Finally, Colts have control in crowded AFC South

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Now, the Indianapolis Colts need help from no one.

They don’t need the Houston Texans to continue their death spiral, beginning with Sunday’s rematch in Lucas Oil Stadium.

They don’t need the Tennessee Titans to stumble, beginning with Sunday’s meeting with the Denver Broncos in Nashville.

Now – finally – the Colts have everything in front of them following their 41-10 undressing of the New York Jets Monday night in MetLife Stadium.

Take care of business over the final four games, and take your place in the postseason.

There’s a three-way logjam atop the AFC South with the Colts, Texans and Titans at 6-6, and it’s up to the Colts how it unfolds. Even if the Colts and Tennessee finish with four-game winning streaks and 10-6 records, the pertinent tie-breaker – head–to-head – favors Indy since it swept the Titans.

Win, and in. Even going 3-1 might be enough, but no one inside the Colts’ West 56th Street complex is considering that.

“It’s great,’’ Andrew Luck said after dissecting the Jets with 278 yards, four touchdowns and a career-best 147.6 passer rating despite sitting out virtually the entire fourth quarter. “We’ve always felt like we control our own destiny.

“If we do something bad, there’s no one to point the finger at but us. If we do something good, then it’s OK, great. Then it’s on to the next one. We know how important the next game is. (Chuck Pagano) has been preaching one-game playoffs. We had a one-game playoff tonight, and we’ll have a one-game playoff next weekend.’’

The Colts have won three of the last four – Luck sat out the Pittsburgh loss with a concussion – and it’s imperative they make it four of the last five when the Texans visit. Houston is fading, having lost three straight.

No one inside the locker room, or outside it for that matter, has forgotten the Colts blowing a 23-9 fourth-quarter lead, yielding two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes and losing in overtime at Houston Oct. 16.

The opportunity to atone for the meltdown in Houston was foremost on players’ minds following the blowout of the listless Jets.

“Do I think about what happened before? Hell yeah,’’ safety Mike Adams said to “I don’t need a refresher on that. We had that game. We know we had it. There’s no need to sugarcoat it.

“We have to have it this weekend. We need it back.’’

Running back Frank Gore agreed.

“I’m not going to lie,’’ he told “I know I was looking at the Houston Texans game (last Sunday, a loss at Green Bay). Just knowing that they lost meant that we had a big chance to get into the situation we’re in now with a win.’’

It’s a situation few outside the organization envisioned as the Colts were humbled by Jacksonville in London, were pummeled by Kansas City in Lucas Oil Stadium, even after they lost to the Steelers without Luck.

But here they are.

“Everything is right there in front of us and it’s out there for us and our guys understood that and regardless of what’s happened from the start of this season . . . it’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster ride,’’ Pagano said. “But our guys have stayed steady. They’ve stayed the course.

“We’ve got great leadership in that locker room and they’ve got great resolve and determination and they’re driven. The opportunity was sitting there, but you’ve got to win, you’ve got to play well and they did that.

“So we’re tied atop the division, but nothing matters unless we respond . . .’’

Beginning Sunday against the Texans.

A look at the remaining schedules of the Colts, Texans and Titans:

  • Colts: Houston (6-6), at Minnesota (6-6), at Oakland (10-2), Jacksonville (2-10).
  • Texans: at Colts (6-6), Jacksonville (2-10), Cincinnati (4-7-1), at Tennessee (6-6).
  • (BULLET) Titans: Denver (8-4), at Kansas City (9-3), at Jacksonville (2-10), Houston (6-6).