Another home game, another meeting with the Tennessee Titans.
The Indianapolis Colts, fresh off last week’s 40-11 road loss to Arizona, know what’s at stake against the Titans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis is 7-4 and 3-0 in the AFC South. Tennessee, meanwhile, is 5-6 overall and 0-3 within the division. A Colts win would bring them ever closer to the AFC South title. A Titans victory, though, keeps their hopes alive for a playoff berth.
“We’re in the same position as we were the last time we played [Tennessee],” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday. “[We’re] coming off getting our butts kicked [to the Cardinals] and we rebounded with a road win. The only difference this time is that it’s a home game.”
Two weeks ago, Indianapolis went to Nashville’s LP Field after dropping a 38-8 home game to St. Louis. The Colts fell behind Tennessee early, trailing 17-6 at halftime, before rallying in the second half in a 30-27 victory.
This time, there’s another distraction. Colts owner Jim Irsay offered up several tweets Tuesday in which he challenged his team to do better.
Pagano understands Irsay’s passion. He also knows just how big Sunday’s game means in regards to his team’s postseason plans.
“We know the magnitude as coaches and players,” he said. “We understand what the expectations are. … As players, they understand it. We’ve got a job to do and we’re going to work to get that job done. This team and this [coaching] staff has done a great job [of] keeping the blinders on and staying focused.”
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the more influential members of the Colts’ locker room, wasn’t fazed by Irsay’s comments either.
“He’s the only boss I’ve ever known, so it’s the norm for me,” Mathis admitted. “He’s a winner. He’s used to winning. He likes winning. In order to change things, you have to win.
“If you need more motivation than this being your job and the threat of somebody taking your job every week, then you shouldn’t be in this league.”
Losing is one thing. But the fact that last two losses have come in blowouts is tough for Pagano and the coaching staff to accept.
“Yeah, it bothers everybody. It makes you sick to your stomach. That’s why we come back to work. That’s why you stick to the process. You got to do more and you got to do better. You got to execute,” he said.
“It’s all right there on tape, why it happens. It’s easy to see.”
n Injury list — Safety Sergio Brown underwent hand surgery on Tuesday after he was hurt during the Arizona game. Brown, who blocked a field goal attempt, has not been ruled out of the Tennessee game just yet.
The Colts may be without the services of cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, who are both sidelined with groin injuries. Davis was hurt against Arizona. Toler, meanwhile, has been recovering since getting hurt against Denver on Oct. 20.
Brown, Davis, Toler, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) and inside linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday.
Fullback Stanley Havili returned for Wednesday’s practice after sitting out last week with a concussion. He has been cleared for practice but is still waiting for final clearance to participate in the Titans’ game. Havili was hurt in the first meeting with Tennessee on Nov. 14.
n Fact of the day — Before coming to Indianapolis, backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was the Titans starter for parts of the last two seasons.
While living in Nashville, Hasselbeck and his family rented a house that had celebrity landlords: country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
n Thanksgiving plans — The Colts will have an early practice today before breaking for the holiday.
“Everybody’s going to get some time. We’ll come in an hour early, start an hour early and go through a normal Thursday, as far as meetings and practice, and then get everybody out of here, coaches and players, so they have an opportunity to go and be with family and spend some time,” Pagano said.
“We all have a ton to be thankful for, and so we’re certainly not going to take any day for granted. So we’ll get our work done and then we’ll get out of here.”
When asked what his Thanksgiving Day menu consisted of, was he more partial to turkey or ham, the Colts coach had a quick answer.
“Pasta,” he laughed. “There will be a turkey laying around somewhere, but there will be pasta boiling somewhere, and that’s what I’ll have.”
Defensive end Cory Redding, meanwhile, plans to take full advantage of a good holiday spread.
“I don’t watch calories. I have to take on double team all day [in games],” Redding smiled.
Another home game, another meeting with the Tennessee Titans.
Colts sign former Giants receiver Nicks
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Colts keep Vinatieri, Davis, Bradshaw in fold
With the NFL’s free-agency signing period getting underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday, it was fairly certain that the Indianapolis Colts would be active participants.
The Colts went into free agency with around $40 million of salary cap space in their back pocket. Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson, however, had indicated at the National Football Scouting Combine that he wanted to be judicious in how the team spent its money.
Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years
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Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
Grigson says Colts likely not to make big splash in free agency
Don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to go wild in the upcoming free-agent market.
While the Colts will have anywhere from $33 to $37 million to spend this offseason, Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson says the franchise will be a bit more selective when it comes to signing any prospective veteran free agents.
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The Indianapolis Colts made plenty of progress over the course of the 2013 season.
And the Colts fought through some adversity as injuries hit the team hard at several positions, most notably at wide receiver (Reggie Wayne), tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw), offensive line (Donald Thomas) and cornerback (Greg Toler).
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
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Blunt force trauma: Patriots running game too much for Colts
LeGarrette Blount ran the New England Patriots into their third straight AFC championship game.
The 250-pound back had four touchdown runs and New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Sunday night.
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Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
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Luck leads huge rally as Colts grab first playoff win for Pagano
What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
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Record-setting Indy win
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In major gain, Colts lead NFL in fewest turnovers
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Colts’ chief strength: No panic
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Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
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Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
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Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
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Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
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Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
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