Don't look now, but the upstart Indianapolis Colts have jumped to the front
of class when it comes to securing one of the two available wild-card berths
in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
Coupled with the Pittsburgh Steelers' 20-14 loss at Cleveland, the Colts'
20-13 home-field National Football League win Sunday over Buffalo gives the
team a 7-4 record heading into next week's road game with Detroit.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, had eight turnovers without its two top quarterbacks
in losing to the Browns. The Steelers are now tied with surging Cincinnati
for the second wild-card spot, both with 6-5 records.
While interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians continues to stress
taking each game as it comes, coming away with a win over Buffalo was huge.
"You know, in the beginning when this thing was put together, [coach] Chuck
[Pagano] built everything on team. I think that was a team victory right
there," Arians said Sunday. "I couldn't be prouder of the football team
because Chuck was [at the game] and the goal was to make him smile when he
left. And I'm sure he¹s up there [in team owner Jim Irsay's stadium suite]
Indianapolis had to battle through some rough patches en route to the win
over the Bills. With the Colts' offense slow to get untracked, it was left
up to the defense and – yes – the special teams units to come up with some
They certainly didn't disappoint. Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton's 75-yard
punt return for a touchdown midway through the first quarter had put
Indianapolis out in front early, giving the Colts a lead that they would
Two Adam Vinatieri field goals (from 25 and 19 yards out), along with an
8-yard pass from rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to Hilton late in the third
quarter, provided all the scoring Indianapolis would need. But the Bills,
who had come into the game needing a win in order to boost their post-season
hopes, certainly made things interesting.
Their defense sacked Luck four times, three by Pro Bowl end Mario Williams
and one by tackle Marcell Dareus, and intercepted him once (backup
cornerback Justin Rogers). Luck also looked out of rhythm all afternoon,
completing 20 of 37 passes for 240 yards and a TD. He misfired to wide-open
receivers early in the game and then struggled at times to get the ball
downfield due to the constant pass rush.
Still, the Colts made plays when necessary in other areas. Hilton's punt
return got Indianapolis off to a good start. The defense, led by inside
linebacker Jerrell Freeman, bent often but limited Buffalo to just one
touchdown and a pair of field goals by Rian Lindell (33 and 31 yards).
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's 1-yard toss to backup tight end Lee Smith
with 11:30 remaining in the game had narrowed the margin to 20-13. When it
looked like the Bills were on their way to tie the game in the fourth
quarter, safety Tom Zbikowski intercepted Fitzpatrick and returned it 20
yards before fumbling the ball back to Buffalo.
Still the Indianapolis defense made plays. With 4:31 left, the Colts' pass
rush forced Fitzpatrick out of the pocket on first down and a pickup of six
yards. Freeman, who ended the game with 16 total tackles, dropped Bills
running back C.J. Spiller for a 4-yard loss on second down.
A third-down pass from Fitzpatrick to Spiller fell incomplete. Buffalo
punter Shawn Powell's booted the ball away and pinned Indianapolis back at
its own 5-yard line. The Bills, though, never saw the ball again.
The Colts controlled the final 3:22 of the game, picking up a big first down
with an 11-yard run on second down. A 14-yard pass from Luck to wide
receiver Reggie Wayne, also coming on second down, gave Indianapolis another
first down and another chance to control the clock.
And, finally on third-and-10 with 1:48 left in the game, Luck's pass to
Wayne was incomplete but the Bills were called for pass interference on the
play. Game over.
Wayne ended the game with eight catches for 102 yards, which was impressive
enough. But he also used his veteran skills as a receiver to draw a pair of
crucial pass interference penalties, enabling the Colts to keep drives
"All phases, our special teams, showed up huge. I thought they won the game
for us. Not only with the return for the touchdown and the field position
they created but how well they covered. Those are two great returners
[Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin and Brad Smith]. We asked [punter] Pat [McAfee]
to have his best game ever as a kicker and he really contributed. He kicked
the ball great," Arians said afterward.
"They didn¹t give them anything on defense, hung in there when they had to.
Offensively, we were able to put a drive together and finish one there at
the end of the third quarter, which I thought was a solid drive. At the end
of the game, to be able to ice it out running and throwing – it's not a time
to get conservative, it¹s a time to make first downs. Our guys did a good
job of doing that."
Buffalo had some success offensively. Spiller rushed 14 times for 107 yards,
including a long run of 41 yards. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson caught six
passes for 106 yards, with a long play of 63 yards. But after both of those
plays, the Colts defense didn¹t allow a touchdown. And as the game turned
out, not giving up a TD in either or both situations loomed large later.
"You knew C.J. [Spiller] was going to break one or two; just keep him out of
the end zone and don't let him score. Our guys hustled to the end. We chased
some guys down on long plays and then defended every blade of grass that was
left and that¹s the way you play defense," Arians said.
Fitzpatrick completed 17 of 33 passes for 180 yards and a TD. He was also
sacked twice, one each by Freeman and outside linebacker Robert Mathis.
The Colts plan to celebrate the win over Buffalo for a short time and then
begin preparations for a tough matchup with Detroit.
"It's just one game at a time. Once you start doing that, we're going to add
them up and see where we stand tomorrow. I know we have seven wins and not
too many teams do," Arians voiced.
"We've got a big, big challenge in Detroit against a high-powered offense
and another great front four. We¹ll see how our guys came out [of Sunday's
game] and see who is available Wednesday and go back to work."
Don't look now, but the upstart Indianapolis Colts have jumped to the front
Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has quickly earned a reputation as someone who isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit.
Landry believes he'll acclimate to Colts system
Many Indianapolis fans have questioned why strong safety Laron Landry decided to skip the Colts' OTA workouts, especially since he was joining a new team with a somewhat different defensive system than what he was used to playing with the Jets.
He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
- Pagano amazed by collection of veterans
Opening Day: Terre Haute Rex host Quincy
In his first season at the helm, first-year Terre Haute Rex manager Ronnie Prettyman is going to be surrounded by men he knows and trusts.
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.
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- Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season