Colts giving Patriots silent treatment heading into big game
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Colts spent so much time trying to catch the Patriots this offseason, they may actually have taken a page out of Bill Belichick's playbook.
Instead of talking about Sunday night's eagerly anticipated showdown with New England, the Colts have said little.
''It's the next game, nameless, faceless opponents,'' tight end Dwayne Allen joked as he attempted to downplay the primetime matchup. ''It's just the next opponent. It's just a game. I wish I had more for you.''
Playing coy won't change anything about this game.
Nine months ago, the Patriots blew out Indy in the AFC championship game then had to contend with allegations that they had used underinflated footballs.
Throughout the investigation, the Colts, who had alerted NFL officials to the issue before the game, didn't say much then. They still haven't.
The more pertinent question is this: Have the AFC South leaders actually closed the gap on their old nemesis?
In the past four games, New England has outscored the Colts 189-73 and run for 772 yards and 15 TDs.
So as Andrew Luck and his teammates tried to move past getting routed again by New England last season, general manager Ryan Grigson looked for solutions.
Now the revamped Colts (3-2) are quietly waiting for their next chance to see how they stack up against the defending Super Bowl champs.
''This team hasn't played that team, right?'' coach Chuck Pagano said when asked about what's happened in previous games. ''Got no relevance.''
Indy has good reason not to fuel the circus that's coming to town.
There's no assurance yet Luck's injured right shoulder will allow him to play this week even after he returned to full practice Monday.
Pagano said he was ''supremely confident'' Luck would start against Jacksonville and backup Matt Hasselbeck sounded just as confident of Luck starting last week at Houston.
Luck missed both games.
With or without their star quarterback, the Colts' supposedly high-powered offense hasn't exactly been in sync, the secondary has been battered by injuries and Indy still hasn't proven it can consistently stop the run - a dangerous combination against a team that is 4-0 against Luck.
Even worse for Indy, the Patriots (4-0) are one of the NFL's six remaining unbeaten teams and have shown no indication of slowing down.
Plus, they have the added motivation of proving they can beat the Colts with properly inflated footballs.
But the debate on both sides is over none of that.
''They've got new people, new personnel. But they want to beat us and we want to beat them,'' Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. ''It's not very complicated.''
To improve the Colts' chances, Grigson needed to change the blueprint.
He completely scrapped last season's starting defensive line, plugged rookie draft picks Henry Anderson and David Parry into the lineup, signed free-agent defensive end Kendall Langford.
In Week 5, Indy limited Houston running back Arian Foster to just 2.2 yards per carry and the Texans to 2.9 yards.
But as the Colts know too well, Houston is not New England. And this is not just another game.
It's the only Week 6 game pitting division leaders against one another, and, as it has in previous seasons, could have major playoff implications for both teams.
''It's a very, very good team that's undefeated coming into town,'' Luck said. ''There certainly is a history between us and them, but it's also a new year.''
And rather than talking about a rivalry, revenge or the Patriots by name, the Colts would rather make their statements on the field.
''They're the Super Bowl champs. Everybody wants to beat them obviously, and it doesn't ever change,'' kicker Adam Vinatieri said. ''They're a great team with a lot of great players and we have to go out there and play well.''
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