INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis has found a game plan that works.
The offense is starting faster and staying on the field longer. The defense is shutting down opponents and forcing miscues. And the wins are starting to pile up again.
It's about time the Colts get it right — and perhaps just in time to build some momentum for a playoff run.
"Teams who've won the Super Bowl in the past got hot at certain points in the season. They had their difficult times. They had parts where they were losing," defensive end Cory Redding said Monday.
"If you look at the Ravens last year, they were playing great. Middle of the season, they started getting injured. Then they went into a slump and then man, got to the playoffs and got hot. Look what they did."
The Colts (10-5) are convinced they can follow the same blueprint this season, something that certainly looks more feasible now than it did two weeks ago when they clinched the AFC South despite a loss at Cincinnati.
Back then, Indy was in the midst of a six-game stretch in which it had been outscored 114-24 in the first half and allowed 38 or more points in three losses. Frustrated fans were convinced all those problems would lead to yet another early playoff exit.
Now, most of those fears have subsided thanks to lopsided wins over reeling Houston 25-3 at home, and a far more impressive 23-7 victory at playoff-bound Kansas City.
The defense is getting off the field on the third downs, has allowed just one touchdown and forced six turnovers over the past eight quarters and for the first time all season has been pressuring quarterbacks with someone other than AFC sacks leader Robert Mathis.
Indy's offense, which struggled mightily after Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne went down with a season-ending knee injury, also has regained its footing.