Luck admits he might be naive, but that’s where his head is at.
The Colts (10-4) clinched the AFC South Division title last Sunday and are assured of at least a third or fourth AFC seed for the postseason. The reality is this game against the Cowboys (10-4) is unlikely to impact the Colts’ playoff position because the New England Patriots (11-3) and Denver Broncos (11-3) have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage on Luck’s team. They would have to lose twice and the Colts win twice for Indy to jump into one of the top two seeds and earn a first-round playoff bye.
But players are creatures of habit. They stick to one of the oldest cliches with a “one at a time” approach. When 12th-year defensive end Cory Redding was asked Wednesday about possibly getting some rest for his aching body, he quickly dismissed the suggestion. He doesn’t want to watch others play in his place.
If the Colts are going to get the desired result from Sunday, Luck concedes his team needs to be better at the start. That’s been an obvious problem of late. The Colts have committed 12 turnovers in the last four games, six of them in the opening quarter. Opponents have scored defensive touchdowns in the first quarter of each of the last two games.
“We know, especially on the road, a good start can help,” Luck said Wednesday.
Beginning with a 51-34 loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 25, the Colts have been outscored 34-19 in the first quarter of the past seven games.
That’s particularly puzzling considering the Colts outpointed opponents 61-6 in the opening quarter of the season’s first seven games.
“We’ve been somewhat like the Rocky Balboa of the NFL offense,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Thursday in a transcript distributed by the team. “It’s a couple punches in the face, but unfortunately we’ve been thumbing ourselves in the eye, but we bounce back and more importantly we find ways to win games.”
True, the Colts have prevailed more often than not. The offense inevitably scores. It’s third in the NFL in points scored at 30.3 per game.
“We play our best ball in the second half,” Hamilton said. “(But) we have to play better early in games and we have to start faster.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.