FORT WAYNE – We have to take this show on the road.
– Antoine Bethea
So, do it then.
Pack the suitcases. Pack that Lucas Oil Stadium confidence in ice (the better to preserve it). And, finally, find a way to wedge two apparently conflicting ideas in the overhead bin of your psyche: Winning on the road is hard, but it’s also simple.
You’ve got to finish the game when you’re on the road, is how Colts coach Bruce Arians puts it.
It’s a well-duh notion that’s invites a not-so-well-duh question: How do you that?
Darned if the Colts know, so far. In two road games, they’ve gone back to Indianapolis in a crate marked Some Assembly Required, having been outscored 76-30 in two losses.
Their young quarterback, Andrew Luck, has thrown five of his seven interceptions in those two losses. The Colts as a team have committed nine turnovers.
And so, on to Tennessee, and another crack at this hard/simple task.
We’ve got to do more than our job, Arians says. Doing your job doesn’t win on the road. If both teams do their job, the home team wins. That’s just the nature of the beast. (So) we’ve got to do more than our job.
Which means you create turnovers and avoid making turnovers yourselves. Which means you light it up on special teams. Which means you take what has worked at home and make it work outside the protective bubble of The Luke.
We’ve got to find a way to substitute the energy we get from our home crowd, figure out how to get that same energy from an away crowd, or how to create that, Luck says, somewhat vaguely. Realize it’s a football field, same amount of players on the side of the ball, same plays.
Veteran teams not only realize that, but make that realization work for them. Young teams have to learn how to do that.
That’s why it wasn’t really a fair fight on opening weekend in Chicago, whose defense is making macramé out of the entire league. Nor was it, really, in New York, against a foundering Jets team that instinctively sensed it could find its way out of Quarterback Hell by picking on the Colts.
And so, 41-21 in Chicago; 35-9 in New York. And on to Tennessee.
I think we are growing as a team, safety Tom Zbikowski said. We are getting better as a team, just with trust, personalities meshing, just a feel for everything. I think that should bode well for us – but still we have to be able to perform on the field come game day.
Done and done in Lucas Oil, where the Colts are 3-1 and have beaten, among others, the formidable Green Bay Packers. Still remaining to be done on the road.
You’ve got to learn how to win on the road by finishing it and making plays, not just doing your job, Arians reiterates. It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard. Especially when you’re going against two premier defenses like we have.
This one is another challenge, but it’s not as difficult, I don’t think, because we’ve been there now. We’ve got experience at it. We should be better at it.
Simple as that.