The Indianapolis Colts have been spoiled with homegrown quarterbacks for almost two decades. Drafting and developing franchise quarterbacks is not as easy as the Colts have made it look.
Just ask the majority of NFL teams.
But the Colts are the envy of the league in that regard and are back in the postseason for the 14th time in the past 16 seasons.
Andrew Luck is responsible for the past three, as he has seamlessly taken over for Peyton Manning.
Luck’s latest achievement is leading the Colts to the AFC South title this season, his second division title in three years. The Colts were a wild-card team the other season in Luck’s young career.
Not too shabby. Now, though, Luck and the Colts are looking to make a postseason run. They have yet to reach an AFC title game.
“You understand that you don’t take it for granted, but you’ve got to do something with it,” Luck told reporters after the Colts clinched the division.
“We realize we’ve got two games to go until we need to start thinking about that, though.”
The Colts are in an interesting position at this stage. They are guaranteed to host a playoff game, however, are still mathematically in the hunt for home-field. But that would require New England and Denver to lose out and Indianapolis to win out.
That scenario is highly unlikely, of course, which brings into question whether the Colts will rest some of their starters the final two games.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We can control how we’re going to play Sunday. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the rest of the division and conference. We’re going to do everything we can to give ourselves the best possible chance in the playoffs.”
In other words, don’t expect the Colts to let their foot off the gas against the Cowboys. They certainly want to lock up the No. 3 seed to avoid going to the top-seeded team’s home in the second round.
Love for Wayne
Receiver Reggie Wayne played in his 209th game last week against Houston, moving him past Manning in the franchise record book.
It’s been quite a career for Wayne, who has more than 14,000 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns. He has not made a decision whether this season will mark the end of his standout career, but he’s established himself as one of the better receivers of his generation.
That’s why it was an easy decision for Pagano and the team to give Wayne the game ball following their 17-10 victory over Houston.
“We gave out one game ball and that was to Reggie,” Pagano said. “We talk about availability all the time. He’s been available for a long, long time, and he’s always showed up. One hundred forty-two wins, all-time franchise record.
“Really glad that things worked out the way that they worked out especially for that player. He embodies everything that we talk about. ... He’s going to be in the Ring of Honor at some point. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame at some point.”
Said Wayne: “It’s bigger than me. It’s everyone that’s involved with me that deserves a game ball. At some point in time, it’ll sink in.”
▪ The Colts received good news on receiver T.Y. Hilton, who left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. An MRI came back negative and he is expected to practice this week.
▪ Return specialist Josh Cribbs joined the Colts with hopes of experiencing the postseason. He’ll get to do that for the first time as a 10-year veteran. Said Cribbs: “I definitely am not taking it for granted. It means something special to me. It’s not describable.”
▪ Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson hasn’t waited quite as long as Cribbs, but is also going to the playoffs for the first time in a nine-year career. Said Jackson: “In this league, you have to work with everything you get. Being in a situation like this ... I wouldn’t change a thing.”
4,492 Yards passing by Luck, most in the NFL
“We’ve got to improve. I think for one, we’ve won the past couple of games, which is important to us. At the end of the day, that’s important. It’s all about getting the win, that’s what it is. We’ve got to improve and we know we’ll do that, and it’ll be at practice, it’ll be in meetings and hopefully the game.” — Luck after the Colts narrowly escaped with a 17-10 win over the Texans
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760