A lot has changed for the Indianapolis Colts since a 22-17 home-field loss to Jacksonville on Sept. 23.
That's the only game the Jaguars have won this season and they are 1-7 on the year. Indianapolis, meanwhile, has posted wins in four of its last five games and is rolling along with a 5-3 record.
Many Colts point to that loss to Jacksonville in the third week of the season as a turning point. Indianapolis led 14-3 at the half and was ahead 14-13 after three quarters.
The Colts even led 17-16 with 45 seconds remaining in the game. That's when Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert connected with speedy wide receiver Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard pass play that resulted in the final margin of victory.
If not for that last-second score by the Jaguars, Indianapolis could very well be coming into Thursday's night's nationally televised meeting with a 6-2 record.
Not bad for a team that some observers figured would be lucky to match last year's 2-14 mark after massive roster realignment.
The Colts are feeling pretty good about themselves right now.
Indianapolis has won three straight, including last week's 23-20 victory over Miami, and posted its first road game of the year two weeks ago at Tennessee.
Interim coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, though, doesn't foresee the Colts getting too carried away with the win over the Dolphins.
"It was a huge win. Then to have (coach) Chuck (Pagano) in the locker room before and after the game was great. We have to learn from the last time we had an emotional win (a 30-27 over Green Bay on Oct. 7)," Arians said.
"We got our brains beat out. I'll remind them of that. The short weeks are always tough on both teams, especially the one that's traveling. We have to be able to focus, get focused on practice, meetings, extra meeting time. It's not a physical week. It's all a mental week."
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck continues to maintain that the Colts haven't really done anything yet. Arians agrees, adding that he expects Indianapolis to face a fired-up Jaguars team this week.
"If we don't get their best shot, I'll be shocked. They have a lot of pride in Jacksonville," the Indianapolis assistant coach said.
"(Jaguars coach) Mike Mularkey is a hell of a coach. I've known him for a long time. We're going to get everything they've got, both barrels. We had better be ready for it."
The secret to the Colts' current run of success is rather simple, according to Arians.
"We're playing hard," he said. "I think one thing, we have a lot of young guys who have bought into the system. They're playing hard, playing for 60 minutes.
"We don't take a bad play and let it get to the next play. Go on to the next play. They've all bought in, and they have each other's back."
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