The Colts have wrapped up an incredible season by beating the Houston Texans this weekend with Coach Chuck Pagano back at the helm. The team and fans are now getting ready for the playoffs.
For the 11-5 Colts, that means preparing for next Sunday's playoff game in Baltimore against the Ravens in the AFC wildcard round.
Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim swung the game with a 101-yard kickoff return in the third quarter Sunday, giving the Colts a 28-16 victory over Houston. It was Pagano's first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukemia Sept. 26.
The team's success has delighted fans, who didn't have high hopes for the young team.
Now fans have been busy buying up jerseys at the Colts Pro Shop featuring names they hadn't heard of until a few months ago.
JD Burns never imagined he'd be smiling by playoffs time this season.
"I was down in the dumps when I heard Peyton was leaving. I was like - nooo! Then Luck comes around and he's just awesome right out of the box," said Burns, who was at the Colts Pro Shop Monday. "You gotta love it!"
Fans weren't pessimistic so much as realistic after a dismal season without their star quarterback last year.
"I didn't expect the Colts to do as great as they did," said Lisa Winstead. "I didn't. And I'm thrilled that they did! It's been a fairy tale season."
Indeed, some fairy tales are more believable than the Colt's comeback tale. Consider the following:
Last year's disastrous season.
The departure of Peyton "the almighty" Manning.
Rookie Andrew Luck, leading players no one had ever heard of.
And a new coach, stricken with cancer.
All culminating with a locker room celebration and a wild card run into the playoffs.
More than Andrew Luck, and plain old luck, this a team that doesn't know what it can't accomplish.
To opponents, the Colts have grown into the monster Coach Pagano promised.
To fans, they are friends facing adversity and winning more than foot ball games.
Kim Donahue is a fan and lecturer at IU's Kelley School of business.
"They win the hearts and the soul, not of only Indianapolis, they make us all believers they also got the country behind them," she said with a big smile.
And how often does that happen? "Never!!" she answered. "It doesn't happen. It is so rare."
And so wonderful and still leaving fans hanging on for the ending. Now the plot really thickens.
The Colts head to Baltimore to play the Ravens Sunday.
It's city that still despises Indianapolis almost 30 years after their Colts stampeded out of town.
Adding insult to injury, Chuck Pagano left the Ravens and Baltimore 11 months ago to become head coach of the Indianapolis coach.
Hollywood can't make this up.
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