INDIANAPOLIS — Play clean. That's been one of the credos that the Indianapolis Colts have tried to live by this season.
A year ago, turnovers and penalties were two of the Colts' biggest issues. Quarterback Andrew Luck had 18 interceptions, and he fumbled five times. As a team, Indianapolis was minus-12 in turnover ratio.
During the offseason, head coach Chuck Pagano stressed the importance of protecting the football. It looks like Indianapolis' players took his word to heart.
With the regular season wrapping up on Sunday, the Colts ended the year with a National Football League-low 14 turnovers. That set a franchise record, snapping the old mark of 17 that had been set in 2004 and 2008.
Indianapolis was also second in the league with the fewest penalties (66) to New England heading into the late round of games on Sunday.
The Colts had an opportunity to be the first team since the 2002 Kansas City Chiefs to lead the NFL in both categories and only the second team in the past 26 seasons to accomplish the feat.
"Taking care of the football. Not beating yourself," Pagano praised after Indianapolis' 30-10 win over Jacksonville. "Those things, guys caught fire. They kept playing."
Indianapolis had no turnovers and two penalties in the victory over the Jaguars.
Getting hot — The Colts won four of the last five regular-season games and three in a row as they head into the playoffs.
"Yeah. I would definitely say we've got hot, so to speak. Defense is playing lights out, gaining a ton of momentum, a ton of confidence. Offense is jelling at the right time," Pagano said. "Being able to get hot and play well in December and go 4-1 and go into the playoffs obviously with some momentum, some mojo, is going to work in our favor."
Mathis leads NFL in sacks — Outside linebacker Robert Mathis had a pair of sacks against Jacksonville, giving him a franchise-record 19.5 for the season.