Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell didn’t change a thing.
Caldwell, in his first season as the Colts’ head coach, talked throughout the season of consistency and focus, and very definitely not getting caught up in distractions.
So, this week, while the Jets talked brashly, and while media locally and nationally dug for storylines, Caldwell said the Colts’ focus remained the same.
“Our guys have worked extremely hard,” Caldwell said Friday morning, a little more than 48 hours before the AFC South Champion Colts (15-2) will play host to the New York Jets (11-7) in the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 3 p.m.
“They’re preparing well . . . I feel good right now. We’ve had two real good practices. I’m not certain any coach wouldn’t (feel good) at this time. You know me: I’m a big believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. (There’s) the old Chinese proverb: ‘Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’
“I believe in what we do.”
The Colts, playing Sunday to go the Super Bowl for a second time in four seasons and a fourth time in franchise history, are 1-1 in AFC Championship Games this decade, and this will be their first in which they have not played the New England Patriots. They lost to the Patriots, 24-14, in Foxboro, Mass., in the title game following the 2003 season.
The Colts, who also lost the AFC title game in Pittsburgh, 20-16, following the 1995 season, won the championship game the only other time it was held in Indianapolis.
That was following the 2006 season, when they beat New England, 38-34.
“It’s all about getting to this point,” Colts four-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, who has started 15 postseason games in 11 seasons with the Colts. “Now is the fun time. This is what you build up for. You win the 14 games during the regular season to get to this point.
“You get one playoff game under your belt and hopefully we’re going for our second one on Sunday.”
Caldwell, who spent seven years as a Colts assistant before becoming the first rookie head coach to win his first 14 games this season, was asked on Friday about his message to the team Sunday.
“It’s not going to be real complicated, and it’s not going to be real lofty in terms of our ideas,” Caldwell said. “What we try to do is give them a message early in the week, Wednesday morning, and that message usually is sort of summed with three words.
“You talk about those three things and we’ll send them out on the field and go work like we always do.”
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said the essence of the message was basic.
“I think the biggest thing was that you know what? You’ve got one more game until we get to the big one,” Freeney said. “Let’s just do things how we’ve always done it. Obviously, yeah, this game is a big game, AFC Championship.
“But if we keep on doing the things that we do on a consistent basis, we should be fine.”
Caldwell said the Colts’ focus “is on us.”
“I have to deal with what we do and what we focus in on,” he said. “We’re just trying to get ourselves better prepared, better equipped, (be) a better team than we were last week. That is the thing we have to do; we have to keep getting better.”
And with two days remaining before the title game, Caldwell said a simple approach is all that’s necessary.
“We try to narrow it down to that,” he said. “I know this is your (the media’s) job. You guys have to look at things and try to expound upon situations and try to make them a bit grand in terms of how you describe the things. For us, for me, we try to narrow this thing down as small as we possibly can and really look at the things that matter. All of the other stuff doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how I reflect on my past and my 30-some years of coaching before. That doesn’t matter.
“What matters is what we do right now in preparation for winning this game. So we narrow it down as tight as we possibly can, and I try not to deviate from that.”
Quoting the Colts . . .
* QB Peyton Manning. Here.
* Head Coach Jim Caldwell, C Jeff Saturday, TE Dallas Clark. Here.
* RB Joseph Addai, LB Clint Session, S Antoine Bethea. Here.
COLTS NEEDN’T REGRET NOT ELIMINATING THE JETS. HERE.
Reviewing Colts President Bill Polian’s weekly radio show . . .
* No apologies necessary. Here.
* Caldwell deserved Coach of the Year Honor. Here.
* Fans critical to victory over Baltimore. Here.
* Extraordinary season. Here.
Quoting the Indianapolis Colts . . .
* Head Coach Jim Caldwell and QB Peyton Manning. Here.
* WR Reggie Wayne and MLB Gary Brackett. Here.
* DE Dwight Freeney, WR Austin Collie and CB Kelvin Hayden. Here.
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. ON THE HEALTH OF THE COLTS AND THE RB SITUATION. HERE
POPULAR OR NOT, COLTS EARNED RIGHT TO CHOOSE LATE-SEASON APPROACH. HERE.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS OWNER JIM IRSAY SUPPORTED DECISION AGAINST JETS. HERE.
AN UNBEATEN SEASON THAT WASN’T: A FINAL LOOK AT AN UNRESOLVABLE CONFLICT. HERE
FREENEY: PRO BOWL NEVER GETS OLD. HERE
TE DALLAS CLARK, QB PEYTON MANNING AMONG SIX PRO BOWLERS FOR COLTS. HERE.
DOES PEYTON MANNING GET TOO MUCH RESPECT? HERE
POLIANS’ CONTRACTS EXTENDED. HERE
COLTS FANS OWE RB JOSEPH ADDAI AN APOLOGY. HERE
*** CATCH UP WITH ALL THINGS COLTS ON INDY FOOTBALL REPORT. HERE
*** READ JOHN OEHSER’S INDIANA PACERS COVERAGE. HERE.
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