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Colts fixing errors, call it a learning experience for team

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Another growing experience.

My parents used the term to put any tough moments in perspective when I was a teenager, and I passed it on to my kids, as well.

You might have learned it in terms of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Whatever the maxim, chances are it was heard in the Colts’ locker room following Sunday’s 59-24 meltdown in New England.

While it might be trite, it also is true.

Indy got a three-hour lesson from the Patriots in how to play a complete football game.

If Bruce Arians’ team is smart, it will embrace the moment.

Oh sure, you don’t want to get kicked, especially when pick-6s and punt returns are their own highlight reel.

This was a total team rear-kickin’. Can I say that? Well, someone has to.

The prime kickee was Andrew Luck, the rookie quarterback who was sensational yesterday and will be even more sensational tomorrow.

On the turf of Foxborough, he was merely mortal. Four turnovers marred an otherwise solid passing performance.

More than numbers, though, Luck got Bellichicked. You hate to admit it, but the New England coach had a game plan that looked like he knew Indy’s plays

before they did. (Insert joke here.)

The Pats countered Luck’s mobility and cut down his options. Forced to be a pocket passer, the Indy signal-caller looked lost at times.

It worked well, as did the New England offense behind Tom Brady, which sliced Indy’s defense with a thousand paper cuts disguised as 5-yard crossing routes. The 59 points were the second most ever yielded by the team.

You might remember the record happened last year. New Orleans delivered a 62-7 shiner on national TV. That was under Curtis Painter and a winless team, though.

The Pats took apart a 6-4 Colts team that is in line for a playoff spot.

The good news is, even with the whitewash, Indy is still on track to make the postseason as a wild card.

Now, the Colts have a better idea of what awaits in January. There is an elite level in the NFL, and Indy is not there.

That does not mean the Colts are not good and getting better.

Home games against the Bills and Titans are on the horizon, sandwiched around a trip to Detroit. All are winnable. A 9-4 record going into a season-ending stretch that includes two of three against the Texans is possible.

What happens, though, is a function of embracing this moment as a lesson.

How will the fiasco in Foxborough be remembered? Will it be a defining moment in the late-season decline of an overachieving team? Or, will it be a bump soon forgotten by a playoff run?

With the trials this team already has endured, my guess is the latter. Take what you can, learn from it and move on.

It’s a growing experience, you know. If the adage is true, you learn more from losing than winning. Indy learned a lot at New England.

The Colts learned that winning on the road against a superior opponent is a goal they cannot check off the list quite yet. Not even close.

If this already remarkable team is to make a run in the playoffs as a wild card, though, that is the goal that must be met.

Perhaps they will continue to move forward in a way that put them in that position again. A snowy January game in Foxborough is certainly a possibility. Or it might be Denver or Baltimore.

Wherever, Indy now understands the challenge in a new way.

A humbling November Sunday in New England may have imparted a lesson well worth learning come January.

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