NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT
Following the Colts' 34-28 come-from-behind win over previously undefeated Seattle Sunday, head coach Chuck Pagano was asked to explain what is it that allows his team to continue its amazing runs of fourth quarter comebacks. Pagano took a couple of seconds to ponder the question before responding.
"Character. Resiliency. Toughness, Grit. Never quit. Belief. Faith. I don't know what else I can say, other than these guys, we got something special," he explained.
"All these guys know and understand as a team, top to bottom, that if you don't move away from the process and you just stick to preparing, execute the best that you can and don't judge, you just keep playing, (that) good things will happen."
The Colts coach has several pet phrases. "Stick to the process" is perhaps at the top of the list.
"It's the same thing when you look in these guys' eyes. Nobody flinches around here. No players. No coaches. They just stick to the motto, the process of one play at a time. All you got. 60 minutes. (And) don't judge," Pagano said.
"You guys (media) are going to get tired of me saying it, but that's the mindset. That's the foundation we built this thing on. These guys just truly believe that, no matter what, if they just stick to that, they're going to win a lot of football games."
The Colts coach later expanded on his comments about the mental make-up of his players.
"Nobody's built better to win these close games," he stressed.
"Especially down the stretch. And especially in the fourth quarter than this team. You look at what they did last year with seven fourth-quarter comebacks. And then to be able to hang in here, hang in there, hang in there (against the Seahawks) and then take the lead and move on."
The win over the Seahawks was the ninth fourth-quarter comeback led by quarterback Andrew Luck during his relatively brief NFL career (21 total starts).
He tied former Arizona and Denver quarterback Jake Plummer for the most fourth-quarter comebacks during the first two years of their professional careers, passing former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in the process.
Pagano knows where his team's resiliency starts.
"(Luck) just wills this team to victory. He's unbelievable. He's able to stick to the process, doesn't matter what the score is or what the situation is," he points out.
"The guy just finds ways to make plays. Finds a way to get out of the pocket. Finds a way to extend. The guys believe in him. We can jump on his shoulders, jump on his back. We're just very, very fortunate to have him."
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - NOTES, QUOTES
--"It was 12-0 (Seattle leading). Just felt like we weren't really playing our style of ball the way we really wanted to play. Just something needed to be said. Somebody needed to say something. At that time, they were reviewing one of the plays. Just brought the team up and just talked about, we weren't playing well. We were just a little bit slower than the Seahawks. Just told them, 'Look, we came out here to do something. Last time we were home, it didn't end so well.' Just said put a little pep in our step and obviously came out yesterday with a win. I wasn't nice. It was a little animated." -- Colts safety Antoine Bethea on his impromptu talk to the team in the first quarter of the Seattle game.
--"Yeah, we have to play a complete game. We are just glad we got the victory. (Seattle) is a real good team. A real good team. Well coached. All the players are good players over there man. We just got to get a fast start, play the full game." -- ILB Jerrell Freeman on the Colts penchant this season for getting off to slow starts.
--Over their last three wins, the Colts have scored 98 points. That's the most points the team has had in a three-game win streak since October, 2009.
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR T.Y. Hilton scored two touchdowns against the Seahawks, including a 73-yarder on a pass from Andrew Luck. His four touchdowns of 60 yards or more over the past two seasons are the second-most in the NFL behind Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson's six.
--OLB Robert Mathis became the 30th player with 100 career sacks when he got to Seattle QB Russell Wilson twice. Mathis now has a league-leading 9.5 sacks this season and 101 for his career. Former DE/OLB Dwight Freeney has the franchise record with 107.5.
--DE Lawrence Guy made quite an impression in the two weeks that he was with the Colts. Guy had a pass broken up against Jacksonville two weeks ago while adding a blocked field goal and a PBU in the win over Seattle. Despite that, he was waived Monday in order to make room for WR LaVon Brazill. Guy might be re-signed to the Colts' practice squad if he clears waivers.
--S Delano Howell scored the first touchdown of his NFL career when he returned a blocked field goal 63 yards against Seattle. Howell started at one of the team's two safety spots, replacing an injured LaRon Landry.
--WR LaVon Brazill has been added to the Colts' active roster after serving a four-game suspension for violations of the league's substance abuse polices.
--Rookie OLB Bjoern Werner (torn plantar fascia) is still expected to be sidelined after he was hurt against Jacksonville two weeks ago. Werner's rehab is continuing.
--FB Stanley Havili (ankle) might be able to return to practice this week. He suffered a mild ankle sprain against the Jaguars two weeks ago. Havili did not play Sunday against Seattle but might be available for the San Diego game.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) remains sidelined after he was hurt against San Francisco three weeks ago. Bradshaw is considering whether to have potentially season-ending surgery or to try rehab.
--DT Ricky Jean Francois (groin) has made good progress after he was hurt against Jacksonville two weeks ago. Francois might be able to practice on Wednesday. His status for the San Diego game has not been decided.
--S LaRon Landry (ankle) has missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain. Landry might be cleared to practice this week. His status for Sunday's game at San Diego has yet to be determined.
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS:
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- QB Andrew Luck completed 16-of-29 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he did not throw an interception. Luck was sacked twice and fumbled once on a strip-sack. WR T.Y. Hilton had a huge day, catching five passes for 140 yards and two TDs (73 and 29 yards). WR Reggie Wayne added six receptions for 65 yards and caught a crucial two-point conversion pass.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- RB Trent Richardson had his best day since joining the Colts, picking up 56 yards on 18 carries. He had a 16-yard run as well as a huge 10-yard pickup through traffic to pick up a first down. RB Donald Brown continues to play well in his role as a change-up back, getting 37 yards on six carries. He scored the go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard run.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Seattle QB Russell Wilson completed 15-of-31 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson had his last pass of the day intercepted by CB Darius Butler. Wilson was sacked twice. He connected with WRs Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate for five catches apiece, hitting Tate and Jermaine Kearse for TD passes.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- Both RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson ran for 102 yards, Lynch needing 17 carries and having two substantial runs in the first half. Wilson, meanwhile, kept the Seahawks' offense moving by scrambling for first downs throughout the course of the game. Seattle had 218 yards rushing as a team.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- P Pat McAfee averaged 26.3 yards on two punts and had one punt blocked into the end zone for a safety. McAfee did have six touchbacks on kickoffs. PK Adam Vinatieri made field goals of 41 and 49 yards, with his last kick giving the Colts some late breathing room. WR David Reed averaged 26.8 yards on four kickoff returns but made a couple questionable decisions on bringing the ball out of the end zone. Seattle averaged 19.5 yards on two kickoff returns and 14 yards on one punt return.
COACHING: B-plus -- If Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has done anything since taking over the franchise prior to last season, he has instilled a no-excuses and a no-worry mindset with the team. Pagano is exceedingly positive with his players and that coaching style has paid dividends the last two years. That was very much in evidence during Indianapolis' comeback win over the Seahawks. There was no sense of panic as the Colts continued to battle back throughout the game.