But even he couldn’t help but mention the words “disappointed” and “disappointing” seven times in his first two postgame answers after his Colts were thumped 45-7 by the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
"It's a really tough loss obviously,” he said outside the locker room. “We had high expectations coming in here and the fact the way the game went and everything, we're extremely disappointed.”
The Colts trailed 17-7 at halftime before the Patriots scored three third-quarter touchdowns to turn this one into a blowout.
“I’ve seen it with championship games, go that way through history,” Irsay said. “This one did, unfortunately. We're going to take it all in, we're disappointed, but also happy that we advanced to the final four, we got to the AFC Championship Game, we (won) two playoff games. The Denver win was incredible on the road. That's not to discount all of tonight, it's hard to feel the appreciation of that, but it's there when you take in the whole season. Starting 0-2, coming back from that, and again, we're really disappointed. We knew this was a measuring stick that we wanted to get over and we didn't, so it's disappointing.”
His players were visibly and verbally dejected and deflated. So, too, were Colts fans, who vented through social media throughout the rout, then long into the midnight hour.
"You know, what I say to the fans is this, we are close,” Irsay said. “Going to Denver and winning. When these games go the way they did and get out of hand on you like this game did, it feels so deflating, it feels like you're miles away, but you're not.
“We saw what Baltimore did when they came in here last week, they had two 14-point leads and had a chance to win it at the end of the game, (so) this game was a major disappointment obviously because it wasn't a close game and everyone, we could see that. We're really disappointed, but the message is that we have gotten better, we have advanced and we are going to get there with Andrew Luck in this era. It just didn't happen tonight, so that's disappointing.”
Luck had a career-worst 23 passer rating, completing just 12-of-33 passes for 126 yards with two interceptions. The offense could never get untracked.
The Patriots are indeed the AFC dynasty by which every other team measures itself. But the Colts have now lost at New England in back-to-back Januarys.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.