ANDERSON, Ind. —
A young team rallied around Pagano's example and finished with the surprise playoff appearance.
The head coach returned just before Christmas and led the team to a 28-16 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium. That game, and the standing ovation Pagano received from the fans before it, was nominated for an Espy Award as the year's best sports moment.
Some have wondered what the Colts will use as motivation this season, with its head coach back on the sideline. But Pagano likely still is the answer.
As simple as the goal once seemed, the team would like nothing more than to play for its head coach for a full season.
"It'd be huge," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "It would be unbelievable. I think the most important thing last year was that he did come back and coach the last two games and was in remission. If we could have him for the whole season, that would be truly awesome."