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Pagano tries to keep first win in perspective

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INDIANAPOLIS — One day after the Indianapolis Colts registered their first win of the season, a wild 35-33 come-from-behind AFC South road victory over Tennessee, head coach Chuck Pagano tried to move the conversation forward to this week’s home game with division rival Jacksonville.

Pagano’s reasoning is simple. While he appreciated the win and the overall performance down the stretch in the fourth quarter, he doesn’t want his team to get sidetracked by that result.

“If you handle success like you handle adversity, (the Tennessee) game can be a big springboard,” the Colts coach stressed Monday.

And that’s the goal. While Indianapolis continues to have issues with turnovers (two interceptions by quarterback Andrew Luck) and penalties (11 for 75 yards), Pagano’s crew found a way – somehow – to get back in the game – and win — after trailing by 13 points.

“This (win) is one for the ages as far as I am concerned,” Pagano said. “Hopefully we will enjoy it for the little time we will get to enjoy it. The 24-hour rule will be in effect and then on to Jacksonville.

“We have been talking about process since day one. You can go all the way back to January whatever, whenever I was hired back in 2012. We’ve been talking about process every day. Pound it, pound it. Sixty minutes, one play at a time, give all you’ve got. But don’t judge. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Never too high, never too low. You ride the ebb and the flow. You’ve just got to play. You just have to keep playing, playing and playing.”

Pagano tried to downplay the notion that the team was playing for its season Sunday against Tennessee.

“I think everybody outside of our locker room, other than our players and coaches, maybe. But not one person on our sideline, not one person in our organization (thought that),” Pagano said.

Still, quarterback Andrew Luck understood what the victory meant.

“We did not want to lose,” he said, understating the case. “I don’t even want to think about a loss, so I’m not going to. This one was big, very big. That’s a very good Tennessee team. It’s a good division win on the road. If this can jump start a little hot streak, then that’s what we need.”

Pagano knows that there are still issues to contend with. The Colts are far from being a finished product in his eyes.

“We’re a work in progress. We’re grateful that we got a win and we got on the board,” he said. “Hopefully now we can go back and go to work and fix what we need to fix and get better (this) week.”

REPORT CARD VS. TITANS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B. QB Andrew Luck did a much better job against the blitz than he had done in the team’s first two games. Luck completed 10-of-17 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and had one interception in 20 total dropbacks against the blitz. He was pressured 59 percent of the game through the first three quarters and on just two of his fourth-quarter pass attempts. Luck completed 18-of-30 passes for 260 yards and two TDs in the game while being intercepted twice. He was sacked three times. Rookie WR Phillip Dorsett and second-year WR Donte Moncrief each had touchdown receptions. WR T.Y. Hilton had a 48-yard reception early in the game. TE Coby Fleener had four receptions for 51 yards. WR Andre Johnson did not catch a pass in the game.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus. RB Frank Gore looked the part of a franchise running back in the win over the Titans. Gore rushed for a game-high 86 yards in 14 carries and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. He had several big runs, especially late in the game. His 6-yard TD run with just under three minutes left in the game gave the Colts some much needed breathing room. As a team, Indianapolis rushed for 133 yards in 23 carries (5.8).

–PASS DEFENSE: C-minus. Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota wasn’t pressured much until late in the game. He completed 27-of-44 passes for 367 yards, two touchdowns and had two passes intercepted by S Dwight Lowery. Mariota wound up being sacked three times, including once by OLB Robert Mathis. ILB Jerrell Freeman and rookie NT David Parry had the other two. WR Kendall Wright had seven receptions for 95 yards and a TD.

–RUN DEFENSE: B-plus. The Colts continue to show promise against the run. A pair of rookie defensive linemen, DT Henry Anderson and Parry, have been impressive ever since they won starting jobs at the end of training camp. DE Kendall Langford has also played well against the run so far this season. Tennessee rushed for 88 yards as a team and was limited to just 3.3 yards per carry. RB Antonio Andrews ran for a team-high 49 yards in 12 carries. The Colts also made the play of the game by stacking up a two-point conversion run near the end of the fourth quarter.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus. K Adam Vinatieri did not have a field-goal attempt, but was successful on all of his extra-point attempts. P Pat McAfee had five punts for a 49.8 yard average and a 50-yard overall average. He had one punt downed inside the Titans’ 20-yard line. McAfee also showed his speed as he ran a fake punt 18 yards to get the Colts a big first down. He added six touchbacks on kickoffs. PR Griff Whalen had four fair catches. Tennessee PR Dexter McCluster averaged minus-1 on three returns. The Titans did not have a kickoff return.

–COACHING: B-plus. Despite an 0-2 start and rumors surrounding his relationship with general manager Ryan Grigson, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano deserves a tip of the cap for not allowing his team to get down. Especially after Indianapolis got off to a strong start at the beginning of the Tennessee game and then fell behind by 13 points in the third quarter. There’s still much work to do by the Colts’ coaching staff in order to get all of the team’s on-field issues handled. But things look a bit better Monday than they did after the home-field loss to the Jets.


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