INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis allowed one postseason-clinching chance to slip away at Houston.
It doesnt intend to let the same thing happen again at Kansas City.
Its the playoffs. This is the playoffs, interim coach Bruce Arians said before Wednesdays practice began.
The Colts (9-5) are not looking back after making a historic turnaround.
Instead, theyre focused on their next task – beating the reeling Chiefs (2-12), who have barely averaged 10 points per game and were shut out in Oakland last weekend.
Theres a playoff spot at stake, so its win or go home, outside linebacker Robert Mathis said. We cant go out and lay an egg like we did last week.
Its a simple scenario for the Colts.
Indianapolis makes it in with a win over the Chiefs or in the season finale against Houston (12-2) or if the Steelers (7-7) lose one of their two remaining games – Sunday at Cincinnati (8-6) or the final week against Cleveland (5-9).
But the Colts are chasing more than just a playoff spot.
A win would help them regain some momentum heading into January, allow Arians to tie the NFL record for victories after a midseason coaching change, make the Colts one of only four teams in league history to go from two or fewer wins one season to 10 or more the next, and, of course, take the pressure off coach Chuck Pagano if he returns to the locker room Monday as players, coaches and team officials are hoping.
Pagano has been on an indefinite leave after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Almost from the moment Pagano began chemotherapy treatments in late September, Arians and Indianapolis upper management targeted the Dec. 30 game as Paganos return. With that game fast approaching, Arians has said twice this week that nothing is certain yet.
Arians said he is eager to go back to working just one job, offensive coordinator.
Hopefully we can get this victory and secure our playoff spot and turn it back over to Chuck, he said.
Players cant wait, either.
It would be great, Im sure it would be emotional for a lot of people if it comes (next week), rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said. Hopefully, it will be soon. It will be great to have him back.
Pagano may not be the only one making a return in the next few days.
Starting safety Tom Zbikowski has missed the last three games with a knee injury. On Monday, Arians ruled him out for the Chiefs game. On Wednesday, Arians acknowledged the prognosis had improved and said Zbikowski was questionable. He did dress for practice Wednesday.
Yet there are plenty of other concerns, especially along the offensive line where starting center Samson Satele is out with an ankle injury and right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) and backup center A.Q. Shipley (right knee) are both questionable.