INDIANAPOLIS – He wasn’t about to make the splash that his coaching counterpart did nearly a decade ago, but Greg Manusky was willing to at least reference it.
“Of course, we play the game to win the game,” said the Colts defensive coordinator. “That saying there was from (Herman Edwards).”
The former coach made that comment while with the Jets in 2002 and in ten years it has become a viral sensation along with a rallying cry of many throughout the league.
Without having to say it so boisterously, Chuck Pagano reiterated that phrase in his first week back with team as he announced his intentions to play the starters despite their game against the Texans on Sunday having no bearing on their playoff seeding.
“From day one, we had a week and we set goals for ourselves and just watching what this team has done over the course of the last 12 weeks and the entire season, it’s just not in our DNA, it’s not in our makeup,” said Pagano of why he won’t rest the starters on Wednesday. “These kids deserve it, their families deserve it, our fans in this city deserve our best every game regardless of the situation and regardless of the circumstances.
“They’re going to roll a ball out there and it’s our job to go out there and try to win a football game.”
On Thursday many of the players supported Pagano’s desire to play for the win even if it is just for pride.
“We want to go in with some momentum. We don’t want to sneak in the back door, per se,” said quarterback Andrew Luck of playing Sunday. “I know I need to work. I know every game you learn from those experiences and try and get better. I need to get a lot better so I’m excited.
“I know the fans deserve it. They’ve been great all year so very excited.”
Youth on the team was one of the reasons that Pagano was adamant on Wednesday that the Colts not change course for Sunday’s game. For some of the veterans, however, the rest could prove to be beneficial after the grind of 15 games.
“Some of the mentality we’ve had for years around here is some of the guys who are banged up may get some more rest,” said defensive end Dwight Freeney, referring to the Colts’ resting players in the past. “Guys who need to sharpen that lead, sharpen it. That’s just what it is. I don’t know how long, or when they’ll pull, or if they’ll pull.
“For us, we just go out there and fire orders. If they say, ‘go out there’ then we go out there. That’s it.”
Two Colts found out they’ll do that in one more game than the others. On Wednesday defensive end Robert Mathis and receiver Reggie Wayne were named to the Pro Bowl while Luck was designated as an alternate for the AFC team, though at the moment that seems far away.
“You sign up to play the game,” said Mathis of the starters playing Sunday. “We didn’t come approaching this game any other way but to win.”