INDIANAPOLIS — Emotions figure to be at a high level when the Indianapolis Colts take the field for Sunday's regular-season home finale with Houston.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, who has missed the last 12 games as he underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments for a form of leukemia, will be back on the sidelines.
"It’s going to be awesome. Anytime you’re taken away, 28 years I knew exactly where I was supposed to be and where I was in the fall, and certainly it wasn’t at home. I just wasn’t used to that. So being able to get back, we targeted this day and being able to get back and rejoining the team and run out with the team, make it back for the final home game and then into the playoffs is a true blessing," Pagano said Friday.
"It’s going to be a great day for everybody else. We’ve got business to take care of. The main focus obviously is the Texans and winning this football game. But I’m ecstatic obviously and feel very, very blessed to get back."
This week's game with Houston (12-3) was the target date for Pagano's potential return. When it was announced that the first-year head coach was ill and would be taking an extended leave of absence from the team prior to the Colts' Oct. 7 home game with Green Bay, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the goal would be to extend the season so that Pagano would be able to coach again.
At the time, with Indianapolis off to a 1-2 start and facing a tough Packers squad, nobody gave Indianapolis much of a chance to make good on Arians' game plan. But lo and behold, here are the Colts heading into the Houston game with a 10-5 record and the No. 5 seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs all sewn up.