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Colts enter December in position to make playoffs

    2012-11-26 18:57

(Eds: Updates with quotes, details. With AP Photos.)
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts have a rookie quarterback, an interim coach, a long injury list and one of the league's youngest teams.

It's not supposed to be a winning combination in the NFL, yet somehow Indianapolis finds itself making a surprise playoff push as the calendar turns toward December. And as the stakes increase, the Colts seem immune to late-season pressure.

They just expect to win.

``It's worked this far,'' interim coach Bruce Arians said Monday. ``Just because it's December, the price of poker has gone up but the process is still the same.''

Indy's veterans never bought into the conventional wisdom they had to be patient for this rebuilding project to work. Instead, Pro Bowlers like Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis immediately showed their cards by rejecting any mention of the R-word during the offseason.

The rest of the team went all in with the same message, even if everyone else considered it nothing more than a bluff.

There was good reason for doubts.

At this time last season, the Colts were still winless and positioning themselves to win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. They finished a dismal 2-14, then blew up one of the NFL's most stable organizations by firing vice chairman Bill Polian, general manager Chris Polian, coach Jim Caldwell, releasing Peyton Manning and cutting ties with a handful of other key veterans.

Twelve months later, with Luck behind center, only four AFC teams have better records than Indy (7-4) and the postseason has become a real possibility.

``All of our dreams are still alive. We write our own destiny and that's the biggest thing,'' defensive end Cory Redding said after Indy's latest victory, 20-13 over Buffalo. ``We don't have to rely on anybody else to get a win or get a loss. Our destiny is in our hands. It's up to us to just continue to do what we're doing, keep playing hard, keep working hard to just continue to stack wins and stay in this hunt.''

The secret to the Colts' success is simple: They are 5-1 at home, 6-1 in one-possession games and have not lost back-to-back games all season.

Luck is still on pace for a historic rookie year and has already matched the rookie win total of Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick and NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2010.

Wayne is charging toward the best statistical season of his NFL career at the age of 34.

And even the usually-maligned defense has continued to show improvement despite losing both of its starting cornerbacks to injuries during the past month and playing most of this season without Freeney and Mathis on the field at the same time. On Monday, Arians announced the Colts had lost yet another key contributor - defensive tackle Fili Moala, who is expected to go on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ACL.

Since coach Chuck Pagano took an indefinite leave to battle leukemia, the Colts are 6-2 and Arians has moved into a tie for seventh all-time in victories by coaches who have taken over during the season.

Some are already lobbying for Luck to be the rookie of the year, first-year general manager Ryan Grigson to be executive of the year and, yes, Arians as coach of the year.

But none of this has fazed the Colts.

``We understand the position we're in, but again, nothing has been accomplished yet,'' Luck said.

With five games to play, the Colts are in good position, too.

They are currently the AFC's No. 5 seed, one game ahead of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and at least two games ahead of everyone else in the playoff hunt.

Their remaining schedule includes three teams with losing records - Detroit (4-7) on Sunday, home against Tennessee (4-7) the following week and a Dec. 13 date at Kansas City. The other two games are against Houston, including the regular-season finale. By then the Texans may have clinched the conference's top seed and the Colts could have Pagano back on the sideline.

Still, Arians realizes it won't be an easy path.

``We're the type of team, we're going to be in a lot of close games and fortunately we've found a lot of ways to win them,'' he said. ``The big thing for us is to go on the road and protect the football and play good defense and bring those special teams with us on the road and see if we can play our best football on the road.''

---

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Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

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Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

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Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 01:53p

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Julius ThomasNov 26 01:23p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited at practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Phil LoadholtNov 26 12:33p

Minnesota Vikings OT Phil Loadholt (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Geno SmithNov 26 12:23p

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R. Griffin IIINov 26 09:43a

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Colt McCoyNov 26 09:43a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has officially been benched in favor of QB Colt McCoy in Week 13. Head coach Jay Gruden informed the team Wednesday, Nov. 26.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 11:43p

The Washington Redskins are planning on benching QB Robert Griffin III for the Week 13 game against the Indianapolis Colts in favor of QB Colt McCoy. However, Griffin still [ More ]

Jace AmaroNov 25 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion) is in concussion protocol, according to head coach Rex Ryan, after suffering the concussion in Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 04:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was named the starter for Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts Monday, Nov. 24, by head coach Jay Gruden, but he left open [ More ]

Michael BushNov 25 04:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent RB Michael Bush (Bears) and cut RB Kerwynn Williams Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Brandon McManusNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos waived PK Brandon McManus Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Connor BarthNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos signed free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 25, after waiving PK Brandon McManus, according to a source.

Reggie BushNov 25 03:13p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he'll be ready to play Thursday, Nov. 27, after missing Week 12 with an ankle injury.

Latavius MurrayNov 25 02:43p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) will undergo baseline testing for his concussion Tuesday, Nov. 25, according to a league source. He is feeling good, but he must go [ More ]

Brian HoyerNov 25 01:53p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer was never in danger of being benched in favor of QB Johnny Manziel in the team's Week 12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, according [ More ]

Blake BortlesNov 25 01:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles went 15-for-27 for just 146 yards and an interception in the team's Week 12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he hasn't tossed a [ More ]

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