Reggie Wayne on 19-9 Win Over Chiefs: 'No Game is Easy'
Because while Wayne, the Indianapolis Colts' four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, said it is true that a 3-2 record isn't what the Colts wanted or expected after five weeks, something else is as true.
"It's still the NFL," Wayne said.
And Wayne said that means there's still time. A lot of time.
The Colts (3-2), the defending AFC and AFC South champions, pushed a game above .500 Sunday afternoon, doing so in a game that could have playoff implications at season's end, pulling away from the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) for a 19-9 victory in front of 66,869 at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
The Chiefs entered the game as the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team.
The Colts entered the game needing a victory after a road loss at Jacksonville last week, and while the theme of many post-game questions was about the Colts not seeming quite what they were last season en route to victories in their first 14 games, quarterback Peyton Manning said that's not the team's concern.
"We are kind of where we are," said Manning, who did not throw a touchdown for the first time this season, completing 26 of 44 passes for 244 yards with an interception. "There's going to be some unknown. We've had a lot of shuffling around. Every week it's like it is in the NFL: we're just trying to do what we have to do that week to win. I guess people want to compare it to previous seasons, and what we've done in this phase of our offense.
"That's something we're really not doing. We're just trying to form the identity of this team and that will progress throughout the season."
The Colts this season lost their regular-season opener, 34-24, then beat the New York Giants (38-14) and the Denver Broncos (27-13) in Weeks 2 and 3 before losing to Jacksonville when kicker Josh Scobee converted a 59-yard field goal on the game's final play.
That win moved the Colts to 2-2 for just the second time since 2001.
"Fans really don't see the Colts 2-2, and we don't panic ourselves," Colts running back Joseph Addai said. "We might have people that kind of get scared or whatever, but we understand that we have to go back to the basics. So, we had the offense playing for the defense, defense playing for the offense (and) special teams is playing for everybody. It's kind of let's lean on each other and get this win for each other."
The Chiefs on Sunday played very much like an unbeaten team, holding the Colts without a touchdown until 4:02 remaining. That was when Colts running back Mike Hart -- playing for injured starter Addai -- pushed through the line, breaking tackles on an 11-yard that secured the Colts' victory.
The Chiefs stayed close before Hart's touchdown by limiting the Colts to four field goals by kicker Adam Vinatieri, the last of which was a 42-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Manning and Colts coach Jim Caldwell each said the Chiefs played essentially as the Colts expected them to -- using multiple defensive back formations and forcing the Colts to be patient with shorter passes and runs offensively.
But while the Chiefs prevented the Colts from scoring in the red zone until the final four minutes, the Colts were equally effective defensively, holding the Chiefs to 113 yards rushing and 156 yards passing, and limiting Kansas City to one field goal on two trips into the red zone.
Wayne said what mattered Sunday wasn't statistics, but about getting a victory -- and getting one at home. Indianapolis, which hasn't lost a meaningful game at Lucas Oil Stadium since early 2008, are 2-0 at home this season, after the Tennessee Titans' victory over the Dallas Cowboys late Sunday afternoon, they are in a four-way, all-team tie atop the AFC South.
That is a place the Colts are used to being, having won six of the past seven AFC South titles. And even if they're not used to sharing the lead, Wayne said the reality is that unbeaten starts such as last season's aren't the norm -- and that difficult victories such as Sunday's are not only OK, they're sometimes the foundation on which seasons are built.
"We're 2-2 (entering Sunday's game) -- you might say it's unfamiliar territory, but don't get spoiled," Wayne said. "No game is easy. It's a situation we've been in before, but just not normally. We know what we have to do. A lot of the older guys are telling the younger guys, just keep chopping wood, just keep pushing and it's all going to work out for us.
"This was a great game for us to rely on all three phases to get the job done."