The soul-searching moments following a 30-point home loss wouldn’t seem the best time to corner the player who pound-for-pound might rate as one of the Indianapolis Colts’ toughest.
Yet no reluctance exists in fullback Stanley Havili.
Not when it comes to filling whatever role needs filled in order for his team to succeed. Not when calmly trying to attach words to his feelings in the aftermath of a shocking 38-8 loss to the sub-.500 St. Louis Rams.
“It was frustrating, to say the least,” said the 6-foot, 243-pound Havili, who on Sunday finished with a career-high three receptions for 25 yards. “It was tough. Really tough.”
Since breaking into the league in 2011, Havili has earned paychecks performing tasks that might go unnoticed to the average spectator.
A crushing block. An outstanding hustle play on special teams. Hauling in a quick swing pass from Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck. Carrying the football in his typical Point A to Point B manner behind center Samson Satele.
Rest assured, Colts coaches notice and appreciate.
“I put my most pride in my blocking,” said Havili, who while at USC helped spring holes for, among others, former New York Jets tailback Joe McKnight and former Jacksonville draft selection Chauncey Washington. “I don’t mind getting in there and delivering blows. That’s the best part for me.”
Despite what was clearly a case of Indianapolis putting its worst foot forward, not noticing Havili’s efforts against the Rams proved nearly impossible.
Offensive contributions aside, he proved to be the only Colt player capable of stopping St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin. The latter, all 5-8, 176 pounds of him, proved the sharpest of thorns, chalking up two long touchdown receptions and a 98-yard punt return for a score.
However, during one first-half punt return, Austin’s evasiveness met its his match when Havili stormed in from the opposite side of the field to make the tackle.
Drafted by Philadelphia in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Havili spent all of that season on the Eagles’ practice squad. He played in 15 games the following season, his first career start coming in a 17-16 victory at Cleveland in the season-opener.
Havili admits to that day being the most surreal of his NFL career to date. The son of Tongan immigrants and one of eight children had made the big time doing what he loves to do most.
This past March, the Colts traded defensive end Clifton Geathers to the Eagles for Havili, who through nine games has been a staple of Indy’s offense and special teams.
Already this season Havili has made six starts (one more than during his time in Philly) and has 11 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“To say that I’m fortunate to be on this team is an understatement,” said Havili, who takes nothing for granted by throwing every ounce of effort into every play he’s on the field. “It’s all about believing in yourself.”
Havili believes in his coaches and teammates, which is why he’s confident Sunday’s debacle in time will be viewed as nothing more than a bad day at the office.
“I think with a short week, it’s an advantage for us to put this loss to rest, learn from the mistakes and get ready for Thursday,” said Havili, referring to Indy’s upcoming game at Tennessee. “I’ll be very excited to get this sour taste out of my mouth.”