If there is a word that best describes the 2012 Indianapolis Colts, it just might be "resilient".
Give up a lot of points in road losses to Chicago, the New York Jets and New England, no problem. Lose a close game at home? Again, no problem.
Every time that the Colts have lost a game this year, they've battled back the next week to secure a much-needed win. Indianapolis is 4-0 is such week-after games. Not bad for a mostly young squad that is still learning about what life is like in the National Football League.
“Yeah, it just shows a lot about this team and this coaching staff. One thing is protecting home field. After a tough loss, sometimes a tough loss can carry over into the next week, But guys came in the next week just being focused," free safety Antoine Bethea said Sunday after the Colts' 20-13 win over Buffalo.
Bethea is one of the few veteran remaining on the Indianapolis roster, along with wide receiver Reggie Wayne, outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, defensive end Cory Redding, and strong safety Tom Zbikowski. Redding and Zbikowski are both new to the team, but not new to the NFL after playing the last several seasons in Baltimore.
“A very resilient team. A young team that’s guided by veteran leadership. Everybody’s all in all aboard and that’s what happens," Mathis added, not resisting a chance to tweak any and all prognosticators who had the Colts winning only a couple games this season.
“I guess that’s why you call them experts. We were picked to finish 1-15 and now [we're] sitting at 7-4.”
Redding says the secret, if there is one, to Indianapolis' ability to move past tough losses is to have a short memory.
“Being able to put any bad situation behind you very quick. You can’t let one loss turn into two. Definitely have to see and man up to your mistakes and go to work honestly trying to correct those mistakes and keep your team in mind so that they don’t happen again," he said Sunday.
"Guys responded well and leaders stepped up this week. Everybody else followed our lead and we just put together another good, solid win together to get No. 7 and keep us in the hunt.”
Hilton's big day -- Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton got off to a slow start during training camp due to some injury issues. But as the preseason and the regular-season has progressed, the former Florida International standout as continued to impress his coaches, teammates and fans.
Hilton caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown while also returning four punts for 11 yards and a TD. Not a bad day's work. In doing so, he became the first player in franchise history to score a touchdown receiving and returning a punt for a TD in the same game. Hilton is also the first Colts player to return a punt for a touchdown since T.J. Rushing did it against Oakland in 2007.
Interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians knew early on, despite the training camp injuries, that he had something special in Hilton.
“He flashed. He flashed as a slot receiver. But once you get a hold of a guy that is that quick and that fast and he’s got a football aptitude and this guy has seriousness about him, he wants to be good," Arians said.
"He reminds me a lot of [Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver] Antonio Brown. They’re from the same neighborhood. They’re friends, they have the same desire to be good and they take it very serious to be good. When you have those and God-given talent, you should be successful.”
Tackling machine -- Former Canadian Football League All-Star Jerrell Freeman is quickly making believers out of everybody who watches him play.
Freeman, who attended Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Texas, didn't get too many looks from NFL teams. He did get a tryout with the Tennessee Titans and impressed the coaching staff there, but became a casualty of roster cuts at the end of training camp. Freeman went on to play with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he caught the attention of the Colts' scouting department.
He's a big favorite of first-year general manager Ryan Grigson and was the first outside player to be signed to Grigson upon being named to his current post. Ever since Freeman moved into the starting lineup in the season-opener with Chicago, filling in for an injured Pat Angerer, all he's done is perform.