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Ben Smith

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Associated Press
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck has led the Colts to a 6-4 mark in his first season in the NFL.

Colts know how to respond

It’s been down the memory hole for a solid week now, and good riddance to bad rubbish. Patriots 59, Colts 24? A 35-7 rump-roasting in the second half? Julian Edelman taking a punt to the house, and then a pick six, and then another pick six?

Crumple it up, bank it off the side of your desk, into the wastebasket it goes. Two points. Gone. Forgotten.

“On to the next one,” Andrew Luck said back on Monday, all but brushing 59-24 off his hands in pantomime.

“We’ll keep on swinging,” Colts coach Bruce Arians promised, also on Monday.

And you, Dwayne Allen?

“There’s nothing to hang our heads low about,” the Colts’ tight end said. “Did we perform at our highest level? No, we didn’t. And we know that.

“Of course, we lost by 35 points or whatever it was but we didn’t give them our best shot. They did a great job of capitalizing on our mistakes and we need to eliminate those mistakes and next time play as best as we can.”

Which is the trick to all this, of course, and it’s some trick. You want to flush 59-24 down the memory hole, but not right away. First you have to, yes, eliminate the mistakes that made it happen, and to do that you have to take what lessons you can from it. Which means you want to remember it before you forget it, or maybe even at the same time.

Confused?

Don’t be. None of the Colts are.

They have gotten to 6-4, after all, because they’ve mastered the remember/forget conundrum, something even veteran teams struggle with. So far this season, every loss has been followed with a win. Every “L” has been ground up and used for fuel.

And thus a 41-21 loss in Chicago was followed by a 23-20 win over Minnesota.

And a 22-17 home loss to Jacksonville was followed by a 30-27 win over Green Bay.

And a 35-9 lamination from the Jets in New York was followed by one, two, three, four wins in succession.

“Throughout the year, we’ve bounced back,” acknowledged safety Tom Zbikowski. “Every loss we’ve had, we’ve bounced back from pretty well.”

“This team that we have is resilient, and we’re going to fight back,” agrees rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

And now they get to carry that fight at home against the Buffalo Bills, who, if form holds, will absorb the business end of the Colts’ ongoing education. After that comes the Lions. And then the Titans. And then the Texans, the Chiefs and the Texans, every week providing a little more data for the mainframe.

“That’s the process this young team is going to go through each time they step into a bigger arena: They have to learn something,” Arians says. “We definitely learned something in this ball game.

“First of all, we learned that we can compete, and that was the biggest thing. Once we learn how to protect the football better and get off the field on third down defensively, I think the sky is the limit for our ball club.”

But only if they take what they can take from 59-24, and then crumple it up, bank it off the desk, make it gone.

“I don’t think guys will let it linger. I think guys will learn,” Luck said last week. “You’re going to watch the film. You’re going to realize, OK, where did the wheels come off and why? And make sure we don’t do that again.

“We’ll take the lessons and move on.”

What else is there?

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.

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