Inconsistent Colts still find ways to win

The Colts keep giving mixed signals.

They are beating some of the best teams in the NFL, knocking off

four of the league’s six clubs with four or fewer losses – two of

them on the road.

Yet Indy is ranked in the bottom half of the league in five of

the six major offensive and defensive categories.

So how good is this Indianapolis team?

”I think that remains to be seen,” tight end Coby Fleener

said.

The Colts (10-5) host Jacksonville (4-11) on Sunday to wrap up

the regular season. Then come the playoffs and a test of

Indianapolis’ prowess.

The Colts went to San Francisco and beat the 49ers in Week 3 and

two weeks later handed Seattle its first loss. The Colts also gave

Denver its first defeat in Peyton Manning’s hyped-up return to

Indianapolis.

”We play pretty much all of the elite teams,” T.Y. Hilton

said. ”We pretty much showcase what we have. When the playoffs

start, everybody has a clean slate, 0-0, and it goes by who’s the

better team that day.”

Indy came out of its bye week with inconsistent play.

The Colts went to Houston, fell behind big, and came back late

to beat the Texans. Then they got embarrassed in a 38-8 loss at

home to St. Louis before they slipped past Tennessee on the road,

30-27, and lost big in Arizona, 40-11.

Still, the Colts haven’t lost consecutive games since Andrew

Luck was drafted. And last week’s 23-7 victory at Kansas City gave

Indy its first back-to-back wins since the Colts beat the Broncos

and Texans.

Maybe they’ve figured it out now.

”We were just having problems starting fast back then,” Hilton

said. ”Team started jumping on us, and we dug ourselves too deep

of a hole to come back. Right now we’re playing good in all three

phases and we’re only going to get better.”

The Colts rank 19th in the league in yards allowed per game and

No. 24 in yards per play. But coach Chuck Pagano says this is the

type of defense that could lead Indianapolis to a championship.

”Playing with a ton of confidence right now,” he said.

”They’re having fun. There’s certain plays that are being made out

there that are sparking this defense and this team.”

The Colts may not be putting up many yards a game – they’re No.

17 with 339.3 – and they may have struggled converting on third

down (22 percent), but something seems to be working lately.

”It’s hard to put a finger on it specifically what’s changed,”

Griff Whalen said. ”I’m not sure what that would be. But just kind

of offensively, I feel like cohesively we’re getting better just at

executing our plays, kind of simplifying our game plan, running

plays that we know. And that allows everybody to individually know

what they need to do and execute it on the field and feel more

comfortable with it.”