The comment, evidently, came out a bit wrong. Andrew Luck didn’t mean to sound so dismissive, but the words stuck.
Because, with all due respect, they were true.
“To be honest, it really doesn't matter how you folks look at this team,” Luck said in the wee hours of Monday morning after a 42-20 loss to the Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“To us, what matters is we lost a game, we've got to fix what we did wrong and go out and try and win our next one because that's the biggest one now. Thankful this is not the last game of the season. We'd truly be sick to our stomachs, very sick to our stomachs. We've got a lot to improve.”
Luck doesn’t typically say something like this. And some would say it’s bad timing to do it then, after a big loss.
But the reality is this season isn’t about media buzz anymore. Not now. The spotlight for Sunday Night Football was turned on for this game, Colts weaknesses were exposed for all the NFL world to see, then it was turned off and a lot of people left town.
What remains was to be expected. Athletes look at situations differently, especially after getting their butts kicked. How can we do better? What needs to improve? And perhaps more importantly, can we fix our problems? Keep in mind the athlete’s mentality. If you’ve got another game, the season isn’t finished yet and it’s a professional’s job to continue to work hard and strive for perfection.
That means the Colts will continue to believe they’ve got a shot to prove they’re a legitimate title contender, even when most of us have written them off.
Luck couldn’t be more astute. It doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is what they do, from this moment forward, to try to bounce back from such an ugly loss.
The Colts (6-4) are unsettled at the moment with so much to prove. The mind-set is to win the next game at home against lowly Jacksonville (1-9) and go from there.
The rest of the schedule is Washington (3-7), at Cleveland (6-4), Houston (5-5), at Dallas (7-3) and at Tennessee (2-8). If the Colts can get on a win streak in these last six games — and I’m guessing they’ll be favored in five of them — they can enter the playoffs with confidence and, ideally, be playing their best football at the most important time of the season.
Be playing your best come January. It’s not really that far away.
If there is a comment to take issue with after Sunday night’s game, it’s that the Colts need to move on as quickly as possible. Sorry, but I’m more inclined to agree with defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who told me in the locker room, “We need to remember this feeling.”
Yes, indeed, the Colts need to remember the humiliation of not being competitive against the AFC’s hottest team. They can’t forget what happened and why, and they need to channel that frustration into these final six games.
Finish the regular season strong, then give it everything they’ve got in January. The postseason probably won’t last long, be it one game or two, the latter presumably against Denver or New England on their field.
But enough talk. Perception is overrated, is it not?
I’s all about what the Colts do from this moment on to give themselves a fighting chance.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.