Colts ready to put road winning streak on line at Black Hole
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts are getting comfortable on the road.
They've won four straight on other teams' home fields, the past two by a combined 75-16.
They've already dealt big blows to two playoff contenders, Green Bay and Minnesota, and will try to derail Oakland's hopes of earning a first-round bye on Saturday.
It still may not be enough for Indy to salvage its playoff hopes.
''We understand exactly where we're at and our focus is on one thing and one thing only and that's to get this W,'' coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday.
''We know it's a huge challenge and a tall order against a great football team on the road. But we can't worry about small chances and this, that and the other. We've got to go play.''
These days, playing anywhere outside the confines of Lucas Oil Stadium looks like a plus even if they must visit one of the NFL's least friendly venues, the dreaded Black Hole.
Some, such as punter Pat McAfee, have already experienced the unique atmosphere Raiders fans enjoy creating.
When McAfee played in Oakland in 2010, he remembers being greeted by a heckler dressed in spikes who was giving him grief about an arrest for public intoxication.
As McAfee recalls, the fan started chanting DUI until McAfee explained he wasn't driving. Then the fan changed the chant to DUS, which McAfee said didn't work as the fan tried to call him out for his alleged overnight swim in a local canal.
Others, such as eight-year veteran Darius Butler, are eager to see if the Oakland crowd lives up to the hype with so much at stake. The Raiders lead Kansas City by one game in the AFC West.
But strangely, these are the exactly elements in which the Colts (7-7) have thrived lately.
''I'm really not sure why we have such great games on the road and come out flat at home,'' McAfee said. ''I think there's an energy in the stands that we feed off, it's kind of us against the world.''
Whatever the explanation, the numbers prove it.
After blowing out the Vikings 34-6 last weekend, Indy assured itself of another non-losing road record. In Pagano's five seasons as coach, the Colts have never finished worse than 4-4 away from home and a win this weekend would make them 5-3 on the road for the third time in four years.
At home, it's been a different story.
The Colts blew a lead in the final 35 seconds and lost to Detroit in the season opener, ended October with a poor showing in a home loss to Kansas City and squandered a chance to take control of the AFC South with an uninspiring loss to Houston on Dec. 11.
Those three losses could be the difference between making the postseason and missing the playoffs for the second straight season, something that hasn't happened in Indy since 1997-98.
The Colts head into the weekend one game behind Houston and Tennessee in the division race and would be eliminated this weekend with a win by either the Texans or Titans.
What's the reason for the disparity?
''I don't know,'' Andrew Luck said. ''I'm not sure we can explain it and I'm not sure it ever can be explained.''
So the only option Indy has this weekend is to win at Oakland (11-3) and hope for the best.
''On the road, you've got to pack your defense and pack your run game, especially this time of year,'' Butler said. ''I've never been to Oakland, but I know they have a passionate fan base and I've heard a lot of stories about them.''
Notes: Pagano is unsure whether right guard Denzelle Good (concussion) or right tackle Joe Reitz (back) will play this week. Both missed the game at Minnesota. ... Receiver Donte Moncrief (hamstring) did limited work at Tuesday's practice. Pagano also isn't sure whether he'll play Saturday, either. ... Indy signed defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles to the practice squad on Tuesday.
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