After consecutive double-digit losses brought their record to 3-4, things looked bleak for the Indianapolis Colts.

Dallas Clark's career day helped put the Colts firmly in control of their postseason destiny.

Dallas Clark's career day helped put the Colts firmly in control of their postseason destiny.

The defense had given up 64 points in two games, a rusty Peyton Manning looked pedestrian, and the Colts had New England and Pittsburgh looming on the schedule.

Many outside the organization believed the Colts’ window of opportunity was closing. After making the playoffs in eight of the past nine seasons, perhaps their time had finally passed.

What a difference two months makes.

Should they defeat the Jaguars Thursday, the Colts will clinch the No. 1 wildcard position with a week to spare, a feat that seemed impossible after the Packers trounced them 34-14 at Lambeau Field on Oct. 19.

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Colts have now reeled off seven straight victories after being left for dead by many.

The Colts certainly had some help along the way.

The combination of Bill Belichick outsmarting himself, Ben Roethlisberger self-destructing, Norv Turner being Norv Turner, and Robert Mathis saving the day has helped the Colts’ cause. The Bengals and Lions finding their way onto the schedule late in the season didn’t hurt either.

This isn’t the 2004 squad that led the league in scoring; it’s not the 2005 team that flirted with perfection; and it’s not the 2007 team that started the season 7-0, beating five of those opponents by three scores or more.

This Colts’ team hasn’t followed the formula fans have become accustomed to, but what they have been is resilient — finding different ways to win and emerging victorious when they had no business doing so. And while they won’t host a playoff game for the first time since 2002, they’ve shown they can win on the road.

Everything else aside, the key number for the Colts is one … because with one more victory, they’ll be playing in January once again — and that’s all that really matters.

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