For a handful of players, this isn't a situation that they're used to. This is the first time that the Colts will have three straight non-winning seasons since 1989-91. They have eight players still on the roster who have been a part of all three seasons. The Colts are facing the stark reality that they're the worst team in the AFC South, a division they once reigned as they looked down at everybody else.
"It's real, real frustrating," Vinatieri said. "I had a coach once tell me you finish where you're supposed to finish. It feels like there's so many times where we could have won games and didn't."
While the Colts aren't officially eliminated from playoff contention just yet, they are on their way to missing the postseason for the third straight year. They've dropped six of their past seven games, and their three wins this season have come against teams with a combined record of 6-29.
"We had a heck of a run [in the playoffs] for three years, and two 8-8s, and now we're sitting where we're sitting," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "It's unacceptable, and every guy in that locker room will tell you that. We don't come to work to lose. We don't do that. It's unacceptable, and they would tell you that. We don't want to be where we're at, but we are. So, you deal with it. You deal with adversity and circumstances that will prepare you for the next one. So, that's what we're going to do."
The futures of such older players as Butler, Vinatieri and Frank Gore with the Colts is uncertain; all three will be free agents at season's end, and the youth movement has started. What has been frustrating to them has been the number of games they've been in, only to come up on the losing end when it was all said and done.
"Very tough," Butler said. "Never want to get used to losing. This organization has been very fortunate and a very winning organization. We have to find a way to get back those winning ways. I've been part of this team that has won 16 [AFC South] games in row.
"That's kind of unheard of, now being on this side of it."
The Colts have lost six of the nine games in which they've led or been tied at halftime this season. Good teams find a way to win more than they lose in those situations. The Colts, based off their 3-9 record, aren't a good team, and it's unknown how long it'll take them to even become an average team.
"You can't sit back and wondering why things happen to us, because that kind of sounds like a whiny, pitiful mentality I think," Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle said. "That's life -- tough times come. It's how you respond., and we have to do a better job of keep responding and improving."