INDIANAPOLIS - While a good number of NFL fans remember the AFC Championship as the night Tom Brady and the Patriots were allegedly altering air pressure of game balls, the Indianapolis Colts have an entirely different memory of that 45-7 loss at Gillette Stadium as they head into this Sunday’s rematch, this time at Lucas Oil Stadium
“It certainly was an embarrassing defeat,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “You don’t want to be associated with those types of losses. As far as motivation, I think if you need motivation from a past game to go out and play a football game, I don’t know, that’s probably wrong in my mind. We go out to win every time, at least personally. Every game is a challenge no matter if you play the team before or not or what happened before. We all have our own motivation, but in my mind, sure you don’t want to be associated with a loss like that in the past but I don’t know if it has that much bearing on this week.”
Matt Hasselbeck, who’s both started and won the last two games as Luck recovers from a shoulder injury, believes the Colts don’t think about Deflategate, rather the beatdown they absorbed in a decidedly one-sided game from start to finish
“It was a reminder of us getting embarrassed on national TV in the AFC Championship game,” he said. “They took it to us in that game and played great, and we played terrible and so every time - I would say in this locker room - every time that game gets brought up, it’s not something we want to think about or talk about.”
“They just flat out outplayed us the whole stretch of the way,” said linebacker D’qwell Jackson. “We were in that game for a blink of an eye.”
Now maybe that loss has no impact on what happens Sunday night in Indy. These two teams have had the usual offseason personnel turnover. But maybe the anger that exists in Foxborough will be unleashed on the Colts and their fans in a game that the entire country will be tuning in to see.
“We know it’s going to be a dogfight,” said Jackson. “Right now we’re trending in the right direction. We’ve been playing well as of late. We’re finally getting some guys back from injury. So to address the elephant in the room, this is the game where we’re going to see each other later down the road. It has implications on the playoffs, whether home or away. So guys are aware of it but if you start to do things differently than what you’ve done in weeks past it’s going to throw you off. So the main thing for all the players, coaches, everyone involved – stay the course, do what you’ve been doing and let’s go out and play on Sunday.”
“I don’t know how they operate,” Hasselbeck said. “They are one of the great enigmas of our league. They always find a way to win. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their success and how they get it done year after year. They always get it done. This is a team, they are the toughest game on your schedule.”
They have been, for well over a decade now. And they have been a massive thorn in the Colts side, winning 4 straight over Andrew Luck’s Colts, but way before that, tormenting Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy and the almost-great Indy teams of the past decade. If you know how the powers that be feel at Patriot Place, you know they’d love nothing more than to keep this run going, with Sunday night the logical continuation of this latest chapter.