ANDERSON — While Jeron Johnson and the Seahawks tried to convince officials Sunday that the Seattle safety had gained possession of a blocked punt in the end zone and should be awarded a touchdown, Colts safety Antoine Bethea rallied his troops on the opposite sideline.
It was a rare show of emotion from the eighth-year vet — who later said he's only tried the tactic once before, during the season-opening loss last year in Chicago. But with Indianapolis' deficit about to grow to 12-0 less than five minutes into the first quarter, Bethea felt he had to get something off his chest.
"It wasn't nice," he admitted Monday during a conference call with team reporters. "It was a little animated."
It also worked.
The Colts surged back to take a 14-12 lead early in the second quarter and won 34-28 after the ninth fourth-quarter rally in quarterback Andrew Luck's first 21 games.
Bethea was guarded about the specific words he used at Lucas Oil Stadium, but he shared the general message.
"Just felt like we weren't really playing our style of ball the way we really wanted to play," he said. "Just something needed to be said. Somebody needed to say something."
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has seen this before, on other sidelines in other cities. It's the mark of strong leadership, and it's just the latest evidence that his vision for this football team is coming to fruition.
For the first time since 2010 — and the first time since 1996 without a certain record-setting quarterback on the roster — Indianapolis is in sole possession of first place in the AFC South.
At 4-1, the Colts have a full game lead over Tennessee (3-2) and two games on struggling Houston (2-3). Just as importantly, the team has won three straight to kick off a six-game stretch that likely will define its season.