INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano is one of the reasons Baltimore has enjoyed an extended run of playoff success.
Now, Pagano seeks to halt that enjoyment as he faces the Ravens in Sunday’s Wild Card Playoffs.
Pagano was the Baltimore secondary coach from 2008-10 before moving to defensive coordinator in 2011.
His first year there was when Baltimore started its streak of playoff success under Head Coach John Harbaugh, and the Ravens stand as the NFL’s only team to win post-season games for four consecutive years.
While Pagano no doubt is proud of that accomplishment, he is just as intent on bringing that streak to an end.
To snuff out that streak and start one with Indianapolis means keeping true to the process that allowed the club to go 11-5 in his first season.
“It’s another game. I know there’s some significance there, but for us to deviate from the process that these guys have just stuck to throughout the whole season (is not necessary). They understand the routine,” said Pagano. “It is the playoffs. The energy is amped up, the excitement level, the focus, all those things are amped up now because you got yourself in the dance, but it’s one and done. You win you move on, you lose you go home. Obviously, all those things are heightened.”
Pagano will be returning to what was the home for four of his 28 years in coaching prior to Indianapolis.
Calling the Ravens a “top-notch” organization that was good to his family, his focus is to start a journey with Indianapolis like he helped ignite in Baltimore.
“We asked guys, ‘What’s your legacy going to be? What do you want them to say about you and what do you want them to say about this team 10, 15, 20 years from now?’ We’re still writing this story because the journey continues,” said Pagano. “They’ve done such an unbelievable job. I think the sky’s the limit.”
Pagano will be taking a youthful Colts team that won nine of its past 11 and knocked off Houston last week, 28-16. Joining the Colts in January just days after being with a Ravens team that fell in the final seconds at New England in the AFC Championship game, Pagano spoke of wanting to hoist the Lombardi Trophy with Indianapolis.
A team many considered only as an afterthought for the playoffs fashioned a solid season and the first steps to Pagano’s ultimate goal start soon.
Said Pagano, “Our deal now is, ‘Why not now? Why not us?’ ”
He will see a Ravens team that was 6-2 at home in 2012 and earned a fifth straight playoff berth. Thirty-six of Baltimore’s players remain from when Pagano was on the coaching staff, including 17 on defense.
The Ravens scored a franchise seasonal-record 398 points, including 254 at home. The 31.8 average was the league’s fourth-best home mark. The club’s defense was battered by injuries and finished 17th in the league, snapping a nine-year streak of ranking in the NFL’s top 10. That streak was the NFL’s third-longest since 1970.
Indianapolis won seven games this year with fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks and was 8-1 in games decided by seven points or less. The Colts finished the season with consecutive games without a turnover, an area that nagged the team all season. It was the first two-game stretch without turnovers since 2010.