INDIANAPOLIS – The objective for the Colts over the next 14 weeks of the regular season is as followed:
Become the 27th team since 1990 to start a season 0-2 and still make the playoffs.
In 2014, the Colts did just that, making a run to the AFC Championship game.
Their uphill journey to achieving similar success begins this Sunday with an old foe on the visiting sideline.
Led by Philip Rivers, the San Diego Chargers have been one of the rare thorns in the side of the Colts for the last decade or so.
Rivers is 5-1 all-time against the Colts, with two playoff victories, ending Super Bowl runs for Indianapolis in 2007 and again in 2008.
"They've had our number over the years," Robert Mathis said of the Chargers on his weekly radio show earlier this week.
"We can't put our finger on it but we've got to bring our A game."
Along with tight end Antonio Gates, Rivers has been the constant presence during the Chargers' successful run against the Colts.
Despite heavy turnover at the skill positions and four key weapons already on IR, San Diego's offense hasn't slowed down.
The Chargers rank second in the NFL scoring 32.5 points per game with Rivers' third-highest quarterback rating conducting things.
"Philip Rivers is a top-five quarterback in this league," Mathis says. "I don't think he gets enough credit."
For the Chargers, Rivers is the head of the snake.
If the Colts want to earn their first win of 2016 on Sunday, their (all of a sudden) healthy defense must disrupt things for the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
Currently, with Houston's (2-1) loss on Thursday, the Colts sit just one-game back in the loss column of the AFC South.
In years past, 0-2 starts for the Colts haven't led to a domino effect into longer losing streaks.
Will that continue on Sunday?
"We just have to get this one," Frank Gore says. "We can't worry about the division. We're 0-2 and have San Diego coming up who came off a big win last week. We just have to do whatever it takes to try to get a win this week."
INTERESTING MATCHUPSSan Diego quarterback Philip Rivers versus the Colts defense:Rivers hasn't thrown an interception in 88 pass attempts this season. The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback has relied on shorter throws (just four have traveled more than 20 yards through the air) while targeting a skill group filled with turnover. Rivers could see the Colts' secondary with its healthiest bunch of the season, by a wide margin.
The Colts wide receivers versus the San Diego secondary: Look for Pro Bowl corner Jason Verrett to spy on T.Y. Hilton this weekend. If Verrett can limit Hilton, that means Andrew Luck will be looking to some very inexperienced receivers. Phillip Dorsett should see quite a few targets his way with the Colts trying to make up for the loss of Donte Moncrief.
- In his past two homes games, Andrew Luck has a 110.4 rating with 637 passing yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
- Colts cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (2006-09) and Patrick Robinson (2015) both used to play in San Diego.
- Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has made 29 straight field goals, the longest current streak in the NFL.
- The Chargers have won six of their last seven games against the Colts.
- If the Chargers run for 150 yards against on Sunday, it would be the first time they had three straight 150-yard rushing efforts since 2006.
- San Diego ranks second in the NFL with 32.5 points per game.
NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on what makes San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers so tough):
"He is very, very smart. He does as good a job as anybody pre-snap of gathering information. When you go through and you look at the play clock and do the cadence study, there are a lot of times where there are one or two seconds left on the play clock before he snaps it, especially on third down. And, he does a great job of getting the defense to show their hand. You try to do as good a job as you can to try to hide what you are doing. There is nothing that he has not seen. He keeps his eyes down the field, his arm strength is still there and his arm talent is still there. He can make all the throws. He is a competitive guy and he spreads it around and he knows where to go with the football, period. Nine out of 10 times he is usually right on with what he thinks you are in."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on Phillip Dorsett now sliding into a bigger role with Donte Moncrief's injury):
"The plays that he has made to this point. He is gaining confidence, he is making big plays down the field and he is playing fast. He is not thinking, the game is slowing down for him and he is speeding up. You are starting to see and feel his presence out there. It's next man up with another guy down. Him having the success that he has had as far as making the big plays down the field is obviously going to help us."
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck(on if things are "testy" after starting 0-2):
"You may think that looking from the outside in that that might be the case but it's certainly not. Chuck (Pagano) does a great job of putting things in perspective and saying, 'What happened, happened and you can't rewind time and go play the game, should've, could've, would've. We can all be sort of Monday morning quarterbacks and wish we did that and that but we have to move on and try to get a win.' He keeps this building very positive and I admire that very much about him and that's not just this year, that's every year I've been here."
Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy(on Andrew Luck coming back from injury):
"Andrew is a phenomenal player. Someone who thought so highly of him coming out of college and having played against him at this level, an outstanding player that's very efficient in what he does and spreads the ball all over like all the great quarterbacks do. They're going to take what the defense gives them whether it's checking the ball down in a third situation there's no sense of it being taken away, get the ball out of his hand and a great competitor."
Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers(on being 5-1 all-time against the Colts):
"We've won a handful of games against the Colts, but shoot, not this team, every team is different. From year to year it changes, different coaches, different players, so it's different. Certainly, there are some memorable games. I always love coming to Indy, it's a great town with a great fan base. Even coming there for the Super Bowl one year, great people. It is always a fun atmosphere there. It's a football town and they know their football and love their Colts. It's always a great environment."
Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers(on running back Melvin Gordon's production this season):
"The guys up front have done a heck of a job and Melvin is running really good. He is really seeing things well and he's making a lot of good cuts and a lot of hard, tough runs. I feel like his confidence has really come on in the last month or so. The guys up front, like I said, they are doing a heck of a job of giving him some creases. It has been great to be balanced these first two weeks. Obviously you never know how it's going to go each week. We are ready to throw it 50 times if we need to. We are ready to run it 50 times, whatever it takes. It has been great to have a nice balance here these first two weeks."