Are The Colts Catching Their Stride?

With their backs to the wall a couple of weeks ago, the Indianapolis Colts now have the look of a team on the verge of turning its season around. The Colts got off to a shaky 3-4 start, but back-to-back wins over New England and Pittsburgh (24-20) have Tony Dungy's squad back in serious contention for a possible AFC wild-card playoff spot.

While Indianapolis hasn't been mathematically eliminated from the AFC South divisional hunt, the Tennessee Titans — now with a 9-0 record — will be tough to catch over the remainder of the regular-season schedule.

With a 5-4 record, the Colts will return to Lucas Oil Stadium this week to face divisional rival Houston before going back on the road to play at San Diego and Cleveland.

Dungy will allow Indianapolis to bask in the franchise's first win at Pittsburgh since Sept. 9, 1968 (41-7 at old Pitt Stadium) for a couple of days. But the focus will return to the Texans and the task at hand on Wednesday.

"We fought. Didn't play perfect (against the Steelers), but we made enough things happen and faith in each other was the big thing (in the win)," the Colts coach said.

Dungy said that the victory over Pittsburgh may have been Indianapolis' best overall effort of the season thus far.

"I thought so. You're playing a quality opponent. You get down (17-7) by 10. It's tough to come back (at Heinz Field). And hanging in there, not letting things bother us. But hanging in there against a good opponent, it probably was (the biggest win of the year)," he said.

"Just these last three weeks, playing against these top teams, our team knows where we are."

Dungy, though, is stressing the importance of winning this week against the Texans. Indianapolis rallied for a 31-27 win at Houston on Oct. 5, so he knows the road to the postseason doesn't get any easier.

"Houston was playing very well (in its loss to Baltimore). They were in that game. Just a couple of turnovers, kind of similar to the way that they played against us, and all of a sudden they're out of the game. But it's going to be tough," the Colts coach said.

"(Wide receiver) Andre Johnson's playing great. It's going to be (the Texans') last stand, so we've got to be ready to defend our home turf and see if we can get on a three-game winning streak."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told our team (after the win over Pittsburgh) that three weeks in a row we've played the division leaders in the AFC. We're in Tennessee in the fourth quarter and we really felt like (had) we played a little sharper, we can win that game. We beat the (AFC) East leaders (New England) and now we've beat the (AFC) North leaders. What it tells us is we can play with anybody. We've got to get sharp enough where we get a streak together and we get ourselves in (the AFC wild-card hunt). If we do, we're going to be in good shape." — Colts coach Tony Dungy, after the team's win at Pittsburgh.

UNDER THE RADAR: CB Keiwan Ratliff continues to impress. Ratliff, formerly a second-round draft choice by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004, was cut twice by the Colts twice earlier this season and then brought back. Over the last two weeks, Ratliff has recorded 14 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and a pass deflected as he has filled in for injured starter Kelvin Hayden.

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