The Indianapolis Colts view numbers with a certain disdain.
To them, they’re nothing more than a distraction, something pundits can debate in their spare time – even if the Colts do hit 21.
“I’ve lost count (of the wins),” middle linebacker Gary Brackett said with a straight face Wednesday. “To us, it’s just another opportunity to continue playing good football.”
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Which, of course, is the primary reason the Colts (11-0) are standing here, on the precipice of history.
A victory Sunday over dethroned AFC South champion Tennessee would give the Colts their 21st consecutive win, matching New England’s NFL record.
The Colts haven’t lost a regular-season game since Oct. 27, 2008, when they fell to the Titans in Nashville, Tenn.
Over the last 13 months, the Colts have reeled off 20 consecutive victories in any variety of ways: Peyton Manning has led improbable comebacks; the defense has scored touchdowns; and kickers Adam Vinatieri and Matt Stover have hit game-winning field goals.
Here, inside this locker room, the significance of No. 21 means nothing more than another footstep on the way to their ultimate goal.
With the division title already clinched, the unbeaten Colts (11-0) have focused more on wrapping up the AFC‘s top seed and clinching home-field advantage than chasing another record.
They ultimately want to get back to Miami and bring home another Lombardi Trophy.
Meanwhile, those outside the locker room are talking about undefeated seasons and record-setting quests – and there is plenty to celebrate.
Indy has won an NFL-record five straight games with fourth-quarter comebacks. It is one of four teams since 1990 to earn a division title by Game 11. The Colts enter December with a perfect record for the second time in five seasons and need one more win to extend their NFL record of consecutive 12-win seasons to seven.
But to the Colts they are merely numbers.
“Sometimes you want to take that (winning) for granted, but you can’t do that,” cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. “Some organizations win 11 games in three years and we do it in one year. It’s great to be a part of this but we still have a job to do.”
Past experiences have taught the Colts the importance of keeping things in perspective.
They remember 2005, when everyone branded them the NFL’s best only to finish the season by losing three of their last four, including a divisional-round playoff game to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh.
They remember 2006, when everyone wrote them off because of a porous run defense only to watch them beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.
They remember 2007, when everyone projected an epic Indianapolis-New England rematch in the AFC championship game that never materialized after the Colts lost to San Diego in the divisional round.
So when others engage in conversation about which team is the best in the NFL or whether the Colts can break New England’s record, Indy’s players are content to let others talk while they work.
“We’re not paying attention to the record, we’re just trying to win games,” defensive lineman Raheem Brock said, chuckling. “We want to hit our peak for the playoffs.”
And that’s the only thing that really matters to the Colts these days.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to play well, to do things in different ways,” tight end Dallas Clark. “We’re just trying to get better.”