The Washington Times-Herald

Sports

December 24, 2011

Colts change miserable year with 2-game win streak

Indianapolis — Suddenly, the Colts don't look so bad.

After months of miserable performances, weeks of speculation about a winless season and countless hours debating who will and will not return, Indy has reversed course.

Two wins in five days, both against teams vying for playoff positions, has ended the talk about a historic 0-16 season and instead renewed debate over whether fans should root for Indy to win or lose next week at Jacksonville. A loss would almost certainly give Indy its biggest win of the season — the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. A win would probably cost them that No. 1 overall selection in the draft, though they would still be picking in the top three.

But that's not how players or coaches fighting for their jobs see it.

"I'm not certain if I've been around a group of guys, particularly when things haven't gone well for us, that will fight you like this group," coach Jim Caldwell said. "They will fight you right down to the last whistle, and I think, certainly, this team is creating its own identity here toward the end of the season."

It's about time.

For 13 weeks, nothing went right in Indianapolis (2-13).

Peyton Manning couldn't come back from neck surgery.

The defense couldn't hold leads.

The offense went more than 500 minutes without taking a lead and had three of the worst single-game yardage totals in franchise history.

On the rare occasion when the offense and defense actually played well enough together to win, the Colts' special teams broke down.

But just when it seemed as if 0-16 was a realistic possibility, the Colts shifted gears.

They yanked quarterback Curtis Painter, replacing him with journeyman Dan Orlovsky, who has won two straight after going 0-9 in his previous NFL starts. They changed defensive coordinators in the middle of the season. They got back to basics, and now, they have won twice.

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