While the sting of defeat may still be with their fans, the Indianapolis Colts can be proud of all they accomplished throughout their 2012 season. Since reconstructing their entire organization, the Colts have been under a microscope of analysis. When the season began, most believed the Colts would be better than last year but would not be relevant this year. Despite the drastic changes and the many obstacles placed in front of them, the Colts were determined to prove everyone wrong - and that they did.
As they had been all season, the Colts were tested with yet another surprise. On game day, defensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, was hospitalized due to an episode involving nausea and severe headache. Arians had not only been the play caller all season, but served as interim head coach in Chuck Pagano's absence. Luckily, the Colts could rely on quarterbacks coach, Clyde Christensen, who has offensive coordinator experience under his belt.
It is difficult for any team to come into Baltimore and win a game against the Ravens. Not only does Baltimore have an excellent team, the fans are dedicated and energetic. Sunday was no different. In fact, M&T Bank Stadium was probably louder than usual.
There has always been an intense rivalry between Indianapolis and Baltimore, made more competitive when the Colts acquired coach Pagano from the Ravens. And, of course, it was Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis' last home game before retirement.
Despite his valiant effort, QB Andrew Luck was not able to get the ball into the end zone. Instead, the Colts had to rely on the accuracy of their kicker, Adam Vinatieri. Luck finished the game completing 28 of 54 of his passes for 288 yards and one interception. Vinatieri put the ball through the uprights 3 of his 4 field goal attempts.
The Ravens dominated the game from beginning to end, never letting go of their lead. WR Anquan Boldin and RB Bernard Pierce were their biggest threats. Anquan racked up 145 yards and a touchdown while Pierce ran for 103 yards over the Colts defense.
The Colts may have come short in the playoffs but they certainly have a lot to be proud of this season. This young team has overcome a number of obstacles with the utmost class. From releasing their start quarterback, Peyton Manning, to reconstructing their entire organization, the Colts have gone through many changes. When Pagano was sidelined with his leukemia diagnosis, the Colts did not give up. Rather, they chose to fight harder than they already had been fighting.
When everyone doubted their relevancy, the Colts came together as a family and decided they would not be defined by others' predictions. The road was long and the battle was tough, but in the end they reached a goal no one thought they could. Not only did they completely turn their record around in one season, Indianapolis made it to the playoffs.
With so many new players, most still very young, the Colts gained a great deal of experience that will only help them in the future. The rookies have a taste of the intensity the playoffs bring. They know what winning feels like. Those young players learned very early in their career that you can accomplish anything if you exude strength and fortitude. The bar has been set for greatness, something they now know is not predetermined, but earned. So in the end, the 2012 Colts are truly winners.