The Colts went into Denver the underdog. Few people outside of Indianapolis gave them a chance. They hadn’t won big enough games. They didn’t play many good teams. They didn’t have a strong enough offensive line or a tough enough defense. They couldn’t win a playoff game on the road.
The Colts left Denver the team headed to the AFC Championship game. The team you don’t bet against. The team that could surprise anyone.
And the three hours in between were all about one thing…taking the next step. It’s what Coach Pagano started preaching at the start of the postseason. It was time.
This new generation of Colts made the playoffs their first season together, a season they spent most of without Pagano, who was fighting Leukemia at the time. They lost that game to their coach’s former team, the Baltimore Ravens. The following year, they won a playoff game (an instant NFL classic) against the Kansas City Chiefs and went on to lose to the Patriots in New England.
The next step for the Colts was moving on the AFC Championship game. There were so many reasons they couldn’t do it. They were outmatched against the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning would prove too much. The Colts defense could do too little against the ground attack.
They got it done. The Colts went into Denver, beat the team Pagano used to cheer for, in the place he grew up (with his dad on the sideline), and against their former (and future Hall of Fame) quarterback.
Next step taken.
This week, the Colts go back to Foxborough to the play the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
I’d say they’ve already won…
But something tells me this team won’t be satisfied with that.
So, instead…I’ll just say I’m proud.