NFL Wire News

Colts not apologizing for ugly win over Browns

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INDIANAPOLIS — No apologies.

That’s how Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano felt after Sunday’s 25-24 AFC road win at Cleveland.

“Our number one goal was to win the game and get win number nine. We achieved that goal. (But) I’m never going to sit here and apologize for winning.

“We played a damned good football team. They played extremely well. It’s obvious that we have some things to clean up. You have things to clean up in every ball game and we will address those.”

Pagano’s plan now is to give his players a couple of days rest and then start preparing for this week’s AFC South home game with Houston.

But before practices resume on Wednesday, the Colts coaching staff will take a long look at the tape of the Browns game and see what changes need to be made.

“Good football teams find a way to win game no matter what happens. And that is a good football team in (the Indianapolis) locker room. We made a ton of mistakes and we credit Cleveland,” Pagano explained.

“It was extremely difficult for us. Again, it goes back to how good football teams find a way to win. With 60 minutes, one play at a time, that’s all you’ve got. Don’t judge and just forget the past, good or bad.”

As for the Texans coming to town this week, the game is critical for several reasons. An Indianapolis victory will clinch the AFC South crown for the second straight year.

A Houston win, though, would tighten up the division race considerably.

“We know the implications,” Pagano said.

The Colts have won the AFC South title eight times since the division’s inception in 2002.

–While the Colts had several dropped passes over the course of the Cleveland game, quarterback Andrew Luck is not about to point fingers.

Luck fumbled once, which was recovered for a touchdown, and had a pair of passes intercepted.

“If anything is frustrating, it’s my bonehead mistakes,” Luck said. “It’s the nature of the team, the way Coach Pagano coaches. You just play football. Whatever happened on the last play, good or bad, you move on. I think, by and large, our guys do that.”

–Pagano was asked about the Colts continuing injury issues along the offensive line. His answer was a simple one: Next Man Up.

“We ask everybody to prepare as a starter. When guys like (center) A.Q. Shipley or (center/guard) Khaled Holmes get opportunities, they come in and play well,” Pagano said.

“That’s a testament to their character. To do the right things when your number is called, circumstances happen and you go in and play well. That’s what real teammates do.”

Notes: Center Jonnothan Harrison (burner/neck) left the Cleveland game in the second quarter and did not return. Shipley replaced Harrison at center and played well and will start if necessary. . . . Guard Joe Reitz (ankle) was injured in the second-half and did not return. He underwent X-rays during the game. His status remains undecided. . . . Cornerback

Vontae Davis (concussion) is still undergoing the league’s concussion protocols.

REPORT CARD VS. THE BROWNS:

–PASSING OFFENSE: B — QB Andrew Luck had his worst passer rating of the season, earning a 59.8 after the Cleveland game. That ranks as one of his worst passer ratings of his NFL career. So much for the bad news. The good news is that Luck completed 24-of-53 passes for 294 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner to WR T.Y. Hilton with 0:32 remaining in the game. He was sacked three times, intercepted twice and fumbled once. Hilton caught 10 passes for 150 yards and a pair of TDs. All of Hilton’s catches came in the second half. TE Coby Fleener added five catches for 56 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus — Luck was the Colts’ leading rusher with 37 yards on five carries, including a 13-yard run for a first down. RB Trent Richardson added 30 yards on seven carries while RB Daniel “Boom” Herron chipped in with 26 yards on eight rushing attempts. But it was Herron’s 2-yard run for a first down on 4th-and-1 at the Cleveland 3-yard line that stood out on Sunday. With less than a minute remaining, Herron was initially stopped on the play but spun out of a tackle and bounced outside to move the chains.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. The Indianapolis defense limited Browns QB Brian Hoyer to 14-of-31 passes for 140 yards. Hoyer was intercepted twice and was sacked once. Hoyer had a 31.7 passer rating for the game. TE Jordan Cameron had four receptions for 41 yards.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B — RB Isaiah Crowell and RB Terrence West each rushed for 54 yards, Crowell in 14 carries and West had 15 rushing attempts. As a team, the Browns had 111 rushing yards on 31 carries. Cleveland averaged 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus. PK Adam Vinatieri connected on both of his field goal attempts, hitting from 51 and 33 yards out. P Pat McAfee averaged 37.7 yards net and 47.0 yards overall on seven punts. Two of his punts were downed inside the Cleveland 20-yard line. Former Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs was trying a little too hard in his return to Cleveland, averaging just 1.3 yards on three punt returns. Cribbs did average 28.2 yards on two kickoff returns.

–COACHING: B. Things looked bleak early on. But the Colts continue to find a way to win in close games. The players credit the leadership of the team’s coaching staff, most notably head coach Chuck Pagano. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky did a nice job without CB Vontae Davis in the lineup. Manusky kept the pressure on Clevceland QB Brian Hoyer all afternoon. And while the offense was sputtering in the first half, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was able to get things going late in the game.


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