"Defense is playing lights out, gaining a ton of momentum, a ton of confidence," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "Offense is gelling at the right time. Again, being able to get hot and play well in December and go 4-1 and go into the playoffs obviously with some momentum, some mojo, is hopefully going to work in our favor."
Little worked against Indianapolis on Sunday.
Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity involved a fourth-quarter sack credited to inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis grabbed Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne by the shoulder and turned him in the pocket. Henne struggled free and began tumbling forward. Freeman came in to wrap up the quarterback and finish the play.
"I told him I really appreciated that layup he gave me," Freeman said. "If they give it to him, I'm not going to argue that one. If they give him half, I'm not going to argue that one at all."
Each defender will be awarded half a sack in many similar situations, and it makes a big difference for Mathis. With two other sacks of Henne, he passed St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn for the league lead. But with a 19.5 total for the season, he's just half a sack shy of becoming the 10th player in NFL history to record 20 sacks in a single campaign.
True to form, Mathis isn't concerned with individual honors.
"It would be nice," he said of winning the sack title, "but a ring is better."
Mathis is referring, of course, to the bauble awarded to the Super Bowl champions each year.
The Colts' road to the NFL's championship game in New York City will begin next weekend at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Indianapolis scored a 23-7 victory at Kansas City two weeks ago but will take nothing for granted in the rematch.
"Every game is a bonus now so you really have to go in and prepare like any game could be your last game," Brown said. "This is what you play for. All the hard work throughout the year, this is what you play for is playoff time."