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INDIANAPOLIS — The fog of uncertainty clouding the NFL’s crystal ball makes it impossible to reveal whether Indianapolis and Seattle will meet on a neutral field the first Sunday of February.
Sunday’s 34-28 victory by the Colts resembled the brand of AFC-NFC slugfest people dream about when it comes to potential Super Bowl matchups.
Seattle, which Sunday lost its first game after starting 4-0, has proven to be virtually untouchable at home. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the NFC should the Seahawks go on to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Then there are the Colts.
Young. Confident. Hungry. Disciplined. Afraid of nothing.
Five games does not a regular season make. Not when there are 16 on the schedule. Yet one can’t help but be impressed at how Indianapolis continues to gain momentum and collect new believers every time it takes the field.
This was the ballclub that was supposed to be looking at a 1-2 record after being put in its place against the supposedly rough and tough 49ers at dumpy Candlestick Park.
Then Indianapolis channeled its inner ’67 Packers, kept the ground attack between the tackles and proceeded to run the ball straight down San Francisco’s throat. Game, set and mismatch.
Then it was time for a letdown at lowly Jacksonville. A trap game if ever one existed. The Colts didn’t play great last week, but didn’t have to in order to flatten the toothless Jaguars.
Pagano’s team isn’t doing this with mirrors. The Colts, who through five games have mastered the one-challenge-at-a-time mindset just as they did the entire 2012 season, are genuine.
Pagano said it best: “We’ve got something special.”
Because of a lot of special parts.
Linebacker Jerrell Freeman’s fourth-quarter chasing down of elusive Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson for a one-yard loss on third-and-2 was, very simply, the game’s best defensive play. Maybe the season’s to this point when it comes to the Colts.
On offense, the chemistry between quarterback Andrew Luck and ageless receiver Reggie Wayne makes it look as though they’re in their second decade, not season, playing pitch and catch.
Second-year wideout T.Y. Hilton is a star in the making, and Trent Richardson’s second- and third-efforts on a late-game first-down run netted 10 yards on a third down in which the Colts needed five. Unsung tailback Donald Brown (six carries, 37 yards) just does what is asked of him.
All behind an offensive line proving to be much better than originally advertised.
“All I can tell you is it feels good to be a Colt,” said Richardson, who carried the football 18 times for 56 yards. “It’s always positive. You never thought that we were going to lose the game. We played all four quarters, we played together. Special teams included. And everybody had that spark.”
Every victory in the NFL is special. Pagano and his players say this all the time.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that steamrolling ’Frisco the way they did in Week 3 is what demonstrated to all horseshoe-wearing parties that greatness isn’t out of reach. That Indy deserves to be considered a serious Super Bowl contender.
San Francisco and Seattle already were and look at what happened.
New York City in February anyone?
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the (Franklin) Daily Journal, a sister paper to The Republic. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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