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Indianapolis Colts Postgame Quotes 12/18

Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Frank Reich, Quarterback Carson Wentz and select players comment on their 27-17 win over the New England Patriots on Saturday, December 18, 2021.

HEAD COACH FRANK REICH

Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, December 18, 2021

Opening Statement:
"Okay, nothing to report on the injury front. Great team win. I mean, great team win going up against the number one, who is right now, the number one team in the AFC. Obviously, coached by a legend. They've earned their right and respect that they've gotten. Our guys came ready to play. We played well in all three phases. It wasn't perfect in any phase, but when you're playing the best team in the league, that's the way you got to win football games. We played very well, the way we physically played upfront was great. Special teams played huge, defense has really been dominant. Really happy with the how the defense is playing, really happy with how we're running the ball. Had some long drives today. Well done by the team."

The first touchdown, that play, can you take us through where you got it?

"You owe me $20."

That was not the Philly Special.

"Someone told me that you Tweeted that if we scored on a Philly Special – I'm not kidding you Bob (Kravitz). When we put that in, I thought about you. I said, 'I'm telling Bob he owes me $20. This is a version of the Philly Special."

Is that right?

"That's a version of it. So, there you go."

Did you sense the big run coming at the end there or did that surprise you?

"No, it didn't surprise me, but you never know. They're so well coached, right? What I've seen over and over again is that if you can you just keep pounding them and pounding them. With the offensive line you pound them, with the backs you pound them. Over the years, that I've been doing this, it just breaks. It takes one guy on the defense to get in the wrong gap. There was some discussion right there. I almost called a pass feeling like we got to make a first down here. I said no, I'm calling one more run. Talked it over with the staff, Marcus (Brady). Said no, let's just call one more run and then Jonathan (Taylor), it just popped."

As you see Jonathan Taylor make that cut and get past Dont'a Hightower, what's going through your mind?

"I'm thinking there's no way anybody's catching him. There's no way anybody's catching him. If I remember, we're typically in what I call 'church mode' right there, where, he could have gone down at the one. They told me up top a second late. They told me up top a second late, when they said, 'hey, we should be in church mode here.' I said, too late. Too late. Thank goodness, right? I'm glad he got the touchdown. Keeps his streak alive. So, that's a good thing."

You went for it on fourth down a few times. That last one was kind of a tossup whether you go for it or not, what were you seeing there or feeling?

"I was feeling like we got the offensive line and the quarterback to do it and you have to be aggressive. Have to be aggressive. I know it's only half a yard but we were in minus territory, I think, on two of those. Just felt like - we talked about it with George Li and John Park, our analytics guys. We talk these scenarios through all the time. I just kind of had my mind made up that if it was a half-yard or less, we were going no matter what, no matter where it was. Just thought that's what it would take to win the game."

To win a game like this with that kind of pass line, what's your takeaway from that?

"My takeaway is I'm fired up about it. I'm so happy about it. Great defense and great run game. You know the time that we've been here, I'm not worried about being dynamic in the passing game. I have zero worries about the passing production today. We've proven that over four years that we can be dynamic in the pass game but what we need to prove, is we can win games like this. With great defense and running the football."

What did you see from your defense coming off the bye week to look as good as they did to start the game?

"I felt it for about three or four weeks now, like our defense is literally – I can't explain it, but we're getting better. Like, I can tangibly feel it in every area, every player. The way we're game planning it, the way we're calling it, the way we're playing it. I can feel it's getting better and better. We're adjusting as the year is going on to what we're doing right, how our players are playing and they're playing their techniques, they're reading it great, we're playing it great, we're making plays. Really, really happy with the direction our defense is going."

You start 1-4, a week or so ago you were on the outside, now you're the fifth seed in the AFC. What has impressed you over the past month or so?

"I'm not surprised, our players aren't surprised. There's a lot of belief and a lot of conviction in that we have the guys, we have the coaches, we have the process. We say our MO from the start is, if that's really true, then we'll play our best football in November and December. We'll keep getting better, we'll learn from our mistakes, and we'll play our best football in November and December. We had a tough schedule early on, we didn't play well enough. We didn't coach well enough and we've learned from it and continued to get better. We're the five seed, we got to win every one of these games. What we said in there was, hey, this is a great team win but this counts for one. It counts for one, that's it. So, we got to dial it back in and get ready to play against, obviously, the best team in the NFL next Saturday."

What does it mean to experience the build up to this game and then to win this game knowing what it means to Indianapolis?

"Well two things. First of all what it means, it's one reason why as a team, we gave Mr. (Jim) Irsay the game ball because it does mean a lot. As the owner, he's been behind us. He does whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. So, because of that, we had talked about it in there, I talked about it in there with a couple of guys and the moment wasn't right for other reasons in there because we were kind of honoring Ryan (Kelly) and what he's going through. Ryan and Emma and what they're going through right now but I did want to say here. On behalf of Mr. Irsay, and the team, we're really going to give our fans the game ball. They were massive today. They were having problems with the noise and penalties. So, great job, great energy by our fans today."

What does this one mean to you?

"Yeah, it means a lot. So, I'm more worried about this team and where we're going and how we started the year not winning these games against these kinds of teams and now we've won two out of three against the Bills, lost to Tampa and now beat this team. Feel good about that but we still got to get better."

How often do you give context to Carson Wentz about the play calling?

"It happens a handful of times every game. All that context is given – we cover so many scenarios before the game. We play out so many scenarios, how it's going to go. In moments before drives we might say something. Hey, let's be smart here on this drive or let's do this, let's do that. So, thought Carson (Wentz) did a good job in many respects today managing what we were doing in the run game, getting us in the right run, which, obviously, against that team there was a lot of stuff going on. So, couldn't be happier about the trajectory our whole team is on and him as our quarterback."

When did Bubba Ventrone call the blocked punt?

"He was talking about it all week. He's on a roll. He should go to Vegas or whatever. I mean, man is on a roll. Bubba (Ventrone) is such a good coach. He's such a good coach, such a good leader. He really has those guys playing well. They believe. You can't say enough about Bubba. Really, all three of our coordinators did a great job, coaching staff did a phenomenal job with this game going up against the smartest coach in the history of the game and we went toe to toe. Not only on the field but what we did schematically in all three phases. I think it's fair to say we held our own in that regard as well. So, credit to all three coordinators and our coaching staff."

QUARTERBACK CARSON WENTZ

Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, December 18, 2021

Have you ever won a game with that kind of stat line, just in terms of throwing?

"Probably high school. I was just saying, it's a weird flow of the game. We had short fields. The defense was getting turnovers and I felt like our drives were short. Kind of sloppy, kind of ugly, but a huge win, nonetheless. A huge win and for us to come away, especially the way we sealed the deal there with JT (Jonathan Taylor) making two guys miss in the hole sealing the deal, huge win for us."

You don't want sloppy and ugly and you don't plan for that, but is that kind of a reality against that team?

"It can be, it definitely can be. That's a good defense, don't get me wrong. It's a good defense, they make things tough. They have a specific game plan every week for every team, hats off to them, they made it tough in spots honestly. We struggled on third down, especially and we have to be better at. Again, we will take a win however we can get it at this point."

We haven't seen you get kind of fired up the way you got fired up there, what happened?

"I don't know if I have ever been that fired up on a football field before. I don't need to go into the specifies obviously, but a man's ability to reproduce is being in question and some other guys with curse words. Guy's hands needs to be at their side – I will just say that. When that happens, you can get pretty riled up as I expect a lot of people would."

You think about this team, you guys started 1-4 and had some losses that you probably would want back. But you've won five of the last six games, you're sitting at the fifth seed in the AFC right now, what in your mind is why you guys believe you're playing some of your best football in the season right now?

"I look back at those games early – I thought we were playing good football, just not good enough. It was just the little things here and there and a lot of it, as we talked about was our ability to finish those tight ball games. For us to do that today, was huge. And I think that the rest of the guys are starting to gel. Really just buying and belief and just dig a little deeper down the stretch of these football games. It was big for us today."

Is this another example of how you guys, what did you attempt nine passes I believe, defense forces two turnovers and gets a blocked punt, that just shows how you guys can beat teams in different ways?

"Yeah, I think it shows for one, it's December football. At the end of the day, all you want is a win and whatever that looks like, who cares? Who cares about the stat lines? That's what I love about this team. Receivers, everyone is just selling out to win. You already mentioned it, I don't think I've thrown the ball 12 times in a very long time in a game, and that's fine. At the end of the day all I care about is that final score and for us to come out with a win that was huge and that's what we are going to need down the stretch is just find a way, any means necessary to win these ball games."

What specifically do they do to ugly the game up for you just in general?

"For one they have a good secondary – their defense and their scheme is really good. They're going to stack the box, they have good cover guys back there as well, which can kind of make it confusing to some extent. But I just thought we misfired on a few. I definitely want some throws back, no doubt about that. We had some chances there; we just didn't hit them. We were up late, we are just trying to run out the clock. Again, just kind of a weird flow of the game."

Late in the game, Jonathan Taylor's run sealed it. When they expect you to run and you want to run it, did you check into that? Did you expect a big hole? How did that play out from your perspective?

"There were about 11 guys up. Everyone in the building knew we were running the ball. We have the best running back in the league and he made two guys miss in the hole, that's just JT being JT. Taking it to the house and no one is going to catch him. Just our ability to run the ball today, even though it was sloppy and ugly at times, for us to finish like that, for JT to break that one off, that was huge. That's what it's going to take sometimes."

At what point in the run did you know that it was a touchdown, not just a 20, 30-yard run?

"For one, I knew we just needed a first down. I didn't know if he was going to slide or what he was about to do. I think he had some indecision on sliding or finishing that one. Once I saw him get past that safety, I knew he was gone, as long as he wasn't going to slide."

LINEBACKER DARIUS LEONARD

Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, December 18, 2021

Let's start with the atmosphere in the locker room and just how special this win was for you guys.

"It was very special. The thing we want is our respect – we aren't getting that. We know if we play four quarters of football that we are going to be a tough team to beat. We got to continue to come in and go to work and continue to get better and just try to be 1-0 each week."

Is Jonathan Taylor the MVP?

"Of course. There is absolutely no question. What he is doing now in this NFL there's absolutely no question that he is the MVP."

When did you know he was gone on that play?

"As soon as he left the line of scrimmage. As soon as he shot past the line of scrimmage, I saw (J.C.) Jackson trying to chase him and once I saw him give him that look – if you're ever running, if you look back, you know he's not catching him."

RUNNING BACK JONATHAN TAYLOR

Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, December 18, 2021

Where is the confidence level with this team right now with the way you guys are playing down the stretch?

"The confidence level is high. It's the same mentality every week, 1-0. Same routine. Don't change, don't waiver. Things aren't going your way, continue to work continue to keep your nose on the grindstone. Things will play out. We know we are a great team. We just have to make sure we put it together each and every single Sunday."

What was your mindset during this game? You had to be patient in this one until you broke off that big one towards the end. What did you see there, and what was your mindset?

"Just got to accept the challenge. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Nothing is going to be given, everything is going to be earned, so you just got to play four quarters."

I know all week you guys' kind of downplayed it trying to make it like another game, but now in the locker knowing how big this win was, can you tell us in hindsight about how big this one really is for you guys?

"Yeah. Especially for the guys who played before. I just took the same approach, it's the same game to me. Being able to just be where I need to be, when I need to be there, every single play. Knowing that eventually things will come our way, and things will start falling."

For you personally, when it gets close like that at the end, how badly do you want to be the one with the ball in your hands down the stretch?

"Same mentality. No matter what play is called, just make sure you be where you need to be when you need to be there in order to make sure you can execute."

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