Playoff foe Indy avoids provoking Jets
Rex Ryan may be making Saturday night’s playoff game in Indianapolis “personal” because of the Colts’ 5-1 dominance over his teams. But the Colts are dealing with some of their own issues, which have nothing to do with playing footsie with the Jets’ head coach, so to speak.
A cluster of Negative Nellies had built up around the Colts during a 6-6 start. Now, after four straight wins to end the season at 10-6 and reach their NFL record-tying ninth postseason appearance, they are out to prove those people wrong.
“Check us out, that‘s all I can say,” Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. “We‘re always going to have the naysayers. The only thing we can do is go out there and play Colts football and do the things we’re supposed to do.”
They’ll have to beat the league’s third-ranked run defense in order to do that. But the Colts really aren’t about running, anyway. Peyton Manning, the quarterback who shredded Ryan’s defense in the AFC Championship Game last year, attempted a career-high 679 passes this year, even as he lost star targets Dallas Clark and Austin Collie to injury. Meanwhile, Indianapolis' patchwork defense will have to contend with the league’s fourth-best rushing team, led by LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.
"It looked pretty bleak there for a while, so we really felt like these last four weeks have been playoff games," Manning said.
It’s personal with the Colts, too. Only the feelings aren’t directed toward the Jets, but to the fans who couldn’t appreciate imperfect perseverance in the face of an enormous injury list.
“When we were 6-6, people were saying the Colts are done,” said coach Jim Caldwell who, unlike his Jets counterpart, keeps blackboard fodder to a minimum. “We have said all year, We define ourselves.”