Eye on a bye: The Colts will win the AFC South unless they completely collapse and Tennessee wins out. Neither is going to happen. The next goal for Indianapolis is to get the second seed (Denver will likely finish with the top seed) so that it can have a bye in the first weekend of the playoffs. The Colts have a chance to improve their odds of reaching that goal if they can go on the road and beat the Cincinnati Bengals next weekend. The Colts and Bengals have identical 8-4 records, but Indianapolis owns the tiebreaker because it has a better winning percentage in the conference. "We have to go to Cincinnati with a good game plan and stop that run, get on the quarterback and make something happen," Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding said. New England currently holds the second seed at 9-3.
Still kicking strong: Just as he's been throughout his 18-year career, kicker Adam Vinatieri was Mr. Reliable for the Colts. He was a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals and had an extra point to give him 16 points for the game. The five field goals tied Vinatieri's career high and the Colts' franchise record. He's got 100 points on the season, which ties him with Jason Elam for most 100-point seasons in NFL history with 16. "To have a security blanket like that, it makes a big difference, it really does," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "When we're struggling like that and can't put a touchdown on the board early, to have that really keeps that momentum going for you."
Staying positive: Running back Trent Richardson was the focal point of the lineup shakeup on Sunday because the Colts gave up a first-round pick to acquire him from Cleveland in September. But the player who deserves credit is Donald Brown, and it's not because he scored the touchdown to put the Colts up eight points late in the fourth quarter. It's because he constantly stayed professional and was ready to play when called upon despite being the third running back on the depth chart not once, but twice this season. Now he's starting. Brown had only 8 yards on eight carries until the Colts' final offensive series. The former first-round pick had 46 yards on six carries on the final drive. "Donnie earned the opportunity [to start] the way he was working and running the football," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Still perfect: Pagano and Luck can still say they've yet to lose back-to-back games as an NFL head coach and quarterback. The Colts have gone 28 games without losing consecutive games under Pagano. The 28 games ties for the fifth-longest streak by an Indianapolis head coach. The Colts still have road games at Cincinnati and Kansas City, but the games are split up by Houston in the middle, so they've got a chance to complete two straight seasons without losing back-to-back games.