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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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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

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Marcel ReeceNov 22 04:42p

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Arian FosterNov 22 04:22p

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Josh GordonNov 22 01:32p

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A.J. JenkinsNov 22 12:42p

The Kansas City Chiefs have placed WR A.J. Jenkins (shoulder) on the Reserve/Injured list.

Charles ClayNov 21 05:52p

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Arian FosterNov 21 05:32p

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Jason AvantNov 21 04:52p

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Delanie WalkerNov 21 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is listed as probable for Week 12.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Week 12, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 03:02p

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Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Friday, Nov. 21. Fitzgerald was working on the side during that part of practice.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 02:22p

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) has passed his concussion test and is good to go in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Giovani BernardNov 21 02:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, clavicle) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12.

Julius ThomasNov 21 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins after putting in a limited practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 02:02p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) practiced in full Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, according to head coach John Fox.

Julius ThomasNov 21 01:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle), who appeared limited during practice Friday, Nov. 21, figures to be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Thomas said [ More ]

Dwayne AllenNov 21 01:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jonas GrayNov 21 01:22p

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Jordan ReedNov 21 01:12p

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Emmanuel SandersNov 21 01:12p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is participating in practice Friday, Nov. 21.

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LeGarrette BlountNov 21 10:32a

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Jeremy HillNov 21 10:02a

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Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

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