INDIANAPOLIS — After having their backs to the wall a couple of weeks ago, the Indianapolis Colts now have the look of a team on the verge of turning its National Football League season around.
The Colts got off to a shaky 3-4 start, but back-to-back wins over New England and Pittsburgh have Tony Dungy’s squad back in contention for a possible AFC wildcard playoff spot.
“I thought that [the 24-20 victory at Pittsburgh] was a big win for us in a lot of ways. We went on the road, again, and beat a good team on the road. And that’s always gratifying to win like we did, coming from 10 [points] down. That’s not easy to do, especially [at Pittsburgh]. That’s certainly a team you don’t want to fall behind and have to get one-dimensional on, having to throw to win,” Dungy said Monday.
“We did some things well. No. 1, taking care of the football and not turning it over. We still got hit by some of the penalties, which I don’t like to see. Had some really kind of fundamental errors. But, all in all, I thought we played hard. We held together. And won a game that we needed to make plays in the fourth quarter to win. So that was positive.”
While Indianapolis hasn’t been mathematically eliminated from the AFC South divisional hunt, the Tennessee Titans — now with a 9-0 record — will be tough to catch over the remainder of the regular season schedule.
With a 5-4 record, the Colts returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday to face divisional rival Houston before going back on the road to play at San Diego and Cleveland.
Dungy will allow Indianapolis to bask in the franchise’s first win at Pittsburgh since Sept. 9, 1968, for a couple of days. But the focus will return to the Texans and the task at hand on Wednesday.
“We fought. Didn’t play perfect, but we made enough things happen and faith in each other was the big thing [in the win],” the Colts coach said after the win over the Steelers.
Dungy said that the victory over Pittsburgh may have been the team’s best overall effort of the season thus far.
“I thought so. You’re playing a quality opponent. You get down by 10. It’s tough to come back [at Heinz Field]. And hanging in there, not letting things bother us. But hanging in there against a good opponent, it probably was [the biggest win of the year],” he said.
“I told our team [after the win over Pittsburgh] that three weeks in a row we’ve played the division leaders in the AFC. We’re in Tennessee in the fourth quarter and we really felt like [had] we played a little sharper, we can win that game. We beat the [AFC] East leaders [New England] and now we’ve beat the [AFC] North leaders.
“What it tells us is we can play with anybody. We’ve got to get sharp enough where we get a streak together and we get ourselves in [the AFC wild-card hunt]. If we do, we’re going to be in good shape. Just these last three weeks, playing against these top teams, our team knows where we are.”
Dungy, though, is stressing the importance of winning this week against the Texans. Indianapolis rallied from a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit for a 31-27 win at Houston on Oct. 5, so he knows the road to the postseason doesn’t get any easier.
“Houston was playing very well [in its loss to Baltimore]. They were in that game. Just a couple of turnovers, kind of similar to the way that they played against us, and all of a sudden they’re out of the game. But it’s going to be tough,” the Colts coach said.
“[Wide receiver] Andre Johnson’s playing great. It’s going to be [the Texans’] last stand, so we’ve got to be ready to defend our home turf and see if we can get on a three-game winning streak.”
Any chance to make a serious run for a wild-card spot in the playoffs is pretty much dependent on getting on a hot streak over the final two months of the regular season.
“You really do [have to get on a winning streak]. It’s hard to, you know, win two, lose one, win one, lose one and win enough games to get [to the playoffs]. And that’s how we’ve been in the first half of the year,” Dungy added.
“We talk about starting off the second half of the year. We got our first win, but now we’ve got to put [a win streak] together. And we’ve got a chance, coming back home, to get win No. 2 of the second half and build on it. And it will be critical to have a good performance and play better than we did against Pittsburgh.”
• Harrison fine — Wide receiver Marvin Harrison is fine, according to Dungy. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection suffered what was described by team officials as a concussion during the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh game. He was, however, able to return for the next Colts’ offensive possession and was able to finish the game.
“I promise you if he had a concussion that he wasn’t able to play, he wouldn’t have been in the game. We’re very, very cautious about that. We’ve had guys out for a long time with concussions. So he was evaluated and was allowed to go back in the game,” the Colts coach said.
Harrison had three catches for 37 yards against the Steelers, but wasn’t able to come up with at least three other passes from quarterback Peyton Manning where it appeared that he had gotten behind the Pittsburgh secondary. He ranks fourth on the team this year with 30 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s 100 percent. It’s just one of those stretches we’re going through. We have taken those plays for granted ever since I’ve been here, that we’re normally going to get two or three deep shots. And when we get them, and we get them set up, they’re usually touchdowns,” Dungy said.
“We’ve had Reggie [Wayne] catch two tipped balls where he’s covered pretty well [against Pittsburgh]. And we got Marvin open and haven’t been able to hit him. So we just have to keep working. But he’s 100 percent and hopefully we’ll hit some of those in the second half of the year.”
Dungy dismisses any talk of the 36-year old Harrison losing any of his athletic skills.
“He’s practicing and working. If he wasn’t getting open and wasn’t getting behind people, I’d be concerned. But every game we seem to get him behind people. We’ve taken those for granted. I think we’ll hit him in the future hopefully,” he said.
• Wayne sprains ankle — While the Colts appeared to have come out of the Pittsburgh game in relatively good shape physically, a sprained ankle suffered by wide receiver Reggie Wayne may limit his work in practice this week.
“Reggie got rolled up on the one ball that was incomplete, an ankle sprain. But other than that, I think just minor, minor stuff. Should be OK,” Dungy said. “He’s gotten banged up a little bit the last two weeks. He finds a way to keep going. I don’t know much he’ll be able to practice [this week]. But my sense is he’ll be ready on Sunday.”
INDIANAPOLIS — After having their backs to the wall a couple of weeks ago, the Indianapolis Colts now have the look of a team on the verge of turning its National Football League season around.
Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
The Indianapolis Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive lineman can also play left outside linebacker.
Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
The Indianapolis Colts head into the 2013 NFL Draft with some definite plans.
Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
Veteran defensive end Cory Redding is a big fan — literally and figuratively — of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
The Indianapolis Colts were a busy team on the opening day of the National Football League’s veteran free agent market, which got underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson makes no bones about it. He enjoys watching prospective football players strut their stuff.
Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
According to most National Football League draft observers, this year’s crop of prospects is deep with quality offensive and defensive linemen.
Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
Colts’ new offensive coordinator will offer variety
Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
Moving on. That’s the immediate plans for the Indianapolis Colts as they head into the off season.
Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Switching sides: Colts-Ravens matchup includes old friends on new teams
Just as Baltimore Ravens players and coaches will be seeing some old friends returning to M&T Bank Stadium today, several Indianapolis Colts veterans will also have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a familiar face.
Pagano prepares Colts for tough crowd in Baltimore
As a former resident of Baltimore, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows all about the hard feelings that still run strong about the move of the Colts franchise to Indianapolis in 1984.
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