Colts streak into playoffs
Indy confident after three consecutive victories
Updated: Tuesday December 26, 2000 11:03 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The hard part for the Indianapolis Colts this year was supposed to be the playoffs -- not the regular season.
The Colts were most experts' pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Instead, the Colts needed a little luck and a hot streak to get in.
They got both, ending the season with a three-game winning streak capped off by a 31-10 victory against Minnesota to finish the season 10-6.
Even with an 11-game winning streak last year, the Colts lost the season finale to Buffalo and dropped a playoff game to Tennessee.
Head coach Jim Mora said the team's confidence was probably as high now as it was at the end of last season.
"We have more of an upbeat, positive feeling than coming off a big loss last year in the Buffalo game," Mora said. "We won 13 games, though. Certainly our confidence level wasn't down. I thought we had a chance to win that sucker."
The Colts appeared to have blown their playoff spot after a 27-17 loss to the Jets on Dec. 3. The loss was their third in a row and their fourth in five games.
To get into the playoffs, Indianapolis had to win its final three games, the Jets had to lose all three and Miami (11-5) had to lose two.
Amazingly, it all happened.
The Colts played with a sense of purpose Sunday and broke some records in the process.
Running back Edgerrin James set five team single-season records, including the rushing record of 1,709 yards and most yards from scrimmage with 2,303. Quarterback Peyton Manning broke his own club record in passing with a league-leading 4,135 yards, and wide receiver Marvin Harrison became the fifth receiver in NFL history to have 100 receptions in successive seasons. He also tied the 41-year-old team record for touchdowns, with 14.
"Certainly it's better that we've won. Three weeks ago, we didn't feel real pleased about how things were going," Mora said.
"Now, we're ending the regular season on a high note with a feeling that we've battled back, gotten into the playoffs, and given ourselves a chance to win some more games."
Players were off Monday, but coaches were in by 11 a.m. getting ready for Saturday's playoff game against Miami. They weren't planning to leave until nearly midnight.
The Dolphins may be fairly easy for the Colts to scout, since the teams have played each other twice in the last month.
"A lot of it is repetitive," Mora said. "We didn't show the last Miami game to our players. We gave them that Monday off. That's something we'll do tomorrow."
The Dolphins won the first game at the RCA Dome when Damon Huard connected on a 17- yard touchdown pass to Oronde Gadsden with 1:10 left to seal a 17-14 victory.
In the second meeting, James ran for 112 yards in a 20-13 win.
"When you play a team, then go back and look at the film, there's normally an increase of what we could have done, or what we shouldn't have done. You learn from game experience, and we'll certainly have learned from the last couple of times we played them."
This is the second consecutive year each team has won close games on the other's home turf. Last year, the Dolphins won at the Dome 34-31, while the Colts answered with a 37-34 victory later in the season.
"We've had two very hard, tough, close games with them, and I expect this next one to be the same type of game. They're an excellent defensive team, and a sound offensive one," Mora said.