"Sometimes," Luck said, "you've just got to gut a win out."
The defense seized the day and forced four turnovers, a week after being shredded by Arizona.
"We made up our minds that enough was enough," Cory Redding said.
All in all, then, it was a gut-check day. "Theyre a resilient bunch," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Got more resolve than anybody I've ever been around."
But . . .
Everyone knew that already. The Colts' perseverance is a given.
Their offense currently is not. This team has produced two touchdowns in two games. The third down conversion rate Sunday was 3-for-14. Of the 104 yards rushing, 78 came on the last drive, and 24 — nearly a quarter of the day's total — on one Luck scramble.
But . . .
The Colts have atoned for enough sins to have a choke hold on first place. If they win next week in Cincinnati, they would be on a path to the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
"Every team goes through ups and downs," Vinatieri said. "As we always say, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Very seldom do you not have a speed bump or a roadblock. The good teams figure out way to get that behind you and keep moving forward."
Pagano is not shy of tinkering, which is why Brown was in the starting lineup Sunday and Trent Richardson was not. The buzz from the Richardson trade has long since faded, muted by too many one-yard gains.
So it was Brown who led the last clock-devouring scoring drive, when the Colts went marching north in Lucas Oil Stadium, just as their season threatened to go south. "Division hanging in the balance, everything on the line, and the guys manned up," Pagano said.
Not that he wants his team to relax with a three-game lead. "What I told the guys was, we're not going down that road," he said. "We're not exhaling."
But . . .
Lots of customers dressed in blue were exhaling late Sunday afternoon. Another crisis passed. This team of pluck and faults keeps plowing onward. How far, who could guess?