Shortly after the Indianapolis Colts survived a 17-13
slugfest against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, a cheer arose from the
home locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It had little to do with the team evening its record at 3-3 and joining a
crowded AFC wild-card playoff race and everything to do with the news
delivered moments earlier by owner Jim Irsay.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, receiving treatment for acute leukemia, was
released from the IU Health Simon Cancer Center on Sunday morning and
watched the Colts’ victory from home.
“I’m thrilled to hear about that,” rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said.
“I’m more thrilled about that than the win.”
Pagano will continue receiving treatment at home as his body struggles to
produce healthy blood cells. And Indianapolis interim head coach Bruce
Arians hopes the win over the Browns didn’t prompt a brief setback.
“I’m sure he’s feeling great right now,” Arians said. “Hopefully, he
didn’t get too daggone exhausted coaching from the bedroom and his count
didn’t go down. As long as his count stays up, he’s going to be in great
The same can be said for the football team that takes on more and more of
its coach’s fighting mentality each week.
The win against Cleveland (1-6) seldom was pretty, but it was as important
as any victory in this young season. Having already dropped a winnable
home game against Jacksonville, the Colts could ill afford another step
backward against a struggling conference foe.
Making the situation more dire was a banged up defensive line that was
forced to include newcomers Clifton Geathers and Lawrence Guy in the rotation.
Guy arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday, and Geathers had all of a week’s
head start on him. They combined for just three tackles and were part of a
run defense that limited the Browns to just 55 yards on 17 carries.