Resilient Colts Blow by Vikings 34-6
The Chuck Pagano-led Indianapolis Colts, despite their obvious flaws, have one distinct characteristic that has never faltered throughout the years, and it was evident on Sunday when they faced the Minnesota Vikings.
After a loss to the Houston Texans last week, the postseason dream for Indianapolis began to quickly fade as they fell from first in the division all the way to third. With their playoffs hopes slim at best, an encore performance of the week before seemed inevitable for the Colts against the Vikings.
This was not the case, however. After blazing out to a 27-0 lead at halftime against the second-ranked Vikings defense, the team with almost nothing left to play for left Minnesota with a 34-6 win, as their resiliency kept them alive another week.
“I don’t know what it is about this group, but it seems like when our backs are against the wall and we’re in a must-win situation… this team responds,” said Pagano after the win.
It’s been mostly criticism that the head coach has had to deal with as of late. While the critics may have been accurate in their assertions of the team and the man that runs the team, the man, Pagano, has very rarely shown an affected attitude towards the noise created by the outsiders. He has continued to tell everyone that it’s a marathon rather than a sprint, and the only way you’ll ever finish that marathon is by taking it one step at a time. It has become cliché, almost sounding like a broken record due to the results of the past two seasons in particular, but regardless of it all, resiliency is in the DNA of the Colts, and it comes from Pagano.
Since Pagano and Andrew Luck arrived in Indianapolis in 2012, the Colts have only lost back-to-back games on four occasions, and have come back to win in the fourth-quarter 13 times in that span. The media is obviously annoyed by the weekly reminders to “keep chopping wood” by Pagano, but if they’ve realized anything by now, it’s that there is no changing him, because it’s what has got him this far, and while it might not keep him around for much longer, it’s what will keep him fighting.
His attitude has resonated with his players, which was clear when they pleaded to their owner to retain him during last offseason. It was clear last season when Luck was lost for the season. It was evident against Kansas City in 2013 in the playoffs when they came back to win 45-44, and it was evident on Sunday.
Against Minnesota, it was the less-established names who carried the team. Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns, while tight end Erik Swoope caught not only his first NFL touchdown, but his first ever at any level. Edwin Jackson, who has bounced up and down from the practice squad continued his strong play at inside linebacker, recording seven tackles. And then there was Mike Adams, whose name you’d only be unfamiliar because he normally goes by “Pops,” forced Adrian Peterson to fumble in the second quarter, and intercepted a Sam Bradford pass on the next Vikings drive. The bleak circumstances of the season did not deter Pagano’s bunch, in big part due to his attitude.
“We got great character in that locker room [and] we got great leadership,” said Pagano.
The win keeps the Colts' playoffs hope alive another week, but after a Houston win over Jacksonville, and a Tennessee win over Kansas City, the hope is not entirely lost, but things are not looking favorable at this point. With games remaining versus Oakland and Jacksonville, they will need to win out and hope for losses from their divisional rivals. While the fate of the postseason rests in the hands of others and no longer theirs, don’t expect this team to back down just yet.
“Chuck has an uncanny ability to turn whatever that energy is after the game into a positive direction,” said Luck after the game. We understood where we were, we understood we needed to come out and win.”
Jeff Tibbins covers the Indianapolis Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeff_tibbins.
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