Colts' Confidence Rising After Playoff Push
K Adam Vinatieri (AP/Michael Conroy)
K Adam Vinatieri (AP/Michael Conroy)

Posted Jan 3, 2011


The marathon run of four straight wins needed to win a seventh AFC South crown and make a record-setting ninth straight trip to the postseason is over. The Colts put themselves behind the eight-ball with some early-and mid-season struggles, but finished strong in the month of December and appear to be a team on a bit of a roll.

To be sure, the Colts regular-season finale win over the Tennessee Titans was far from a work of art. But it was a win and - coupled with Kansas City's surprising loss to Oakland - gives Indianapolis the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs.

Coach Jim Caldwell's crew will face the New York Jets in an AFC wildcard weekend playoff meeting Saturday evening (8 p.m. ET) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"You certainly hope you can build a little bit (off the Titans win)," quarterback Peyton Manning said afterward. "There is no question that (the Tennessee game) was one that we wanted to win. I do believe (in momentum).

"It is certainly how you played that week that matters, but it is a better feeling during the (next) week. I do think your practices are better coming off a win. So that is a positive thing. But everything is even starting Saturday."

Running back Joseph Addai is happy to be playing the Jets in a home game for purely personal reasons.

"I'm happy that we don't have to play in the cold," Addai joked. "But the record is now 0-0 regardless of who we are playing. We've got that fresh start. The regular season is over. We've got the postseason now.

"I think we have come together as a team. That's the big thing. We were able to step up and just keep on trying to win games. We were able to do that and control what we could control. In tough times, we came together."

TRENDING: The Colts' run defense had another outstanding performance, limiting Tennessee's Chris Johnson to just 39 yards in 20 carries. As a team, Indianapolis allowed the Titans 51 total yards in 24 rushing attempts for an average of 2.1 yards per carry.

Over the final three weeks of the regular season, the Colts held Jacksonville, Oakland and Tennessee without a 100-yard rusher.

"The defense did a great job of stopping the run. That's a tribute to those guys. They did a nice job of putting it all together and did a tremendous job of keeping one of the best (running backs) in the league under control," Caldwell said.

LINEUP WATCH: WR Blair White continues to make big plays for the Colts when needed the most.

White, an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, has stepped in to help fill the gap left by injuries to starters Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez.

He had four catches against the Titans for 51 yards, including a big 20-yard reception that set up the game-winning 43-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired.

White had key catches in three of the Colts' scoring drives in the division-clinching win over Tennessee. He ended the regular season with 36 receptions for 355 yards and five touchdowns.

PLAYER NOTES

— QB Peyton Manning passed his own franchise record for single-season passing yards. Manning threw for 4,700 yards in 2010. His previous high was 4,557 yards in 2004. His 4,700 yards ranks the 10th best single-season performance in NFL history.

Manning finished the Tennessee game by completing 27-of-41 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

— Manning set the NFL single season record for the most completions in a season, edging New Oreleans QB Drew Brees in the process. The Colts signal caller ended the year with 450 pass completions, two ahead of Brees' total of 448, which he has set earlier Sunday.

— Manning has won 10 games in a year 11 times, surpassing Brett Favre for the most 10-plus victory seasons in the Super Bowl era.

— With 11 points Sunday, PK Adam Vinatieri became the 7th kicker in NFL history to score 500 or more points with two different teams.

— DE Dwight Freeney recorded his seventh career season with 10 or more sacks. It was also his third straight season with 10 or more sacks.

— WR Reggie Wayne set a career-high with 111 receptions this year, surpassing the 104 catches in 2007. Wayne recorded his 69th career touchdown catch, slipping past former Colts Hall of Famer Raymond Berry for second all-time in franchise history.

— S Al Afalava (ankle), CB Kelvin Hayden (neck), RB Mike Hart (ankle) RB Javarris James, LB Clint Session (elbow), OG Jacques McClendon, OT Jaimie Thomas (ankle), DT Daniel Muir (chest) were all inactive.


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