The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

November 17, 2012

Rivalry 2.0: Colts pay visit to Patriots

Indianapolis looks to boost playoff hopes at New England

INDIANAPOLIS — Bruce Arians opened a team meeting this week with a simple show of hands.

How many players, the Indianapolis Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator wondered, are making their first trip to Foxboro, Mass., today?

About half the hands in the room went up, underscoring the challenge this young team faces against the defending AFC champion New England Patriots.

“He showed a picture of Tom Brady just so that we wouldn’t be staring at him across the field,” rookie tight end Dwayne Allen said of Arians’ response to the pop quiz. “That’s his way of saying the Patriots are who they are and we need to be focused on the game and not who we’re playing, what we need to do to win the game.”

CBS flexed the kickoff from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. to broadcast the game to a wider audience. It’s the kind of stage that can completely change the national conversation about the Colts (6-3).

A team many projected to repeat as the worst in the NFL is now widely accepted as a legitimate contender to make the playoffs in the AFC. But a win at New England (6-3) would further raise expectations, bringing the prospect of postseason victories into the picture.

Add in the history between the two franchises — 12 meetings since 2003, including three playoff games — and the stage is set for one of this weekend’s marquee matchups.

Veteran Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne, however, will help his younger teammates understand not to get too caught up in the hype.

“It’s just another game,” Wayne said. “It’s football. It’s got to be played, no matter if it’s New England or whoever our opponent is. It’s always fun. We are blessed to be playing a kid’s game, out there having fun. We are battling, but at the end of the day it’s still a game.”

And, yet, it feels like so much more.

Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck was 12 years old when Brady made his first NFL start — against Indianapolis, of course — on Sept. 30, 2001.

The Patriots’ future Hall of Famer has gone 8-5 in the rivalry overall, and all but one of those starts came against Canton-bound former Colt Peyton Manning.

“I know as a younger quarterback, you always tried to watch that game just because (of) the two sort of benchmark for the position guys,” Luck said. “So I remember some of the playoff games, some of the late games, I think when (New England’s) Gillette (Stadium) still had grass. It was always muddy late in the year. So, great games and great franchises.”

Luck gets his chance to leave his own mark on the rivalry today.

His completion percentage has risen over each of the past three weeks, and his 2,631 passing yards are more than any rookie in league history through his first nine games.

Luck needs one 300-yard game to set another rookie record with his fifth this season, and a win today would tie him with St. Louis’ Sam Bradford for the most in his debut season by a quarterback taken with the No. 1 overall pick.

“It looks like he’s getting better every week, playing with more and more confidence,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s got a great corps of receivers, tight end targets to throw it to. He shows a lot of poise to make all those throws. Very athletic in the pocket, scramble to run, can buy more time in the pocket to throw the ball down the field. He’s playing like a very experienced and poised player.”

With the league’s 29th-ranked pass defense, that’s not exactly what New England fans want to hear. But the Patriots hope the addition of former Tampa Bay cornerback Aquib Talib will help boost its leaky secondary.

New England also cut veteran wide receiver Deion Branch in a flurry of late moves Saturday.

Belichick is a master at creating unique gameplans specific to each week’s opponent, and it’s safe to say he’ll have something special for Luck and the Colts.

Indianapolis could unveil a defensive wrinkle of its own. The Colts have been working on a package with outside linebackers/pass rushers Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Jerry Hughes — who have 12 combined sacks — all on the field at the same time.

“The package has been in, and it will be a nice package for us because they’re good speed rushers and they’re all very physical,” Arians said. “It’s nice to have that luxury now to be able to use those types of things.”

Of course, Indianapolis’ real secret weapon could be head coach Chuck Pagano — who continues to receive treatment for leukemia. He attended Friday afternoon’s practice, once again lifting the spirits of his team.

“I’ve seen it so many times where a group of guys band together and different slogans, ‘Won’t be denied,’ this or that or whatever. They all come up with something,” Arians said. “This is just ‘1-2-3, Chuck.’”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - HB0424 - Frankton vs AHS - 048 Frankton hits early, often in win over Anderson Frankton pounded out 11 hits in handing Anderson its second softball loss in as many nights.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0424 - Alex v MG 3 Argylls hold on to top Tigers Pitching and defense win games, especially in girls high school softball and it was on display here Wednesday evening as the Madison-Grant Lady Argylls picked up a 4-1 Central Indiana Conference win over the host Lady Tigers.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indians come up short against Tigers in golf The Anderson Indians came up short against Yorktown 147-170 on Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Reggie photo for online notebook Colts notebook: Few doubts about Wayne in locker room If there are outside doubts about whether Reggie Wayne can return to form because of his age and the severity of his injury, few are shared inside the Indianapolis Colts' locker room.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0424 - Mathis armor Mathis' leadership paying off for Colts An authentic set of battle armor greeted visitors to Robert Mathis' locker Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. The black-and-gold helmet and chest plate look more at home in one of the "300" movies, but they are the proud possessions of the NFL's reigning sacks champion thanks to the generosity of Daniel Adongo and Bjoern Werner.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mike Lopresti: Pacers finally respond to critics So maybe the Indiana Pacers don't like being called wussies. Is that all it took, an on-air jab from Charles Barkley? Some brash talk, apparently, from Atlanta Hawks guard and Indianapolis native son Jeff Teague? Or was it the stark reality that they were closing in on owning the notorious legacy of a team that melted in the bright lights, faster than frozen yogurt?

    April 23, 2014

  • Rick Bramwell: Morel season off to a slow start The expectations, brought on by a harsh winter, have turned into a wait-and-see situation for morel hunters. A cooler than normal spring has put the tasty little sponges on ice.

    April 23, 2014

  • Tigers nip Argylls in girls track meet ALEXANDRIA -- Kelsey Crisp had a trio of firsts and a second place finish and her Alexandria Tigers needed every one of those as they nipped Madison-Grant 61-60 in a girls dual track meet here Tuesday. Crisp won the 100, the 400 and the long jump and

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - HB0423 - PHHS golf 1 PH displays depth, dismantles Delta Three of Pendleton Heights top five golfers sat out Tuesday’s match against Delta, and the Arabians barely missed a beat. Tyler Meyer and Chase Simpson fired low nine-hole scores of 36 to pace the Arabians to a 159-190 victory over the Eagles.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0423 - AU baseball - 117 Heberling lifts Ravens to crucial win Cole Heberling's 11th-inning hit landed in right field for an RBI-single Tuesday, and the Anderson University baseball team moved into sole possession of second place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 6-5 victory against Rose-Hulman.

    April 22, 2014 3 Photos