Colts live up to early promises with early win

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 17, 2012
The Indianapolis Colts are already off to a new start. After stumbling out of the gate last season with 13 consecutive losses and dealing with the interminable questions about going winless, new coach Chuck Pagano and new quarterback Andrew Luck have already made sure that won't happen again. They're beginning to re-establish home-field advantage with three straight wins at Lucas Oil Stadium, though two of those in the preseason. They've held two of the league's top running backs - Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte - to less than 100 yards rushing. And the new quarterback has already proven he can win in the NFL. It's a promising start for a team that is back at .500 for the first time since the end of the 2010 season. ''I think the biggest difference now is that guys are more excited to come to work,'' said veteran defensive tackle Fili Moala, one of those who survived last year's fallout. ''It wasn't as if anyone turned on each other. Players, as a whole, had each other's backs. But this year, even though we haven't really done anything yet, it's a relief to get a win under our belt.'' Nobody was happier Monday than Luck, the one big prize Indy (1-1) reaped from its horrendous 2011 season. For two years, draft analysts called Luck the most NFL-ready quarterback since Peyton Manning, and the best quarterback to come out of Stanford since John Elway. So when Indy released Manning in March to make room for Luck, the comparisons were inevitable. After throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in a 41-21 season-opening loss at Chicago, Luck's numbers were virtually identical to his predecessor's NFL debut in 1998. And after seeing a seemingly healthy Manning led the Broncos to a Week 1 victory, some fans started questioning whether the Colts made the right decision by starting over in 2012. The No. 1 draft pick delivered his counter argument Sunday. Luck went 20 of 31 for 224 yards with two touchdowns, no turnovers and led the Colts on a masterful 45-yard game-winning drive in the final 31 seconds of his first NFL home game. Manning was 21 of 33 for 188 yards with one TD and three interceptions in his second start, at New England, as he opened the 1998 season 0-4. ''I think there is a sense of relief about when's it (the first win) going to come, when's it going to come?'' said Luck, who needed three fewer games than Manning to collect his first NFL win. Neither Luck nor defensive end Cory Redding were around to see last year's carnage. But Redding, who reached the playoffs each of the past two years in Baltimore, knows what losing early can do to a team. In 2009, he played with the 5-11 Seahawks and in 2008, he played on the only 0-16 team in league history - the Detroit Lions. ''It's a huge factor,'' Redding said when asked about the impact of waiting anxiously to get a first win. ''Guys aren't playing within the scheme of the team concepts because they're doing what they can to make a play. I've been part of that, and the guys start to say `Forget this.''' Winning early, on the other hand, has put Indy's players at ease. The veterans who endured last season's debacle acknowledged Monday that they're glad 2012 won't be like 2011, regardless of how many games they win, and the newcomers are just happy that they've already answered one big question. ''Now it won't be looming over us, so we're very happy about that,'' Luck said. It wasn't just the win that has given the Colts confidence, it's the way Indy won. The defense held fast for the first 54 minutes, yielding only two field goals, despite playing without Dwight Freeney. Luck, who played the entire second half without three starters on the offensive line, continually escaped trouble and made big plays when he had to. He found a wide open Reggie Wayne behind zone coverage for a 30-yard TD pass with 7 seconds left the first half took, took advantage of Minnesota's mistakes early in the second half and finally moved the Colts into field goal range at the end of the game. It's still unclear whether the Colts' injury situation will be any better next week. Freeney (sprained left ankle), receiver Austin Collie (concussion) and right tackle Winston Justice (concussion) are all listed as day to day. Center Samson Satele, who left in the first half with an undisclosed knee injury and did not return, was waiting to hear back from doctors about MRI result. Pagano hasn't said yet whether left guard Joe Reitz (knee) will play this weekend against Jacksonville, either. But Sunday's victory has the Colts' thinking big. ''It's huge for the locker room, huge for morale, huge for everything moving forward,'' Pagano said.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Paul George extremely critical of Pacers following trade deadline

Chris Bosh joining TNT as analyst

Cameron Payne will have chance to shine with Bulls

Danny Ainge opens up about why Celtics didn’t make a trade before deadline

Kevin Durant wants to be NBA GM or owner after playing career

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Mavericks discussing buyout with Deron Williams

T-Wolves reportedly backed away from Ricky Rubio-Derrick Rose trade

DeMarcus Cousins calls duo with Anthony Davis ‘Fire and Ice’

Reasons why 76ers got so little for Nerlens Noel emerge

John Lynch: 49ers ‘absolutely’ need to improve at QB position

Report: Raptors trade Jared Sullinger, two future picks to Suns for P.J. Tucker

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Box Score 2/23: Gillon's buzzer-beater blast for the win

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker