Before the Mayflower: The NFL arrived in Indiana, after the Mayflower moving vans snuck the Colts out of Baltimore. However, the NFL had been in the Hoosier state more than 60 years earlier with the Hammond Pros were an original NFL team that had several African Americans playing key roles on the team.
1984: While Baltimore was angry over the Colts midnight move, fans in Indianapolis were there to great the arriving Mayflower trucks with cheers. The Colts would sell 143,000 season tickets in just the first two weeks of ticket sales. On September 2nd the Colts played their first game at the Hoosier Dome against the New York Jets. However, Colts fans would go home disappointed as the Jets won 23-14. Losing would be a habit for the Colts in their first season in Indianapolis, as Frank Kush was fired before the final game of the season as the Colts sat at 4-11. The Colts would lose their final game of the season with Hal Hunter performing the coaching duties to finish with a disappointing 4-12 record.
1985: Under new Coach Rod Dowhower, the Colts continued to struggle losing 11 of their first 14 games. However the Colts would end the season on a strong note winning their final two games to finish with a 5-11 record. The lone bright spot of the season was Linebacker Duane Bickett, who won the Defensive Rookie of the year after being the Colts first Round pick in the draft.
1986: The Colts season as over before it ever started as they lost their first 13 games of the season. Making matters worse was that only two of the losses were by less then a Touchdown. After their 13th loss Coach Rod Dowhower was fired and replaced by Ron Meyer. The move would work as the Colts won the last three games of the season under Meyer.
1987: The Colts get off to a 0-2 start before the players went on strike. During the replacement games the Colts scabs played well, winning two of their three games. When the regulars returned the Colts improved to 3-3 with a win over the New England Patriots. Prior to playing their next game the atmosphere surrounding the Colts changed dramatically, when they acquired star Running Back Eric Dickerson in a three team deal on Halloween. Playing without Dickerson the next day the Colts improved to 4-3 with a win in New York over the Jets. In just eight games with Colts Dickerson rushes for 1,011 yards as the Colts go 5-3 to win the Division with a 9-6 record. However, in the Divisional Round the Colts were defeated by the Browns 38-21 in Cleveland.
1988: The Colts stumble out of the gate losing five of their first six games. However, the Colts would rebound to win their next five games, including the first Monday Night Game at the Hoosier Dome on Halloween, in which Eric Dickerson show cased his talents in a 55-23 mauling of the Denver Broncos. The Colts would go on to finish with a 9-7 record, as Eric Dickerson won the rushing title with 1,659 yards rushing. However, the Colts would miss out on the playoffs by one game.
1989: Eric Dickerson has another stellar season rushing for 1,311 yards, while surpassing the 10,000-yard mark in his career. However, the Colts only play mediocre football, and sit at 8-7 needing to win the final game of the season to make the postseason. Unfortunately, the Colts were never even in the game losing 41-6 to the Saints in New Orleans.
1990: The Colts do some draft day wheeling and dealing trading Wide Receiver Andre Rison and draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons so they could move up and draft Indianapolis native Jeff George, with the number one overall pick. George would have a stellar rookie season passing for 2,152 yards while throwing 16 Touchdown passes. However, things were not as sunny for Running Back Eric Dickerson who held out of training camp, during a contract dispute. The Colts would end up suspending Dickerson four games for conduct detrimental to the team. He would return late in the season and rush for 677 yards, as the Colts finished with a 7-9 record.
1991: The Colts would get off to a miserable start losing their first five games before Coach Ron Meyer was fired and replaced by Rick Venturi. Under Venturi the Colts struggle would continue as they lost their first four under their new coach. The Colts would finally get their first win of the season on a cold and rainy afternoon in the Meadowlands, as the Beat the New York Jets by 28-27. That win would go on to be the Colts only win of the season finishing with an awful 1-15 record, as Eric Dickerson rushed for only 535 yards as the Colts scored an embarrassing 143 points on the season.
1992: To try and bring some glory back to the team the Colts hire Ted Marchibroda, who coached the team to three straight Division Titles in the late 70’s, while in Baltimore. The Colts had two first-round draft picks and chose Steve Entman and Quentin Coryatt. On the same day of the draft they traded away Running Back Eric Dickerson ending a sometimes stormy relationship, with their star Ru. Before the season even started the Colts were rocked by tragedy when Defensive End Shane Curry was shot to death outside a Cincinnati nightclub in a dispute over a car blocking the nightclub’s driveway. After the chaotic off-season the Colts got off on the right foot beating the Cleveland Browns in the season opener at the Hoosier Dome. However in a puzzling move cut Quarterback Mark Hermann who led the team in the win. With Jeff George back under center the Colts would win just three of their next ten games. However the team would end the season on a strong not winning their final five games narrowly missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
1993: The Colts struggled all year from the lack of a running game, and a passing game, going at one point 20 quarters without a touchdown. The defense was not much better, as the Colts went 4-12 amid dwindling crowds. They ended the year with a four game losing streak, and had eight losses in their last nine games.
1994: The Colts shake up their entire team trading Quarterback Jeff George to the Atlanta Falcons, and drafting Running Back Marshall Faulk in the first round of the NFL Draft. Faulk would have an impressive season first season winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 1,804 All-Purpose Yards. The Colts would play only mediocre football most of the season before winning three of their last four games to finish with an 8-8 record.
1995: After a 1-2 start Jim Harbaugh earns back the starting Quarterback jobs and leads the Colts on wild ride that would see them finish 9-7 and qualify for the playoffs. In Harbaugh’s first three games at Quarterback he led the Colts to comeback wins in each of his first three starts earning him the nickname “Captain Comeback”, and the team the “Cardiac Colts.” Many of the Colts wins were close hard fought games that the gutsy Colts just pulled out by the strength of their wills. In the playoffs they were going to need allot more then wills, playing in the Wild Card round without Running Back Marshall Faulk. However, the Colts did not skip a beat and stunned the Chargers in San Diego 35-20. A week later in Kansas City, the Colts were expected to go down again, but thanks to five missed Field Goalss from Chiefs Kicker Lynn Elliot, the Colts pulled out a 10-7 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs were underdogs again facing the Steelers with a trip to Super Bowl XXX on the line. The Colts would hang tough all game long but trailed 20-16, needing a miracle on the final play to win the game. From midfield Harbaugh would fire it up to the endzone and the ball bounced around in and out of the arms of Wide Receiver Aaron Bailey’s arms ending the Colts season.
1996: Following the Colts improbable playoff run, the team only offered Coach Ted Marchibroda a one year contract. The popular Marchibroda would turn it down and take the coaching job with the new Baltimore Ravens. The Colts would name Lindy Infante to replace him hoping he could get them back to the postseason. Under Infante the Colts got off to a fast start winning their first four games, including a 25-24 upset of the Cowboys in Dallas. However, the Colts would suffer a devastating string of injuries and would limp into the playoffs as the Sixth seed with a 9-7 record. However, this time there was no postseason magic as their season ended in Pittsburgh with a 42-14 loss in the first round to the Steelers.
1997: Prior to the season Owner Robert Irsay passed away, leaving his son Jim to run the franchise. After two straight postseason appearances the Colts came crashing down to reality losing their first ten games, in an injury plagued season. Indicative of the team’s frustrating year was a hand injury Quarterback Jim Harbaugh suffered during a confrontation with former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly, who was working as an analyst on NBC. The Colts would end up closing the season out with a 3-13 record, as Coach Lindy Infante was fired, and the front office was shaken up. The Colts would bring in Bill Polian to run the football operations, and Jim Mora to coach the team.
1998: Finishing with a 3-13 record enabled the Colts to draft Quarterback Peyton Manning with the first overall draft pick. The Colts would institute Manning as their starter right away, as he had an impressive rookie season passing for 3,739 yards. However, despite the stellar numbers from Manning the Colts struggled to their second straight 3-13 season.
1999: The Colts would make a change at Running Back trading Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams, and drafting Edgerrin James in the first round. The Colts offense would click right away with James who earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 2,159 All-Purpose Yards, and 17 Touchdowns. In addition Peyton Manning racked up 4,135 passing yards as the Colts won the AFC East with an impressive 13-3 record. In the Divisional Playoffs the Colts hosted the Tennessee Titans in the first ever playoff game at the RCA Dome. However, the young Colts struggled in their first playoff game and were shutout in the second half on the way to a heartbreaking 19-16 loss.
2000: The Colts offense had impressive moments, sprinting through defenders with a no-huddle attack that left their opponents little time to catch their breath, as Peyton Manning passed for 4,413 yards, and Edgerrin James collected 2,303 All-Purpose Yards. However the Colts defense was erratic, performing well, at time but more often gave up yards at crucial moments. Eight games into the season the Colts were 6-2, though some of the wins had been heart-stoppers with last-minute heroics overcoming earlier mistakes. Then they lost four of the next five games, and suddenly even making it into playoffs was in doubt. With three games left in the season the Colts only chance was to win all three, which they did to finish with a 10-6 record. In the Wild Card round at Miami the Colts led the Dolphins by 14 in the 3rd Quarter. However, the Dolphins would comeback and force overtime where they stunned the Dolphins on a Lamar Smith Touchdown run to pull out a 23-17 win, keeping Coach Jim Mora winless in the playoffs.
2001: The Colts would get off to a 2-0 start, but problems quickly arose, as the Defensive struggles continued during a three game losing streak. The Colts losing streak would end with a win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. However, the win would prove costly as Edgerrin James suffered a season ending knee injury. Without James the Colts would win only three of their final nine games as team were able to score at will at the porous Colts defense, which ranked at the bottom in yards, and points allowed. Peyton Manning had another strong season passing for 4,131 yards. However he struggled with interceptions leading to harsh public criticism form Coach Jim Mora. The Colts would go on to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record. Following the season Mora would be fired after refusing to fire his defensive assistants. The Colts would go on to name defensive minded Tony Dungy as their new Head Coach, hoping with a stellar offense already intact he could make the Colts a complete team.
2002: The Tony Dungy era in Indianapolis would get off to a solid start as the Colts won three of their first four games. The Colts would then lose three straight games and stood at the halfway with a mediocre 4-4 record. However they would quickly rebound with a four game winning streak that included a dramatic primetime win in on the road in the snow against the Denver Broncos with Kicker Mike Vanderjagt hitting a 54-yard Field Goal with time winding down in regulation and a 51-yarders in overtime as the Colts beat the Broncos 23-20. The Colts would end up splitting their final four games to finish secpnd place in the newly created AFC South, with a solid record of 10-6, which was good enough for a Wild Card berth. Along the way Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison set a NFL single season record with 143 receptions for 1,722 yards. However, the Colts playoffs appearance would be short and forgettable as they were mauled on the road by the New York Jets 41-0.
2003: After their horrific thud in the playoffs the experts doubted the big game ability of Colts QB Peyton Manning. Despite playing shaky football in their first game the Colts began the season with a 9-6 road win over the Cleveland Browns, as they won their first four games. Week 5 would be an emotional home coming for Coach Tony Dungy as the Colts faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday Night Road Game. It was not going well for Dungy’s against his former team as the Colts trailed with 5 minutes left 35-14. However the Colts would not give up as Manning led three quick Touchdown drives to tie the game and force overtime where Mike Vanderjagt gave the Colts a dramatic 38-35 win over the defending Super Bowl Champions. A week later the Colts would stumble at home blowing a 4th Quarter lead in an overtime 23-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers. After winning four of their next five games the Colts found themselves in a match up of AFC elite against the New England Patriots at home. Trailing 17-0 early the Colts fought all game to tie the game at 31 early in the 4th Quarter. However the Pats answered back right away after being set up on a long kick off return. The Colts would cut the lead to 38-34, and had the ball first goal in the final minute. However, after four attempts the Colts could not get in as they dropped their third game of the season. After their heartbreaking loss to the Pats the Colts bounced back nicely beating the Tennessee Titans 29-27 to capture a stranglehold on first place in the AFC South. The Colts would go on to win two of their last three games to finish the season with a solid 12-4 record, as Peyton Manning with 4,267 yards passing was named NFL Co-MVP with Titans Quarterback Steve McNair. In the playoffs the Colts and Peyton Manning erased the perception they could not win a big game in convincing fashion as Manning passed for 377 yards and five Touchdowns in a dominating 41-10 win over the Denver Broncos which was the first home playoff win for the Colts since moving to Indianapolis. In the Divisional Round the Colts would hit the road facing the Kansas City Chiefs. Once again NFL MVP Peyton Manning was at the top of his game with 304 yards passing at three Touchdowns as the Colts out gunned the Chiefs 38-31 in a shootout in which for the second week in a row Punter Hunter Smith did not make a single punt. The win sent the Colts on to the AFC Championship game where they faced the New England Patriots. However the Colts magical run would come to an end on a cold snowy day in Foxboro as the Pats defense frustrated Manning all day intercepting the MVP four times on the way to a 24-14 win to advance to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
2004: The Colts began the season in the same place where their previous season ended, Foxboro with a Thursday Night kickoff against the New England Patriots. Once again the Pats would frustrate Manning as the Colts lost 27-24, as a game tying drive was short-circuited by a sack as Mike Vanderjagt’s attempt of a game tying Field Goal went wide. However, there would not be much frustration the rest of the way for Manning and the Colts as he embarked on a record season passing for 49 Touchdowns breaking Dan Marino’s 20-year old record as the Colts galloped to a second straight division title with a solid 12-4 record, as each week it seemed a different receiver would benefit from the dazzling play of Peyton Manning who would earn him second straight NFL MVP award. After ending the regular season a meaningless loss to the Denver Broncos in the final game of the regular season with Manning and the rest of the regular sitting, the Colts faced the Broncos in the playoffs and it was a different story as the Colts behind the arm of Manning jumped out to a 35-3 halftime lead on the way to beating the Broncos 49-24 as Manning had four Touchdown passes and 457 yards passing, to earn a rematch with the Patriots in Foxboro. As the Divisional Playoff in Foxboro began the snow began to fall and it was if a harbinger of things to come as the Colts never left the starting gate as the Pats playing with a banged up secondary frustrated Peyton Manning again, not allowing the Colts to reach the endzone in a dominating 20-3 victory.
2005: Coming off a historic 49-Touchdown season Peyton Manning was hard pressed to come any where close to matching those numbers, and he would not come close, as he managed 28, but the story was not Peyton and his reduced Touchdowns it was the Colts improved defense who were actually behind the Colts strong early start as were kept under 14 points in two of their first three games but managed to start 3-0 as their defense only allowed 16 total points. Of course the Colts offense was too good to be kept down long and soon they were explosive again as the team started rolling up the wins along the way Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison would be come the top QB-WR connection in NFL history as they broke the old record of 86 held by Steve Young and Jerry Rice. After starting 7-0 the Colts started November in their house of horrors in Foxboro against the New England Patriots for a Monday Night Showdown. The showdown would never materialize as the Colts exercised their demons in one swift statement game beating the two-time defending champions 40-21 as Manning passed for 321 yards with three Touchdown passes, as the 8-0 Colts became the talk of the league. After an easy win over the Houston Texans the Colts won a shootout with the Cincinnati Bengals to improve to 10-0 as Manning had another three Touchdown game with 365 yards passing. The Colts would improve to 11-0 win another marvelous Monday Night performance beating the Pittsburgh Steelers easily 26-7, as talk began about an undefeated season. The Colts would stay unbeaten for the next two weeks beating the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars to sit at 13-0 when they faced the San Diego Chargers on December 18th. Manning would pass for 336 yards but the running game was stuck in neutral as the Chargers got off to a 16-0 lead in the 3rd Quarter. However, the Colts would comeback in quick fashion taking a 17-16 lead as the 4th Quarter began. This time it would not last as the Chargers answered back in the final 15 minutes putting the game away on an 83-yard Touchdwon run by Michael Turner for a 26-17 win. A few days later the Colts would shaken personally as Coach Tony Dungy’s son committed suicide. With homefield locked up and Dungy away with his family an anticipated match up with the Seattle Seahawks turned into a preseason game as Manning only played a few plays to keep his games played streak alive as the Colts lost again 28-13. Dungy would return for the regular season finale but the Colts treated it like a preseason game again as they barely beat the Arizona Cardinals at home 17-13 to finish with an Indianapolis best 14-2 record. Being 13-0 was great for headline and getting players rested for the playoffs, but after a bye week in the first round of the playoffs it had been nearly a month since the Colts played a game to win with their regulars playing all the way. The rust would show as the Colts fell behind the Pittsburgh Steelers early 14-0 after the 1st Quarter. The Colts seemed stuck in neutral all game as they trailed 21-3 as the 4th Quarter began. However, Peyton Manning would start the comeback hooking up with Dallas Clark on a 50-yard TD pass. Then it was Edgerrin James with a TD and Manning to Reggie Wayne on a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 21-18. However, with time winding down the Colts got trapped deep in their own territory. With just 1 time out the Colts were force to go for it on 4th Down and long under two minutes left, as Manning was sacked on his own two yard line. Just as it seemed hopelessly bleak, the Colts got a miracle reprieve when Jerome Bettis fumbled; the fumble was picked up by Nick Harper who was playing with stitches in his leg after a domestic violence incident with his wife the night before. Perhaps slowed a little Harper who seemed to be in open field was tripped up by Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Manning would quickly get the Colts into Field Goal range as he took two cracks at the endzone. However, Mike Vanderjagt’s game tying Field Goal attempt from 46 yards sailed wide right, a few days later the Colts kicker made light off the miss on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” weather it was to make him the scapegoat of tired of Vaderjagt’s act, the Colts signed Adam Vinatieri who nailed two Super Bowl winning field goals with the New England Patriots, and is well known as a kicker who excels in pressure situations.
2006: Coming off their heartbreaking loss, the Colts came running out of the gates fast again, winning their first nine games, becoming the first team in NFL history to start 9-0 two years in a row. After losing their first game just before Thanksgiving on the road to the Dallas Cowboys 21-14, the Colts rebounded for a primetime win over the Philadelphia Eagles, which marked a coming out party for Rookie Running Back Joseph Addai, as he rushed for 171 yards, and scored four touchdowns. However, in the coming weeks it was the Colts defense that felt run over as they lost three of their next four games. First came a stunning 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on 60-yard field goal by Rob Bironas. That was followed by a crushing 44-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Colts allowed 375 yards rushing. Following a 34-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals the Colts defense was stunned by another last second field goal losing to the Houston Texans 27-24 on a Kris Brown 48-yard Field Goal. The Colts would end the season with a 27-22 win over the Miami Dolphins, but at 12-4 the Colts still won the division title but had no momentum coming in to the playoffs, as they did not earn a first round bye. In the playoffs the Colts faced the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round, and many were predicting doom for the Colts against the Chiefs strong running game. However, helped by the return of Bob Sanders who missed most of the season, the Colts held Larry Johnson to 32 yards as they won 23-8, overcoming three interceptions by Peyton Manning, including one late in the 2nd Quarter that gave the Chiefs the ball on the Colts 9-yard line, but the Colts defense held firm, as Lawrence Tynes missed a 23-yard field goal. The following week, the Colts returned to Baltimore for a second round match with the Ravens. Manning would struggle again, as he was intercepted twice, but the Colts defense rose to the occasion allowing just two field goals, while the Adam Vinatieri signing paid off, as he nailed five field goals including three that were over 40 yards in a 15-6 win that sent the Colts back to Indianapolis for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. For most of the first half in the AFC title game it looked as if the Patriots were going to hammer the Colts again, as they held a 21-3 lead following a 39-yard Interception return by Asante Samuel. Vinatieri would answer back with a filed goal as the Colts went into halftime down 21-6. In the 3rd Quarter the Colts came alive storming back to tie the game on two touchdowns, including a two point conversion. However, the Pats would quickly retake the lead as the score was 28-21 heading into the 4th Quarter. The Colts would tie the game again, in the fourth quarter only to see the Patriots retake the lead. After both sides traded field goals Colts needed to rally again trailing 34-31 with 3:49 left. However, three incomplete passes left the Colts defense which struggled all day needing a stop just to keep the Colts hope alive, which they did giving Peyton Manning one last try down by three with 2:17 left and one time out. Starting at their own 20 the Colts quickly got into Patriots territory on two big pass plays to Reggie Wayne, as a an added roughing the passer penalty gave the Colts the ball at the Patriots 11 yard line at the two minute warning. Using Joseph Addai up the middle the Colts sliced through tiring Pats defense, taking a 38-34 lead with 1:02 left. However, Pats uarterback Tom Brady should no quit quickly getting his team into Colts territory, before Marlin Jackson clinched the win with a interception at the Colts 35 yard line, sending the Colts to their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis.
Super Bowl XLI: Facing the Chicago Bears in Miami the attention before the game was on the coaches as Tony Dungy faced protégé Lovie Smth, as the first two black coaches to appear in the Super Bowl. When the game began the Colts found themselves down before the smoke from the pre-game ceremonies settled, as the explosive Devin Hester returned the game’s opening kick 92-yards for a touchdown. The Colts would quickly answer back with a Touchdown of their own as Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 53-yard Touchdown pass. However, the shaky Colts could not tie the game as the PAT was botched in the rain. After both teams traded fumbles the Bears struck again taking a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, as the rain got heavier in Miami, the Colts settled in taking a 16-14 lead on a Touchdown by Dominick Rhodes following a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. As the rain continued to fall in the 3rd quarter Vinatieri added two more field goals to give the Colts a 22-14 lead, but the Bears continued to hang tough answering back with a field goal of their own. Finally in the fourth quarter the Colts ceased the game as Kelvin Hayden return an interception 56-yards down the sideline for a Touchdown to give the Colts a 29-14 lead. From their they relied on their defense to seal the victory for Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning who was named the game’s MVP with a steady 247 yards passing and one touchdown in bad playing conditions.
2007: Coming off their Super Bowl championship the Colts opened the season with a primetime banner raising at the RCA Dome, which preceded a raising of the roof as the Colts scored 31 unanswered points in the second half as they beat the New Orleans Saints 41-10. A week later it would be much tougher as the Colts held off a late charge from the Tennessee Titans to win 22-20, as the Colts once again got off to a 7-0 start despite losing Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison to a knee injury. At 7-0 the Colts hosted the 8-0 New England Patriots in a battle of unbeatens. As with the AFC Championship Game it was battle from the start, as the two teams that were regarded as the best two teams in the league put on a performance worthy of that label. However, this time it was the Colts that had a lead slip away as the Patriots scored 14 unanswered points in the final eight minutes to beat the Colts 24-20 on the way to completing an unbeaten regular season at 16-0. A week later in a primetime game against the San Diego Chargers the Colts clearly seemed to have a hangover from their tough loss to the Patriots as they fell behind early as Darren Sproles returned the opening kick off and a punt for a touchdown to give the Chargers a 23-0 lead. Peyton was also off his game as he was picked off six times, but the Colts defense kept them in the game with Gary Brackett recovering a fumble in the endzone to bring the Colts to within two points. The two point conversion attempt failed but the Colts continued to fight back, and had a chance to win the game as Adam Vinateri set up for a 29-yard game winning field goal. However, on a slippery rainy night it sailed wide right as the Chargers held on for a 23-21 win. Vinateri would atone for his missed field goal a week later by kicking the game winner from 24 yards out to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 13-10. That win, although not the sharpest game from the Colts got them back on track as they won six in row before losing a meaningless game at the end of the season to the Titans at home. Along the way the Colts had new heroes establishing themselves in the AFC South, as Bob Sanders who was always in the shadows of the offense and was named Defensive Player of the Year by backstopping a vastly improved Colts defense that continued their improvement from the run to the Super Bowl. While Marvin Harrison was limited to just five games it was Rookie Anthony Gonzalez the Colts first round draft pick that ended up fitting in the Colts system nicely with 576 yards receiving and three touchdowns, as the Colts posted a 13-3 record. With a first round bye the anticipation for a rematch with the Patriots was high league wide. However, it was another rematch that proved to be a bump in the road for the Colts as the faced the Chargers in the final game ever at the RCA Dome. The Colts would get off to a strong start as Peyton Manning hit Dallas Clark on a 25-yard Touchdown pass in the first quarter. However, the Chargers proved pesky despite losing LaDainian Tomlinson to a knee injury taking a 14-10 lead in the third quarter. The Colts would retake the lead as Manning hit Reggie Wayne, but on the quarter’s final play Philip Rivers hit Darren Sproles on a 56-yard touchdown catch and run to give the Chargers a 21-17 lead heading into the game’s final 15 minutes. On the play Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers was knocked out of the game with a knee injury of his own, as the Colts retook the lead on a 55-yard Touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Anthony Gonzalez. However, the Chargers continued to hang on taking the lead as back up Quarterback Bill Volek plunged into the endzone from one yard out. Unfortunately there would be no rally for the Colts as the Chargers went on to face the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game with a 28-24 win.
2008: Entering their 25th season in Indianapolis, the Colts had a new field to roam, as Lucas Oil Field, a retractable roof stadium opened. However, fans attending the first official game at the new stadium went home disappointed as the Colts were beaten by the Chicago Bears 29-13 in a Sunday Night showdown. A week later the Colts found themselves down 15-0 as they faced the Minnesota Vikings on the road. However, Peyton Manning who got off to a slow start thanks to minor knee surgery just before the season started. However, a week later they would suffer another set back as they were beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-21, who needed a 51-yard field goal by Josh Scobee in the final seconds. Following a bye week the Colts were in danger of losing again, as they trailed the Houston Texans 27-10 in the 4th Quarter. However, three touchdowns in the final 4:04 saved the day, as the Colts used a 68-yard fumble return from Gary Bracket who returned a fumble by Texans Quarterback Sage Rosenfels. The Colts, final earned their first win at Lucas Oil Field a week later, by beating up the Baltimore Ravens 31-3. However, their early struggles continued as they dropped their next two games road, including a 31-21 Monday Night loss to the Tennessee Titans that dropped them four games out of first place. At 3-4 the Colts faced a crossroad facing the New England Patriots at home, in a defensive struggled the Colts would get the win as Adam Vinatieri’s 52-yard field goal with 8:05 proved to be the difference in an 18-15 win. A week later the Colts would win their first game in Pittsburgh in 40 years beat the Steelers 24-20, as Peyton Manning led another comeback from a double digit deficit. Following another close win over the Texans at home, the Colts got some revenged against the San Diego Chargers as Adam Vinatieri nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Colts a dramatic 23-20 win on the road. The win was the fourth in a row for the Colts, who finally seemed to hit their stride after a slow start. They would go on to win their final five games. However, despite their 12-4 record the Colts had to settle for the Wild Card. In the playoffs the Colts would face the Chargers again in San Diego. Despite a solid game from Peyton Manning, who passed for 310 yards, the Colts could not solve Chargers Running Back Darren Sproles, as the Chargers change of pace back led the way with 105 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run in overtime that gave the Chargers a 23-17 win, eliminating the Colts for the second straight season. Following the season the Colts would say good bye to Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison, who was released, while Coach Tony Dungy retired to pursue other projects with the league, including starting a league wide mentoring program. Longtime Dungy assistant Jim Caldwell would take over as Dungy’s hand chosen successor.
2009: With the retirement of Tony Dungy, the Colts looked for continuity by naming assistant Jim Caldwell as the new coach, with much of Dungy’s staff remaining on hand. In the opening game at Lucas Oil Field, the Colts offense struggled at times, but the defense stepped up as the Colts opened the season with a 14-12 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. A week later on Monday Night on the road in Miami the same Colts defense would be pushed around by the Dolphins, who controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock holding the ball for over 45 minutes, while running 84 plays from scrimmage. However, the Colts just need the arm of Peyton Manning to improve to 2-0, passing for 303 yards in a 27-23 win, as an 80 yard hook up with Dallas Clark, and a 48 yard connection with Pierre Garcon keyed the way to victory. The Colts would not be challenged over the next four games, as they topped 30 points in each game on the way to starting 6-0. Facing the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8, the Colts need to show their ability to comeback, as they trailed 14-6 late in the first half, but managed to win 18-14, as their defense stiffened. A week later the Colts jumped out to 13-0 lead over the Houston Texans, but found themselves behind in the 4th Quarter as the Texans scored the next 17 points. The Colts would respond, taking a 20-17 lead on a two yard run by Joseph Addai. The Colts would go on to hold to a 20-17 win, as Texans kicker Kris Brown missed a 42 yard field goal as time expired. At 8-0 the Colts looked to be on the way to their first loss, as they fell trailed the New England Patriots 31-14 in the 4th Quarter on Sunday Night Football. The Colts would score twice in the 4th Quarter, but still had a long way to go down 34-28 as the Patriots had the ball with just over two minutes left. However, a stunning gamble by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick gave the Colts new life, as he decided to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory. The Colts would not look a gift horse in the mouth Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a one yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left to give the Colts a stunning 35-34 win. After a 17-15 win over the Baltimore Ravens on the road, improved them to 10-0, the Colts had their ability to comeback tested again, as they trailed the Texans 17-0. However, when you have Peyton Manning, you are never out of the game, as the Colts MVP led the Colts to a 35-27 win with three touchdown passes. The win marked the 20th straight victory for the Colts in regular season games, setting a new NFL record; it also helped secure the South Division Championship. After two straight wins at home the Colts sat at 13-0, with a perfect season in their grasp. However, getting to 14-0 required more Manning magic, as the Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-31 in an exciting back and forth Thursday Night battle. In the game Manning eclipsed the 4,000 yard passing mark for the tenth time in his career, with 308 yards and four touchdown passes including the 65 yard game winner to Reggie Wayne, with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was performances like this one that helped Peyton Manning claim his record fourth NFL MVP award. At 14-0 it seemed only the Colts could beat the Colts, and that is just what happened. Leading 15-10 in the 3rd Quarter against the New York Jets in the final home game of the regular season, the Colts decided to pull their starters. With back up QB Curtis Painter struggling the Jets came back to win 29-15, as the Colts were soundly blasted by the local and national media. With the starters hardly playing in blizzard like conditions the Colts would finish 14-2, following a 30-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
2009 Playoffs: After resting their players in the final two games of the regular season, and a bye week during the Wild Card round the Colts had to guard against rust as they faced the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. In the past the Colts had struggled in similar situations. This time they would not play at their highest level, as Peyton Manning looked ordinary, and the Colts offense looked boring. However, when you go 14-2, boring is a good thing as the Colts won 20-3 to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Facing the New York Jets, who’s fading playoff hopes were revived when the Colts benched their starters in Week 16, the Colts had their strategy of resting players at the end of the season put to the test, as the Jets were the hot team entering the game. Early on the Jets were controlling the game, leading 17-6 late in the first half. However, heading into halftime Peyton Manning took control driving the Colts down the field 80 yards in four plays and less than a minute to cut the Jets lead to four points. In the 3rd Quarter the Colts took the lead, as Manning connected with Pierre Garcon on a four yard touchdown pass. The Colts defense would completely shut down the Jets in the second half, as Manning led to more scoring drives to give the Colts a 30-17 win that would send them to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years.
Super Bowl XLIV: Back in Miami where they won the Super Bowl three years earlier, the Colts were once again favorites as they faced the New Orleans Saints. A match up of personal interest to Peyton Manning, who grew up in New Orleans watching his father Archie Manning play for awful Saints teams. Early on it was all Colts, as Peyton Manning led two 1st Quarter scoring drives to grab an early 10-0 lead. After the Saints scored a Field Goal in 2nd Quarter, the Colts had a chance to land a body blow, as their defense turned the Saints away from the three yard line with a brilliant goal line stand. However, a dropped pass by Pierre Gracon and trouble getting the running game going left the Saints with another chance to score before halftime, as Garrett Hartley cut the lead to 10-6 on a 44 yard Field Goal as the first half came to an end. However, expecting to get the ball to start the second half the Colts were still in prime position to win the game. Needing to roll the dice, Saints Coach Sean Payton decided to try an on-side kick that caught the Colts off guard, as Hank Baskett was unable to hold on to the second half kickoff. The Saints would recover and take the lead on the ensuing drive. The Colts would respond as Joseph Addai capped a scoring drive with a one yard TD run. After Hartley added another long Field Goal, the Colts entered the 4th Quarter leading by one point 17-16. A drive to answer the Field Goal would sputter, as Matt Stover missed a 51 yard Field Goal. From there the Saints took over as Drew Brees once again gave the Saints a lead with 5:42 left on a two yard pass to Jeremy Shockey. The Saints would make the lead a full seven points, as Brees connected with Lance Moore on a two point conversion. However, with Peyton Manning the Colts did not seem to worry, but this time there would be no Manning magic, as the Colts MVP was picked off by Tracy Porter, who returned the ball 74 yards to seal a 31-17 win for the Saints.
2010: Coming off the disappoint loss in Super Bowl XLV, the Colts started the season with a 34-24 loss to the Houston Texans, despite the loss Peyton Manning who had off-season neck surgery start the season strong with 433 yards passing with three Touchdowns. A week later in the Colts home opener, Peyton Manning out dueled brother Eli as the Colts crushed the New York Giants 38-14. After a road win against the Denver Broncos, the Colts suffered their second division loss of the season as they were beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-28 in an action packed back and forth game that saw Josh Scobee hit a game winning 59 yard Field Goal as time expired. Following the loss to the Jaguars, the Colts would win their next three games, highlighted by a 30-17 win over the Texans in the opening week rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium. Following the win over the Texans the Colts hit a rough stretch, losing three of their next four games, as injuries began to take their toll on offense and defense, with 18 players going on injured reserve. Among the players the Colts would lose were favorite Manning targets Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie, who suffered two concussions. On defense it was the Colts secondary that bore the brunt, as Safety Bob Sanders only played one game before being lost again. The Colts would also lose Melvin Bulitt, Kelvin Hayden and Jerraud Powers. They would also see RB Joseph Addai miss eight games, while LB Gary Brackett was lost for four. At 6-6, the Colts would need a strong finish to make the playoffs. Beginning with a Sunday Night 30-28 win over the Tennessee Titans, Peyton Manning began to take over carrying the team on his back as passed for 319 yards with two Touchdown passes. A week later they would avenge their earlier loss to the Jaguars, winning 34-24 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Despite two interceptions, Manning again was the key, with three Touchdown passes as the Colts won a third straight game on the road against the Oakland Raiders 31-26. The Colts would go on to finish the season with a 10-6 record, clinching their ninth straight playoff appearance with a 23-20 win over the Titans as Adam Vinatieri won the game on a 43 yard Field Goal as time expired. With the 10-6 record the Colts would also win the AFC South again and would host the New York Jets in the Wild Card round. Early on things looked good for the Colts and Peyton Manning and Pierre Garcon hooked up for a 57 yard TD pass to give the Cols a 7-0 lead in the 1st Quarter. The defense would tighten as the Jets tied the game early in the 2nd Quarter. However, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 47 yard Field Goal to give the Colts a 10-7 halftime lead. The lead would hold up until the 4th Quarter when LaDainian Tomlinson scored his second Touchdown of the game to give the Jets a 14-10 lead. The Colts could not get the ball in the endzone, but with two Vinatieri Field Goals, including a 50 yarder with 53 seconds left gave the Colts a 16-14 lead. The lead would not last as Antonio Cromartie returned Pat McAfee’s kickoff 47 yards to set the Jets up at midfield. The Jets would take advantage of the return, with all three timeouts in their pocket and would quickly get down the field to set Nick Folk for a 32 yard Field Goal that would win the game for the Jets 17-16.
2011: For the second straight season, Peyton Manning had off-season neck injury. However, due to the pre-season lockout, Manning did not have access to team doctors or trainers, and when the league and the players reached a settlement and training camp start it was clear he had not fully recovered. Eventually Manning would get a second and third procedure done, as the Colts went into the season without their four time MVP. Due to poor play of back up Curtis Painter, the desperate Colts signed Kerry Collins, who had only a few months earlier announced his retirement. Collins was thrown right into the fire as the Colts opened the season on the road against the Houston Texans. The game would be a blow out as the Colts were rocked 34-7 in their first game without Manning since 1998. Things would not go any better in their home opener, as the Colts offense sputtered in an ugly 27-19 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime, the Colts fell behind early 10-0. However, with Jamaal Anderson returning a fumble 47 yards for a Touchdown, the Colts took a 13-10 lead at the half, as Curtis Painter relieved an injured Kerry Collins at quarterback. The Colts would hold the lead until the fourth quarter. However, Painter’s fumble led to the Steelers regaining the lead late in the game. The Colts would tie the game, but in the end they would fall to 0-3 as Shaun Suisham won the game for the Steelers 23-20 with a 3 yard field goal in the final seconds. Injuries would begin to take their toll on the Colts, as several key players joined Peyton Manning in street clothes. Among the players lost man power were LB Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt and Dallas Clark. With Curtis Painter getting his first start, the Colts again had a chance to win a game, but fell short on the road, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-17. Returning home it was more frustration, as the Colts dropped to 0-5 with a 28-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, after allowing 21 unanswered points. Following a 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts faced the New Orleans Saints a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV at the Superdome in primetime. The game was over before it even started, as the Saints jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. The Saints would go on to win the game 62-7. The Colts would not play much better the following week, as they were beaten by the Tennessee Titans 27-10. The Colts would return home, but continued their losing ways as it became clear that Peyton Manning would miss the entire season. The Colts would drop to 0-9 with a 31-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. A week later, Curtis Painter would be benched, but Dan Orlovsky was unable to stop the bleeding as the Colts went into the bye week with an imperfect 0-10 record, following a 17-10 loss the Jacksonville Jaguars. Following the bye, the Colts continued to lose, as they suffered a 27-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Against the New England Patriots, Dan Orlovsky got his first start and played well as the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. However, their comeback fell short as the Patriots had built a 31-3 lead, and won 31-24. Following a loss on the road to the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts came home looking at a winless season. When Orlovsky was with the Detroit Lions he was part of a 0-16 disaster, but for the Colts it was shocking and new as just two years earlier they seemed to be heading for a 16-0 season, before shutting down the starters in the last two games. Facing the Titans at home, the Colts would finally end their losing streak, with a 27-13 win as Donald Brown had a breakout game rushing for 161 yards highlighted by an 80 yard Touchdown run. The Colts would win a second straight game in a Thursday Night stunner against the Texans, as Dan Orlovsky hit Reggie Wayne in the endzone with 14 seconds left to secure a 19-16 win. The Colts season would end with a 19-13 road loss to the Jaguars, as they secured the top pick in the NFL Draft with a 2-14 record. Following the season the Colts would take the drastic approach of starting from scratch, as longtime team President Bill Polian was fired, the Colts also canned Coach Jim Caldwell, as they decided to say good bye to Peyton Manning. The Colts owing a roster bonus to Manning decided to let their franchise quarterback walk away, as they sought a new franchise quarterback with the first pick. That new franchise quarterback would be Andrew Luck, who scouts consider to be one of the best pure passing quarterbacks in the draft since Peyton Manning himself.
2012: Right away Quarterback Andrew Luck would face a test, as the Colts opened the season on the road against the Chicago Bears. Luck, would pass for 309 yards, but had three interceptions as the Bears easily beat the Colts 41-21. Luck would fare better in his home debut, as the Colts faced the Minnesota Vikings. Passing for 245 yards, with two touchdowns Andrew Luck would guide the Colts to a 20-6 lead after three quarters. The Vikings would come back to even the score as the Colts went into an offensive shell trying to hold the lead. However, the Colts would win the game 23-20, as Adam Vinatieri hit a 53 yard Field Goal in the game’s final seconds. A week later, Andrew Luck and the Colts would get the early lead again, as they hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, once again the Colts played conservative football after a 14-3 halftime lead, and allowed the Jaguars back in the game. Trailing, 16-14 the Colts appeared to have survived another close call as Vinatieri hit a 37 yard Field Goal with 56 seconds left. The lead would be short lived as Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert Connected with Cecil Short III on an 80 yard Touchdown pass with 45 seconds left to give the Jaguars a 22-16 win. The Colts would hit the bye week with a record of 1-2, but the concern shifted to their new Coach Chuck Pagano, as he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Pagano would take a leave to receive treatment as Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians took over the head coaching duties. Hosting the Green Bay Packers, and dedicating the game to their ailing coach, the Colts rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to win the game 30-27, as Andrew Luck had a strong second half, passing for 362 yards with two touchdowns including the game winning four yard pass to Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds remaining. After a huge emotional home win, a letdown was only natural as the Colts suffered a 35-9 loss to the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. Returning home, the Colts got back to .500 with a 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns. A week later, Andrew Luck and the Colts would go over .500, as they got their first road win by rallying to beat the Tennessee Titans in overtime 19-13, as Delonte Carter tied the game on a one yard run, while Andrew Luck won the game with a 16 yard TD pass to Vick Ballard. Last minute wins continued to be theme for the Colts as they edged the Miami Dolphins 23-20 on 43 yard Vinateiri Field Goal. During the game Andre Luck had his first 400 yard game, passing for 433 yards with two touchdowns. At 5-3 the Colts were in the playoff race, as #Chuckstrong became the team’s theme, with fans, players, coaches, cheerleaders and even the mascot shaving their heads to support Coach Chuck Pagano and his ongoing chemotherapy treatments for Leukemia. The Colts winning ways would continue, as they beat the Jaguars 27-10 on the road, with Andrew Luck running in two touchdowns, while Darius Butler had an 11 yard pick six of Blaine Gabbert. The Colts winning streak would come to an end with a 59-24 loss on the road against the New England Patriots. However, they would quickly rebound by beating the Buffalo Bills 20-13, with T.Y. Hilton running back a punt 75 yards, while catching an eight yard Touchdown pass. The following week the Colts would get their most miraculous win of the season, beating the Detroit Lions 35-33. Trailing 33-21, late in the 4th Quarter the Colts comeback began as Andre Luck and LaVon Brazil connected on a 42 yard pass with 2:39 left. The Colts would quickly get the ball back and taking advantage of a poor punt, Luck guided the Colts down the field and hit Donnie Avery on a short pass, which Avery took into the endzone as time expired in front of a stunned crowd at Ford Field. The Colts would rally again the following week at Lucas Oil Field beating the Titans 27-23, after trailing 20-7 at the half. The big play was an interception return by Cassius Vaugh in the 3rd Quarter after the Titans got the ball buried deep in their own territory. Following a 29-17 road loss to the Houston Texans, the Colts locked up a playoff berth with one week to go, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 20-13. The Colts would face the Texans again in the season finale, as Chuck Pagano on the sidelines for the first time since Week 3, with Pagano there would be no denying the Colts as 28-16 to finish the season with a record of 11-5 as Bruce Arians who led the team in Pagano’s absence was named Coach of the Year.
2012 Playoffs: In the playoffs the Colts began facing a Baltimore Ravens team that had its own emotional leader making a comeback as Ray Lewis who missed ten weeks with a triceps injury returned for the playoffs while announcing his plans to retire. The Colts also suffered a blow before the game, as Bruce Arians their offensive coordinator was sent to the hospital, suffering flu like symptoms. Despite missing Arians, the Colts offense marched the ball up and down the field. However, they could not break the Ravens defense who limited them to four field goal attempts, which Adam Vinateri made three. The Colts also had two costly turnovers and three sacks as Andrew Luck playing in his first playoff game did show some rookie nerves. In the end the Ravens would be too experienced to lose against a young Colts teams, as they won the game 24-9. The Ravens would go on to win Super Bowl XLVII .
2013: After a successful rookie season ended with a playoff berth, the Colts looked to be even better in Andre Luck’s second season at quarterback. The Colts would begin the season at home against the Oakland Raiders. The Colts started quickly as Luck had two touchdown passes to build a 14-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter. However, the Colts trying to run the ball saw their offense get bogged down over the next two quarters, as the Raiders took a 17-10 lead in the 4th Quarter. The Colts facing an embarrassing season opening loss, would get their offense back on track as Andrew Luck scored on a 19 yard run to win the game 21-17 as y Antoine Bethea picked off Terrell Pryor to preserve the victory. Against the Miami Dolphins the Colts would find themselves in a back and forth battle and Lucas Oil Stadium, as the game was tied 17-17 at the half. In the second half the defenses would take over as the Colts took the lead early on a 38 yard Field Goal by Adam Vinatieri, but the Dolphins responded with a Charles Clay Touchdown to take a 24-20 lead. The rest of the way would be a defensive struggle as Andrew Luck was sacked by Philip Weaver on 4th down near the redzone in the game’s final minutes to end the Colts hopes for winning the game. Looking for a spark the Colts made a blockbuster trade, picking up RB Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns for a first round draft pick. Just a year earlier, Richardson was the third overall pick behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. In his first carry, Richardson scored a touchdown as the Colts faced the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Richardson would only manage 35 yards on 13 carries in his Colts debut, but Ahmad Bradshaw picked up the slack rushing for 95 yards as the Colts stunned the 49ers 27-7 at Candlestick Park. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week later, the Colts would get off to a slow start. After trailing 3-0 at the end of the 1st Quarter the Colts turned things around with their defense with Darius Butler returning an interception 41 yards for a touchdown as part of a 20 point 2nd Quarter outburst. The Colts would go on to win the game going away 37-3. The Colts would also start slowly a week later as they returned home to face the Seattle Seahawks. Early on everything seemed to be going wrong as the Seahawks led 12-0 Pat McAfee had a punt blocked through the endzone. However, with one play the Colts found a spark of life as Andrew Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton on a 72 yard TD pass before the first 15 minutes were over. The Colts would then take the lead on as Delano Howell returned a blocked field goal 61 yards for a TD, but the Seahawks would regain the lead as the Colts trailed 28-23 entering the 4th Quarter. The 4th Quarter would be all Colts, as Donald Brown gave them a lead with a three yard score, as Luck and Reggie Wayne added the two point conversion leading the way to a 34-28 win. With a game against the Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on the horizon, the Colts could not avoid a letdown facing the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football, losing the game 19-9. Manning would get a warm reception and video tribute as he returned to face the Colts in a Sunday Night showdown. However, Andrew Luck showed he was every bit the suitable replacement, passing for 228 yards with three touchdowns, adding a 10 yard touchdown run as the Colts won the game 39-33. However, not all news was good as Reggie Wayne suffered a season ending knee injury. Following the bye week, the Colts came out flat in another Sunday Night game against the Houston Texans, trailing 21-3 at the half. In the second half, Luck and T.Y. Hilton led a stirring comeback connecting on three touchdowns, as the Colts rallied for a 27-24 win to improve to 6-2. However, there would be no coming back the following week as Andrew Luck was picked off three times in an ugly 38-8 home loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Colts continued to get off to slow starts facing the Tennessee Titans as Chris Johnson had two 1st quarter TDS to build a 17-6 lead at the half. The Colts came out strong in the third quarter, with Donald Brown and Andrew Luck each scoring to turn the game around. The Colts would add another Brown touchdown in the 4th Quarter and a pair of VInatieri Field Goals to win the game 30-27. However, their struggles at home continued when Luck had another poor game as the Colts were stunned by the Bruce Ariens Coached Arizona Cardinals 40-11. Looking for redemption, the Colts defense forced four turnovers, while Adam Viantieri had five field goals to lead the way to a second win over the Titans 22-14. With a chance to clinch the AFC South, the Colts fell behind 21-0 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Colts would fight back with the help of an interception returned by Da’Rick Rogers. However, the Bengals offense continued to score almost at will and won the game 42-28. Despite the loss dropping them to 8-5, the Colts would clinch the division later that night as the Broncos beat the Titans. Winning the division seemed to take some pressure of the Colts, as they recorded a 25-3 win over the Texans. They continued to finish strong with a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, as Donald Brown scored two touchdowns and collected 120 all purpose yards. They would go on to finish the season with a record of 11-5, beating the Jaguars 30-10 to close out the regular season. In his second season Andrew Luck once again had 23 touchdown passes, while cutting in half his interceptions from 18 to nine.
2013 Playoffs: Facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round, the Colts got off to a terrible start, committing two turnovers in the first half as they fell behind 31-10 at the half. Andrew Luck continued to struggle after halftime, throwing a second interception on the first play of the 3rd Quarter as the Chiefs appeared to put the game out of reach with a 38-10 lead. However, the Chiefs began losing key players due to injuries, opening a path for the Colts to stage one of the biggest comebacks in NFL Playoff history. With a pair of Donald Brown touchdowns the Colts began their comeback cutting the Chiefs lead to 38-24. Luck would toss another interception late in the 3rd Quarter, but the Chiefs managed just a Ryan Succop Field Goal to go up 41-24. The Colts would add another score as Andrew Luck connected with Coby Fleener on a 12 yard TD pass. The Colts would continue the charge, in the 4th Quarter as Luck was in the right spot to scoop up a fumble by Donald Brown for a five yard touchdown. The Chiefs would tack on a Field Goal to make the score 44-38, but there would be no stopping Andre Luck as he connected with T.Y. Hilton on a 65 yard bomb to give the Colts a 45-44 lead with 1:15 left in the game. Looking to win the game the Chiefs would get the ball into Colt territory, but QB Alex Smith was called for intentionally grounding as the Colts held on for the dramatic win. Andrew Luck who tossed three interceptions, was able to overcome the mistakes by passing for 443 yards and four touchdowns. By beating the Chiefs, the Colts next faced an old rival in the New England Patriots at Foxboro. Once again Andrew Luck had trouble with turnovers, with four interceptions. This time against the experienced Patriots, there would be no overcoming the mistakes as LaGarrette Blount bulldozed his way to 166 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 43-22 win.
2014: Coming off Andrew Luck’s first playoff win the Indianapolis Colts looked to continue to climb the ladder as they began the season against their old Quarterback Peyton Manning in the Sunday Night opener in Denver. Luck was solid, passing for 370 yards, but two costly interceptions and three touchdowns for Manning would enable the Broncos to claim a 31-24 win. The Colts home opener would also be in primetime as they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. Things looked good early for the Colts as they held a 20-6 lead in the third quarter. However, after a LaSean McCoy touchdown cut the lead in half, a costly Trent Richardson fumble set the Eagles up for the game tying score. In his second season in Indianapolis, Richardson continued to struggle, rushing for just 519 yards on 159 carriers. The Colts regained the leading in the fourth quarter on a seven yard pass from Andrew Luck to Ahmad Bradshaw. However, the Eagles benefiting from a controversial non call on a pass interference picked off Luck and tied the game. The Eagles would eventually win the game 30-27 as Cody Parkey hit a 36 yard Field Goal as time expired. After losing their first two games, the Colts took out their frustrations on the Jacksonville Jaguars, jumping out to a 30-0 lead as they cruised to an easy 44-17 win. The Colts were just a dominant crushing the Tennessee Titans 41-17 at Lucas Oil Stadium, as Luck passed for 393 yards with four touchdowns. The following week would not be a cake walk, as the Colts offense faltered several times in the redzone, but with their defense putting forth their best effort still managed to win their third straight game 20-13 against the Baltimore Ravens. Four days later on Thursday Night Football the Colts looked for another easy win, as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter on the Houston Texans. However, the Texans responded with two scores in the second quarter to get back in the game. The Colts would manage just nine points after their first quarter eruption, with T.Y. Hilton making a scoring grab on the final play of third quarter, with the ensuing two point try coming up short. In the end the Colts would hold off the Texans rally attempt, winning the game 33-28 as the Colts defense forced two key turnovers in the final five minutes to preserve the win. Returning home for Week 7, the Colts defense who had been without their leading tackler Robert Mathis all season played their most impressive game of the season, completely shutting down the Cincinnati Bengals to win the game 27-0. As the Bengals offense had trouble even getting the ball past midfield. Unfortunately the defense that blanked the Bengals was nowhere to be seen a week later, as they were shredded by the Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field 51-34. The Steelers broke the game open with four scores in the second quarter, as Big Ben, rang up 522 passing yards with six touchdowns. The Colts would recover with a 40-24 win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands, as Andrew Luck continued to show why he was the best young quarterback in the league, with 354 yards and four touchdowns. After beating the Giants, the Colts would get a week off before a Sunday Night showdown with the New England Patriots. Unfortunately the Colts would have no answers for Jonas Gray, who rushed for 204 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 42-20 win for the Pats. Following their letdown against the Patriots, the Colts posted a lackluster 23-3 win over the Jaguars. Against the Washington Redskins the big play was the Colts weapon, as Donte Moncrief had touchdown receptions of 48 yards and 79 yards as Andrew Luck had five TD passes in an easy 49-27 win at the barn. In Week 14 Andrew Luck had one of the worst games of his career, with a fumble and interception leading directly to touchdown scores to help the Cleveland Browns take a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. Despite struggling early, Luck was strong when it mattered most as his one yard pass to Hilton with 32 seconds left pulled the game out of the fire, allowing Indianapolis to improve to 9-4 with a 25-24 win. The Colts would clinch the AFC South a week later, as they remained unbeaten at home against the Texans with a 17-10 win. The Colts would split their last two games on the road against the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans, posting a record of 11-5 for the third straight season. Andrew Luck again was the Colts star, passing for 4,715 yards with 40 touchdowns.
2014 Playoffs: After an easy win earlier in the season against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts learned early in the Wild Card playoff round that t
he Bengals come to play, as an early score from Dan Herron was matched by Jerremy Hill as the score was even after the first quarter. The Colts had their chances to take command of the game in the second quarter, but managed just two Field Goals by the ageless Adam Vinatieri who at the age of 42 remained one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL. After holding a 13-10 lead at the half the Colts finally got some breathing room in the third quarter as Andrew Luck hooked up with Donte Moncrief on a 36 yard touchdown score. The Colts would add two more Vinatieri Field Goals as they went on to win the game 26-10. After their win over the Bengals the Colts would return to Denver to face Peyton Manning for the second time in the season. The game had a changing of the guard feel, as the Broncos scored first with Manning completing a one yard pass to Demaryius Thomas to score on the first possession of the game. It would be the only touchdown the Broncos would score. The Colts answered in the second quarter with a TD run by Herron and a reception by Dwayne Allen. Holding a 14-10 lead at the half the Colts opened some breathing room as Hakeem Nicks caught a 15 yard pass from Andrew Luck in the third quarter. Despite his best efforts, Peyton Manning looked old, completing just 26 of 46 passes as the Colts galloped on to the AFC Championship Game with a 24-13 win. Facing the New England Patriots with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, the Colts committed the cardinal sin and let the Patriots take control of the game early, with two scores in the first quarter. The Colts tried to creep back in the game in the second quarter with Zurlon Tipton scoring on a one yard run, as D’Qwell Jackson picked off Tom Brady in the endzone. As the game went to halftime with the Patriots leading 17-7, Jackson and the Colts discovered that the Patriots offense were using illegally defeated footballs. However, the discovery would not stop the Patriots as they put the game out of reach with 21 points in the third quarter as LeGarrette Blount took the role of Jonas Gray and ran the Colts defense down with 148 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots would win the game 45-7 and claim their fourth Super Bowl title, though the backlash of the deflated footballs clouded and tainted their title again.
2015: Following their deflating loss in the AFC Championship Game, the Indianapolis Colts hoped they could continue to climb the ladder in Andrew Luck’s fourth season as quarterback. Luck struggled at the start of the season throwing two interceptions, as the Colts porous offense line became an issue right from the start of the season as they were stunned by the Buffalo Bills 27-17. In the home opener on Monday Night Football, Andrew Luck had another rough night throwing three interceptions as the Colts were beaten by the New York Jets 20-7. At 0-2 the Colts needed to get things going as they faced the Tennessee Titans in their first division game of the season. Early on things looked good as Dwight Lowry’s 69-yard interception return gave them an early 14-0 lead. After cutting the lead to 14-10 at the half, the Titans took over the game in the third quarter, scoring 17 unanswered points as Andre Luck continued to be turnover prone with two more interceptions. Down 27-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Andrew Luck finally found his grove leading three scoring drives four minutes to give Indianapolis a 35-27 lead. The Titans would answer with a nine play 80-yard drive, but failed to tie the score as Jalston Fowler was knocked backwards attempting a two point conversion with 47 seconds left to preserve the 35-33 win. The win would be tempered a bit as Andrew Luck missed the following game with a shoulder injury. Without their star quarterback, the Colts defense had a solid effort, blanking the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half as Adam Vinatieri’s 27-yard kick won the game at Lucas Oil Field in overtime 16-13. With Andrew Luck still unable to play, Matt Hasslebeck got a second start four days later as the Colts faced the Houston Texans. Free agent acquisition Andre Johnson, who struggled in his first four games had a breakout performance against his old team catching six passes for 77 yards with two scores as the Colts improved to 3-2 with a 27-20 win on the road. Andrew Luck was back in time for the Colts AFC Championship rematch with the New England Patriots. With his best game of the season, Luck passed for 312 yards with three touchdowns. However, a strange play call from Coach Chuck Pagano short circuited any chance of winning the game. Down 27-21 late in the third quarter, Pagano went for it on 4th down and three at their own 37. Using a strange formation, Andre Luck left virtually unprotected as sacked, as the Patriots took over and padded their lead, eventually winning the game 34-27. The loss would send the Colts reeling, as they lost their next two games to the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. The loss to the Panthers was especially frustrating as the Colts scoring 17 points in the last seven minutes rallied from down 23-6 to force overtime. The Colts won the overtime coin toss and scored on a 50-yard Field Goal by Adam Vinateiri, but the Panthers were able to answer the score and went on to win the Monday Night game in the rain 29-26. Following the loss, the Colts sitting at 3-5 fired Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton. With Peyton Manning making his final appearance at Lucas Oil Field, the Colts got their offense back on track as Andrew Luck passed for 252 yards with two scores as the Colts handed the Denver Broncos their first loss of the season with 27-24 win. Little did any know at the time, it would be Luck’s final game of the season, as he was hospitalized two days later with lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle suffered during the fourth quarter. The ageless Matt Hasselbeck continued to provide solid relief, leading the Colts to wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Buccaneers. However, soon the lack of a strong offensive line began to take its toll on the 40-year old quarterback as he was beaten up in an ugly 45-10 Sunday Night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. In the game Matt Hasselbeck was sacked five times and threw three interceptions. The Colts season continued to unravel in Week 14 as they allowed 42 second half points and were slammed by the Jaguars 51-16. Second half woes would be the story again a week later, as the Texans won their first ever game in Indianapolis 16-10 as they were shutout 13-0 after holding a 10-3 lead at the half. The Colts would win their final two games against the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans, but at 8-8 missed the playoffs for just the second time since 2002. Despite the disappointing season Coach Chuck Pagano was given a four year contract extension after many expected him to be dismissed following the season.
2016: Coming off a disappointing season the Indianapolis Colts opened the season at home against the Detroit Lions. The Colts stumbled out of the gate as the Lions built a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. Just before halftime the Colts found their offense, as Andrew Luck connected with Donte Moncrief to complete an eight play 75-yard scoring drive. The Colts carried the momentum into the third quarter as Luck connected with Dwayne Allen to get back with a field goal adding a two-point play. The Lions answered with a touchdown of their own, but the Colts continued charging and tied the game in the fourth quarter 28-28. After the Lions regained the lead with a touchdown, Andrew Luck appeared to have the game won with a six-yard pass to Jack Doyle with 37 seconds left as the Colts held a 35-34 lead thanks to a Detroit missed PAT. However, the Colts defense faltered as the Lions quickly made it down the field, to set up Matt Prater for a 50-yard field goal. The Lions would add two points on the ensuing kickoff as the Colts trying for a desperate lateral crazed return after time ran out were called for holding in the end zone leading to a safety and a 39-35 final. The opening week loss would be symbolic of the Colts season. In Week 2, they dropped a second straight game, losing to the Denver Broncos 34-20 as a pair of Andrew Luck turnovers led to 14 points on defensive scores for Denver in the fourth quarter. In danger of starting 0-3, the Colts rallied late to beat the San Diego Chargers 26-22 as Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton on a 63-yard score with 1:17 left in the game. Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, the Colts again got off to a slow start, trailing 23-6 at the end of three quarters. The Colts would stage a furious comeback in the fourth, scoring three times, highlighted by a 64-yard touchdown reception by Phillip Dorsett. However, it was not enough as the Jaguars held on to win the game 30-27. The Colts would become the first team to play the week after playing in London without a bye, hosting the Chicago Bears. The Colts again trailed in the fourth quarter, but this time managed to rebound as Luck’s 35-yard pass to Hilton put Indianapolis who led most of the game back in front on the way to a 29-23 win at Lucas Oil Field. A week later, on Sunday Night Football the Colts suffered their most frustrating loss of the season as they saw a 23-9 lead in the final five minutes go up in smoke as the Houston Texans rallied to win in overtime 26-23. The Colts had their own fourth quarterback a week later as Luck connected with Jack Doyle and Robert Mathis returned a fumble 14 yards for a touchdown for 14 points in eight seconds with under two minutes left to beat the Tennessee Titans 34-26. The Colts though continually failed to reach .500 as they were beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs 30-14 at home in Week 8. At Lambeau Field, the Colts got a big spark early as Jordan Todman returned the opening kick 99 yards for a touchdown as they went on to win the game 31-26 for their first road win over the Green Bay Packers since 1988. Following the bye week, the Colts finally got back to .500 at 5-5 with a 24-17 home win over the Titans. Four days later on Thanksgiving, the Colts would come out flat losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-7 as Andrew Luck was unable to play with a concussion. Luck would comeback a week later, and passed for 278 yards with four touchdowns as the Colts thrashed the New York Jets 41-10 on a Monday Night game in the Meadowlands. However, with a chance to put themselves in the control of the AFC South, the Colts suffered another letdown as they were swept by the Texans for the first time ever, losing 22-17 in Week 14 at home. The Colts would alternate wins and losses the remainder of the season, finishing at 8-8 as they missed the playoffs for a second straight season. Following the season General Manager Ryan Grigson would pay the price with his job, while Robert Mathis retired after 14 seasons and Punter Pat McAfee left to work for Barstool Sports.
2017: No matter how you analyze it, the season was an absolute disaster for the Indianapolis Colts. Throughout the offseason and into the preseason Andrew Luck’s health for the year was a huge question mark following his decision to get offseason surgery to repair his shoulder after him playing injured for a long time. It would be revealed at a later date that Luck caused more damage to the shoulder snowboarding during the winter months. Despite assurance, he would play in the regular season, the Colts made the decision to trade for New England Patriots third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett as a backup. Heading into the opener on the road against the Los Angeles Rams Luck was ruled out and veteran backup Scott Tolzein was given the nod to start the game. The Colts were embarrassed by the Rams 46-9 with Tolzein being pulled in favor of Brissett in the second half. Jacoby Brissett would start in the opener home-opener against the Arizona Cardinals as the Colts established a trend that would haunt them for the rest of the year: blown halftime leads. The score was 10-3 heading into the third quarter and Colts fans had much to be excited about with rookie ballhawk Malik Hooker getting the first interception of his career. However, the Colts were outscored10-3 in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals won 16-13 in overtime. Week 3 saw the Colts host the lowly Cleveland Browns. Both offenses were in full force with a whopping 35 points scored in the second quarter alone. Brissett shined as he threw for 259 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another two scores. T.Y. Hilton also looked as he was starting to get his chemistry down with the new quarterback as he had 153 yards receiving with a touchdown. Hooker also added another pick to his impressive start to his rookie campaign and defensive back Rashaan Melvin stepped up with two picks of his own as the Colts won 31-28. The Colts paid a visit to the hostile environment that is CenturyLink Field for a Sunday Night Football matchup in Week 4. Jacoby Brissett and the offense clicked early and the defense looked stout with a safety and an acrobatic interception by Matthias Farley. The Colts held a 15-10 halftime lead, but the tides changed in the second half when the Seattle Seahawks outscored the Colts 36-3 on the way to a 46-18 beatdown. Despite the blowout, there was still hope for the season when it was announced that Andrew Luck would begin practicing soon. Indy was back home Week 5 against the winless San Francisco 49ers. Despite the Niners woes, they put up a good fight against the Colts and took them to their second overtime game of the year. The Colts offense was too much for San Francisco to handle in the end as the Colts won 26-23 behind Brissett’s 314 yards in the air and Hilton’s monster 177-yard performance. Week 5 was also a bit of a coming out party for rookie USF product Marlon Mack who put up a sold 91 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries, including a pivotal 35-yard run to set up the Adam Vinatieri for the game winner in OT. The Colts then took their 2-3 record into a Monday Night Music City showdown against the Tennessee Titans. Again, the Colts got off to a strong start and raced to a 17-9 halftime lead by a John Simon pick six. However, once again the Colts struggled in the second half and were outscored 21-3 in the final quarter and fell to their AFC South rival 36-22. Week 7 was one of the worst games of the Colts season, as they were shutout by the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-0 in front of the Lucas Oil faithful. Making matters worse, Malik Hooker’s strong start to the year came to an abrupt halt as he suffered a serious knee injury. Things got worse for the 2-5 Colts a day later, with the news that Andrew Luck was still experiencing shoulder pain while throwing. The Colts second-half troubles continued to haunt them on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 as they held a 20-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but a late pick-six proved to be too much for the Colts to overcome in a 24-23 loss. The following week would see the Colts place Andre Luck on IR for the rest of the season. Despite the gut-wrenching news that Luck would not play in 2017, the Colts gave one of their strongest performances in Week 9, beating the Houston Texans 20-14 on the road, behind Brissett’s 308-yard game with and two touchdowns both of which were caught by T.Y. Hilton who had 175 yards. Heading into the bye-week the Colts hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet again the team did well early behind Brissett’s two touchdowns as they held a 17-9 lead after three quarters. However, the Steelers scored 11-unanswered points on won 20-17 on a last-second field goal by Chris Boswell. Following the bye, the Colts hosted the Titans. In what seemed like “deja-vu-all-over-again,” Indy climbed out to a 13-6 halftime lead but blew it in the second half suffering a 20-16 loss. Week 12 saw the Colts take their second beatdown of the season from the Jags, 30-10. In Week 14 the Colts faced the Buffalo Bills on the road in blizzard-like conditions as Frank Gore took a work-horse role and rumbled for 130 on 36 carries. The Colts rallied to tie the game with a late touchdown catch by Jack Doyle. The Colts then elected to kick the PAT after the 10-yard penalty and the entire special teams kicked away snow to give Adam Vinatieri and holder Rigoberto Sanchez room to complete this key kick. Despite the late-game dramatics, the Colts could not hold off the Bills as LeSean McCoy scored in overtime to win it for Buffalo 13-7. Week 15 was a “Battle of the Horses” as the Colts squared off with the Denver Broncos in a Thursday Night “Color Rush.” Brissett’s legs led the Colts to a 10-7 halftime lead but Brock Osweiler’s two touchdowns were too much for the Colts as they fell to 3-11, losing 25-13. In Week 16 the Colts traveled back to their old home to face the Baltimore Ravens. T.Y. Hilton put up another 100-yard game receiving effort, but it was not enough as the Ravens handed the Colts a 23-16 loss. The Colts would head back home to host Houston in the season finale. The Colts showed a different side that was seldom displayed throughout the year: second half fight. They entered the third quarter, trailing 13-7, but behind Marlon Mack’s highlight reel stiff-arm and run on Jadeveon Clowney and a late goal-line push by the Colts took a 14-13 lead. They would then add on a safety and two Vinatieri field goals on the way to a 22-13 win as they finished the season with a record of 4-12 that would spell the end of Chuck Pagano’s tenure as coach.
Written by Brendan McKeown