The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Pro Sports

November 24, 2013

Colts prepare for key clash with Cardinals

INDIANAPOLIS — It's been a season filled with reunions for the Indianapolis Colts.

From Andrew Luck's meeting with one of his college head coaches, Jim Harbaugh, and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 to former quarterback Peyton Manning's epic homecoming with the Denver Broncos in Week 7, this team has learned to ride the emotional roller coaster.

So today's visit with former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals is little more than business as usual.

"Honestly, I don't think guys get too caught up (in the storylines)," second-year quarterback Andrew Luck said. "I know I haven't. The emotions of seeing someone comeback or going somewhere or going up against a buddy or an old coach, I think football is an emotional game as it is. I know I haven't had a problem — I don't think guys in this locker room have — putting aside those emotions.

"We realize every game is a big game. You focus on that. You focus on the opposition, not the side stories. We leave that for you guys (in the media) and the fans."

Indeed, Luck has his hands full enough preparing for a Cardinals defense that is eighth in the league in scoring and ninth in total yards.

Arizona has surrendered less than 300 total yards in each of the past three games, and the NFL's second-ranked rushing defense gave up just 32 yards on the ground last week at Jacksonville.

It's the kind of all-around challenge that has Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano contemplating whether this might be the best defense his team has faced all season.

"You could argue that," he said. "They're really good, front to back, got playmakers at all three levels. The front is outstanding. The linebackers are very, very active, athletic and fast, make a lot of plays. The secondary is really good. You could argue that."

That secondary is led by cornerback Patrick Peterson — one of the game's most feared defensive playmakers, who has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries this season — and rookie sensation Tyrann Mathieu.

There were questions about whether the former LSU star known as "The Honey Badger" could translate his high-risk, big-play style to the professional level. So far, the 21-year-old has remained clean off the field and produced two interceptions and one forced fumble on it.

In all, Arizona has eight defenders with at least two takeaways this season — including linebacker Karlos Dansby (one interception, one fumble recovery), safety Yeremiah Bell (two interceptions), defensive end Calais Campbell (two fumble recoveries), linebacker Daryl Washington (two interceptions, one fumble recovery), safety Rashad Johnson (two interceptions) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (three fumble recoveries).

And none of those players is currently the hottest star on the defense. That honor goes to linebacker John Abraham, a free-agent addition who has seven sacks and three forced fumbles in the past four games.

The Colts can take some solace in the fact that Abraham is questionable today with a hamstring injury, but there's no question about the challenge the Cardinals present.

"Very salty defense," Luck said. "They play hard. They do a good job of stuffing the run. They got a good front seven and a really talented secondary. They play hard, too. You turn on the film, you see guys flying to the football, getting hands on the football."

It's a particularly stern test for an Indianapolis offense that has struggled to find its way in recent weeks. The Colts have been outscored 66-9 in the first halves of their last three games before finding a way to rally and win two.

At 7-3, Indianapolis enters the week as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs by virtue of a better conference record than the 7-3 New England Patriots. Arizona (6-4) is part of a three-team tie for the sixth and final playoff seed in the NFC, hoping to keep pace with division rival San Francisco and the Chicago Bears.

In addition, the Colts can clinch their first AFC South title since 2010 with wins against the Cardinals today and the Tennessee Titans next week.

The whole scenario lends a playoff feel to today's contest, something that's not unusual for November and December games in the NFL.

"This is the time where you can position yourself and look real nice going into January or you can stink it up and be at home saying, 'I shoulda, coulda, woulda,'" defensive end Cory Redding said. "We don't want that. We worked too doggone hard the last two years to build what we built, to be where we're at now. Me, myself, personally, my teammates, Chuck, this organization, we're not just going to stand by and watch everything we worked so hard for go down in flames. We're going to go out fighting."


Text Only
Pro Sports
  • PACERS LEGEND 1.jpg Leonard still believes in the Pacers

    For the past 36 hours, the NBA universe has been buzzing about the decision made by Indiana Pacers' coach Frank Vogel to rest all of his starting five Wednesday in Milwaukee.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tiger Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters

    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.

    April 1, 2014

  • SPT - HB0325 - Adam Lind swing Momentum swinging in Lind's favor Adam Lind is hitting .386 with one home run and seven RBIs through 15 Grapefruit League games this spring.

    March 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0322 - Grigson art Grigson happy with offseason additions Though he stopped just short of declaring his shopping spree over, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear Friday he's happy with the team's offseason haul.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0318 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • George Bremer-2.JPG George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football

    Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_irsaymugshot.jpg Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bryant Orem said.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0316 - Nicks photo Nicks betting deal with Colts will pay off Hakeem Nicks is betting on himself. The 25-year-old wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring and a long injury history from five years with the New York Giants chose a fresh start in Indianapolis because he believes the pieces are in place for the franchise to make a long postseason run.

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0315 - Nicks art Colts add WR Nicks on one-year deal The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver corps was severely depleted in the second half of the 2013 season. On Friday, the franchise bought an insurance policy for this fall.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0314 - Jones art Colts DL Jones comes from fighting family If nothing else, Arthur Jones is up for a fight. Most older brothers are confident they can best their younger siblings. But it jumps to another level when the younger brother is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

Photographer’s pick
AP Video
Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement Raw: UConn Celebrates for Second Straight Night UConn Women Win NCAA Basketball Championship Raw: Workers at Brazil Olympic Park on Strike Some Arrests As Fans Celebrate UConn Win UConn Wins NCAA Men's Basketball Championship UConn Wins NCAA Men's Basketball Champsionship Connecticut, Kentucky Fans React to NCAA Win Connecticut, Kentucky Meet for the Title AP Player of Year: Creighton's Doug McDermott Fearsome Final Foursome Head to North Texas College Athletes Take Labor Cause to Washington Northwestern Practices After Union Ruling Woods Has Back Surgery, Will Miss the Masters Raw: Obama, 'Big Papi' of Red Sox Take Selfie Raw: LA Angels Don Baylor Suffers Leg Injury Seahawks, Sounders Visit Town Near Mudslide Milwaukee Brewers' Adopted Mascot Is Big Hit Tigers' Cabrera Gets Record $292M, 10-year Deal
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin