INDIANAPOLIS – When Chuck Pagano wraps up his postgame locker room speeches, he leaves his team with a message.
Something that is normally succinct, but said with the emotion that players won't forget once they depart the stadium.
Last weekend, following the Colts 23-3 bounce back victory over the Jaguars, Pagano's message was a little more big picture than the head coach typically gives his team.
"Somebody's going to get hot right about now," Pagano told his 7-4 Colts.
"Every year, it seems like it's somebody new. Why can't we get hot and just keep getting better and better and better. We had a five-game win streak. There's no reason we can't do the same thing. But if we stick to the process, we do the little things and we prepare and we play well and we execute, then we can be that team maybe. That's what I told them. Why not us?"
The Colts will try to start another win streak on Sunday as they conclude their three-game homestand.
Washington (3-8) comes to Lucas Oil Stadium with a new quarterback in Colt McCoy.
There will be no Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin III matchup as Washington turns to a guy who has led them to a pair of victories in 2014.
In relief versus Tennessee and as a starter in Dallas, McCoy is 2-0 under center thanks to completing more than 85 percent of his passes.
Colts veteran linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has some familiarity with McCoy from their playing days in Cleveland.
"I know his tendencies a bit," Jackson says of McCoy. "This system with the Redskins fits his talents. He's able to move outside of the pocket, he can run the read option. He's a smart guy, so he's going to know where to go with the football.
"He's proven he can win. He went into Dallas and beat Dallas. That was a big-time game for him. It's the reason they chose him and not the other guy. They think highly of him that he can come in and win in a hostile environment."
For the Colts, it's about defending that environment in what will be the second to last home game of the 2014 regular season.
Players hear Pagano's message and they want to put that to work in trying to turn their two-game AFC South lead into a second straight divisional title.
"This is the time in the season when teams get hot," Cory Redding says. "This is the time when teams really start to pick up their game, elevate their game. This is the kind of team that you want to be in December. You want to win through the month of November, going into December hot, feeling good and confident about what we're doing and looking forward to the postseason.
"We've taken care of our assignment so far and that's winning our division. Right now, we're 4-0 and we got two more to get in. Everything else will take care of itself. One game at a time, but we're going to take care of what we've got to do day-in and day-out."
INTERESTING MATCHUPSWashington wide receivers versus the Colts secondary:Washington brings some elite speed at the wide receiver position on Sunday. It doesn't come at an ideal time with an Indianapolis secondary dealing with a banged up group, especially at the cornerback position. Washington quarterback Colt McCoy hasn't thrown the ball down the field at a great rate in his 42 pass attempts this year.Colts running game versus the Washington front seven: The Colts ran for more than 170 yards last week with contributions from Andrew Luck and a 15-yard reverse from T.Y. Hilton. Who the Colts start at running back isn't a worry for Chuck Pagano. It's pretty clear both Trent Richardson and Boom Herron will see ample time in the backfield as the Colts try to get a consistent ground attack heading into the final quarter of the season.Quick Facts
-The Colts lead the NFL with 63 plays of at least 20 yards.
-The Colts defense ranks second in the NFL in third-down percentage (34.1)
-Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is a perfect 25-of-25 on field goals in 2014.
-Washington is looking for its fifth straight game of at least 120 rushing yards
-Washington leads the league in average yards after catch (7.0).
-Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson leads the league in yards per catch (20.4).NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on his confidence in the run game going forward):
-"I like where we're at and we'll continue to go. We've moved some pieces around on the offensive line so that all factors in. You lose your Y-tight end in Dwayne Allen, that factors in. The runners ran hard yesterday and there was again a really good front that we were going against and good linebackers that play downhill, guys that are fast. We're going to see it week-in and week-out, so we're going to keep hammering the point home that especially down the stretch and playing on the road, playing in cold weather when conditions aren't conducive to throwing the football every snap, you're going to have to be able to run the football. So it was good to see us generate some yards."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the play of T.Y. Hilton this season):
-"He's been outstanding. He shows up every single game, prepares as good as anyone. He puts the time in and it's showing up on game day. The special circumstances surrounding the day that he had yesterday; we know how early it started and we know the birth of his third child, dealing with that, lack of sleep and all that stuff, and barely getting to the stadium on time. He didn't even go through pregame warmup because he had to take care of what he needed to take care of to play that game. He's a special player, he's a special talent, a special person and he's a great teammate. We know the skillset, we know what he brings to the table from a receiver standpoint and the production that he's having, yards and touchdowns, things like that, but he's a really good teammate, a really special player."Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck(on how he views the Colts special teams this year):
-"With great admiration I look at them, and a lot of thanks in this Thanksgiving week. The field position they've given us, what Pat's (McAfee) been able to do to pin guys deep, what our return game has done, it's impressive. It's also impressive sort of inside the building seeing how everybody buys in and wants to contribute on special teams. It's enviable to be on teams. It's enviable to be able to run down on kickoff or on punt. Obviously as a quarterback we don't get to do that, but you're almost sucked into that, you almost want to do it and be a part of it because it looks like they're just having fun and whooping butt at the same time."
Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden(on what he needs to see from his quarterback play against the Colts):
-"Points, we need points. We need first downs and points. We're pretty good on third down-and-medium. Third down-and-long is when it gets tough, so obviously we've got to figure out a way to sustain some drives and get the ball in the end zone. That's easier said than done a lot of times. Indy's got a very good defense, but we've got to figure out a way to get the ball in our playmakers' hands and obviously continue to ride Alfred (Morris) a little bit, but just make some plays. We've got to get the ball in our playmakers' hands and let them play."Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden(on matching up with the Colts defensive backs):
-"Well I think it's going to be a huge point in the game. If we can win some of these one-on-one battles outside, then we'll have a great opportunity to make some plays down the field. If we can't get off the line of scrimmage and have trouble with the pass rush, then it will be another long afternoon for us. We've just got to challenge our receivers as they're going to challenge their cornerbacks, and when it is man-to-man, we've got to do a good job of running excellent routes, precision routes and the ball's got to be out on time and accurate. They sprinkle in some zones and some good fire zones and some blitzes at the right time and try to confuse quarterbacks, but I think ultimately it's going to come down to can we win some one-on-one matchups and get the ball down the field."Washington Quarterback Colt McCoy(on the difficulty for the offense to sustain stability with so many different quarterbacks):
-"Unfortunately, the guys who have started from training camp on through from Week One all the way until now have played with three guys. That's always a hard thing. Guys play differently. Their snap count's a little bit different. Their pocket awareness is a little bit different. Their timing with receivers might be a little bit different. I definitely feel for them from that aspect. At the same time, I just want to go out there and play confident football and trust in my teammates. We've got good players on the field and figure out way to distribute the football to them and hopefully get our run game going. Just go out there and play smart football."