INDIANAPOLIS — In a span of just a few days in late January of 2012, Chuck Pagano went from one of the lowest points of his coaching career to the highest.
It just seems as though he's turned around the Indianapolis Colts' fortunes as quickly.
On Sunday, the head coach and his players put the finishing touches on a second straight 11-5 season, routing the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-10 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts will open the playoffs at home against the Kansas City Chiefs next weekend, nearly two full years after Pagano inherited a team picking first in the NFL draft.
"We took this thing over a couple years ago, they had left us for dead," Pagano said. "All we did as a group of players and coaches was make a decision that we weren't going to live in circumstances. We were going to live in vision. We were going to go to work."
Indianapolis' work Sunday netted the team its first six-game sweep of AFC South opponents and gave it a three-game winning streak to end the regular season. The Colts could have moved up from the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs with a loss by either New England or Cincinnati, but both those teams won — setting up a rematch with Kansas City.
The Colts beat the Chiefs 23-7 on the road two weeks ago. But the playoffs always represent the start of a new season.
That won't change Pagano's philosophy. Or his goals.
From the start of training camp, Indianapolis has made it clear the objective is to reach Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. The finish line is three more wins away.
"We always talk about faith is believing in something that you can't see, and the reward is if you believe it long enough, you'll probably get to see it," Pagano said. "Our journey continues, and we're very excited to be in the playoffs."