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Ben Smith

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Colts out to make month memorable

– Mewelde Moore has been back merely days, but he knows what this is here. This is the season of dreams. This is a boy, a ball, Mom’s flowerbed as one sideline, the neighbor’s hedge as another.

“This is the part of the season that every kid’s played in his backyard,” the Colts’ running back said last week after being added to the roster. “A final play, fourth-and-2, and you are diving over the pile.

“This is the football that now means the most. Football in December, January and so on.”

And that these Colts have arrived here with the dreams and the meaning intact is testament to Ryan Grigson’s eye for talent and temperament, and Chuck Pagano’s vision, and Bruce Arians’ ability to channel that vision in Pagano’s absence. It’s a testament to the leadership of veterans and the why-the-hell-not belief of a bunch of naive kids who truly were oblivious to the fact that the NFL, more often than not, is where belief goes to die.

And now here they are, in the season of dreams. It’s December, it’s Houston, it’s the playoffs riding and maybe even a division title, too.

Biggest game of the year. Right, Coach Arians?

“No, it’s just the next game,” he says. “It’s the most important game of the year because it is the next game.”

And, OK, so you knew he was going to say that, because it’s a variation of what he’s been saying all year. The Colts didn’t get where they are – 9-4 and a game back of the Texans as they go to Houston – by looking at the big picture. A veteran club might be able to pull that off, but this isn’t a veteran club.

And so Arians has wisely narrowed the focus to one game, one week, one practice, the next practice. And then on to the next thing.

“We understand losing a game on the road by 30 points doesn’t mean the season’s over with,” outside linebacker Dwight Freeney says. “That just means we lost one game. They all count just one game, and I think we’ve had that mentality.”

And now that mentality has brought them here. To, yes, the biggest game of the year.

If the Texans win – and, coming off a beatdown in New England last week, and facing the guy (Andrew Luck) they’ll facing for years to come, they have plenty of motivation – they seal the deal in the AFC South. If the Colts win, somehow, it goes down to the last game of the season, Colts-Texans again, this time in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Logic says Texans. Karma says Colts.

“We are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game,” says Luck, whose last game at Reliant Stadium was a playoff loss his junior year of high school.

“This game is like no other,” adds defensive end Cory Redding.

And it’s been a long and often astounding road to it.

“I believe there are multiple seasons within a season,” Redding goes on. “You have your preseason and all that kind of stuff. Then you have your season to position yourself, getting some games that are going to mean something in December. Once it gets to December football, that’s a whole total different season.

“It’s always good to have this feeling in December to play a game that means something. We are very blessed to be here. We climbed a lot of high mountains. We overcame some things and did some good things as a team. So here we are.”

And here they go.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.