INDIANAPOLIS – A Christmas present could be awaiting the Colts just a day before the holiday itself.
Head coach Chuck Pagano appears to have a shot at returning to the Colts’ bench for the December 30th game against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium-under three months after starting treatments for Leukemia.
If it were up to Bruce Arians, he’d be back a bit sooner.
“I think the perfect thing would be come in Christmas Eve,” said the interim head coach of Pagano, referencing the start of the team’s practice week. “It’d be a great Christmas present for all of us and that’s what our goal is, hopefully he can start Monday.”
Also in a perfect world it would be best for the Colts to have their post-season destiny decided. A win over Kansas City would do and likely lock the team into the fifth seed of the 2012 AFC Playoffs with no help from anyone else but themselves. If there could be a tribute to their coach there is none better than that.
“He feels great,” said Arians of Pagano. “He looks good and his counts were good and we’ve got our fingers crossed.”
The coach may be doing the same when it comes to his team’s pattern after defeats in 2012. This past Sunday the Colts lost to the Houston Texans, which they’ve have done four other times during the season. Each time they responded to that defeat with a victory in their next game.
“Regardless of whatever game we play, it’s a 24-hour rule. Win or loss, we’ve got to put it in the past and get ready for our next opponent,” said safety Antoine Bethea when asked about the teams’ 4-0 record after losses. “We’ve been doing a good job of that.”
Beginning immediately after their first loss to Chicago, when the Colts returned home to beat the Vikings in Week 2 23-20. Two weeks and Pagano’s Leukemia diagnosis separated the team’s defeat to Jacksonville with their game against the Packers, but they still followed it with a victory. Defeats to the Jets and Patriots were met in similar fashion as the Colts beat the Browns and the Bills, respectively.
“I think guys want to come back and play, bounce back and atone for their mistakes,” said Andrew Luck of the team after losses. “I think it’s sort of the DNA of the team and hopefully we can do that again this week.”
It will present a different variable than the past, since this game after a loss will be on the road. The opponent, however, are the Kansas City Chiefs who in a year of inconsistency and tragedy involving the murder-suicide of Javon Belcher have won just two games. Against Oakland on Sunday, the Chiefs could muster just seven first downs and 119 years in a 15-0 loss to the Raiders on the road.
“They love their coach. They want to fight for a job. They’re playing at home. They’re playing amongst their peers, their family and friends,” said defensive tackle Cory Redding on reasons the Colts won’t take the Chiefs lightly. “They want to go out there and prove to themselves that they are a worthy team and to keep their head coach.
“You can’t look at that. You have to go and just prepare and get a victory.”
Its those voices in the locker room, from players who have been around the league for a number of years, that Arians believes the team has played its best after the worst of results.
“I think the biggest thing is the veteran leadership,” said Arains of his team’s ability to be successful after defeat. “Those guys bounce back, they know how to get the young guys off the 24-hour rule and come right back in and start working.”