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Colts on cusp of longest win streak in post-Luck era

Indianapolis has won five consecutive games just three times since the 2009 campaign when the Colts reached Super Bowl XLIV. 

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse (4) has a punt attempt blocked by Indianapolis Colts safety Nick Cross (20) during the second half at Nissan Stadium.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Isn’t it ironic?

The Indianapolis Colts trailed the Tennessee Titans 28-25 with 4:19 left in overtime before Gardner Minshew launched a 56-yard bomb to receiver Alec Pierce and engineered his sixth career game-winning drive.

The Cincinnati Bengals trailed the Jacksonville Jaguars three times on Monday Night Football before kicker Evan McPherson ultimately kicked a walk-off game-winning field goal to escape victorious in overtime and give backup quarterback Jake Browning his first career win.

Indianapolis has won five consecutive games just three times since the 2009 campaign when the Colts reached Super Bowl XLIV.

2014: Indianapolis defeated Cincinnati 27-0 to win its fifth consecutive game in 2014. In the postseason, the Colts beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, then beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos at Mile High Stadium in the Divisional round, before ultimately falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

2018: Four years later was Frank Reich’s first season at the helm, coincidentally after serving as the offensive coordinator for the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. After starting the season 1-5, the Colts won five straight games and became the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs after losing five of its first six games. The Colts won the last four games of the regular season, and beat the Texans in the wild card round before ultimately falling to the Chiefs, 31-13, in the first playoff game for Patrick Mahomes, which also was the last NFL game for Andrew Luck.

First-year head coach Shane Steichen has put together a solid case to be an NFL Coach of the Year candidate. Indianapolis ranks eighth in scoring 25.0 points per game and has scored at least 20 points in 11 games, tied with the Detroit Lions for the most in the league. The Colts four-game win streak is tied with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers for the NFL’s longest active win streak.

Steichen mentioned Wednesday the Bengals play tough and physical, so the Colts must “review the tape study” to limit the explosive plays. The Colts are 5-2 (.714) in one possession games, which is the fourth best winning percentage in the league.

“I think the focus is on what you can control and the focus is on this week,” Steichen said. Yeah, we’ve won four in a row, but no one cares anymore. It’s all about this week. That’s where our focus is at, on Cincinnati, and we have got to have basically tunnel vision on the Cincinnati Bengals. We know that we can control our own destiny, but it doesn’t matter because we’ve got to handle business on Sunday.”

Defensive tackle Grover Stewart is set to return in Week 14 from his six-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. The Colts are on the cusp of the first five-game winning streak in the post-Luck era and must play complimentary football in all three phases to emerge victorious on the trip to Cincinnati.