts rush defense:In the Colts second matchup with the Jaguars, Indianapolis will see a different type of running back. Denard Robinson brings much more speed to the backfield than that of Toby Gerhart. The Colts have typically done pretty well against quicker backs and the rush defense should have the services of Arthur Jones back in the lineup on Sunday.Colts quarterback Andrew Luck versus the Jaguars defense: Luck is looking to tie an NFL record with his ninth straight 300-yard passing game on Sunday. He might have to do it without two of his top five leading receivers in Ahmad Bradshaw and possibly Dwayne Allen (questionable). The Colts would certainly like to see more offensive balance on Sunday and try to turn their red zone fortunes around against a stingy Jaguars defense inside the 20-yard line (Jaguars lead the NFL in red zone defense).Quick Facts
-The Colts have won their last 10 AFC South games.
-In his career against the Jaguars, Reggie Wayne has 2,108 receiving yards. That is the most for any active player in the NFL against one team.
-Darius Butler has recorded at least one takeaway in each of his last four games against the Jaguars.
-Jaguars running back Denard Robinson has averaged 5.4 yards per carry (72 carries for 389 yards) over the last four games.
-The Jaguars have given up the most explosive plays in the league this year (52 plays of at least 20 yards).
-The Jaguars are the fewest penalized team in the NFL and rank first in red zone defense.NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the play of the Colts linebackers on Sunday):
-"I don't think anybody at any position on defense was really pleased with the outcome. It's a team effort, it's a collaborative effort. We win as a team, we lose as a team. You guys know fully well we've played good in spots and we've had our moments where we haven't executed and played well. When you execute, you do things right, you communicate, you get on the same page, then you can play better defense and that's what we're going to do."Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the improvement in Blake Bortles over the year):
-"He's a big, strong, athletic guy. He's got arm talent, he can extend plays. They're running him on the read-option, he's the second-leading rusher on their team because of scramble plays, extended plays and read-option stuff. So he can beat you in a bunch of different ways. He's growing just like every rookie quarterback grows. He made plays against us. He threw for two touchdowns. He had two picks in that game but he threw for over 200 yards and had some success. We're going to prepare for the best Blake Bortles that we've seen on tape."
Colts Safety Mike Adams(on what the Colts defense needs to do to get back on track):
-"That's the thing, consistency. We did it five weeks straight and then Pittsburgh we fell off a little bit, got back on the wagon with the Giants, then we fell back in this game and now we've got to get back on track. It's the consistency as a group that we must down this stretch, down this last stretch, that we must have the consistency if we want to go far."Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley(on the switch from Chad Henne to Blake Bortles):
-"I think we went into it with the idea that we thought Chad, he had great OTAs and great training camp, and we really felt strongly about him. But I think the first three games, after the Washington game, I talked to Chad and just said, 'Hey, we need to see improvement offensively. I'm saying it's not just your fault now. You might do well but we've just got a lot of learning taking place and we just need to see improvement.' Then the Indy game we struggled the first half and that's why we made the change. So I think it was just more of a maybe give a spark to the team. It wasn't really what Chad was going through; we had a lot of young players on the offense, so he was kind of fighting through the growing pains as well."Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley(on what type of Colts team he expects to see on Sunday):
-"I think the team that I expect to see is a team that really executes very well because that's the team since I've been the head coach here. That's the team that we've seen the three times that we've played them. They execute very well, they make good decisions, all three phases are strong. They just play really, really good football. There might be some games in there where they have some turnovers or maybe don't play as consistently at a high level as they like but over the course of those times that we play them, all the games we watch, that's what we anticipate getting. A team that has a culture of execution and all three units perform at a high level."Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles(on the biggest difference between college and the NFL):
-"I think just the level of football. Every team's a college all-star team. Guys can flat out play. Everybody talks about the speed of the game. Obviously that's something that's easily noticeable. Guys on offense are faster as well, so that kind of works both ways. The amount of preparation and work that goes into it week-by-week is definitely more because you have nothing else to worry about. It's your full-time job. There's no school. There's none of that. If you enjoy football, it's definitely the perfect job to have."