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Pagano's presence inspires Colts' big win

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The ailing coach talked to team before and after game

Monday, November 5, 2012 - 9:42 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Only one person could upstage Andrew Luck's record-setting performance in the Indianapolis Colts' biggest win of the season: coach Chuck Pagano.

Pagano, still fighting his battle against leukemia, talked with the team before and after Luck threw for an NFL rookie-record 433 yards in the Colts' 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In a video released by the Colts, Pagano can be seen addressing the team in an emotional scene afterward.

“I mentioned before the game we were living in a vision, we weren't living in circumstances,” Pagano told the team. “You know where they had us in the beginning. You refused to live in circumstances. We decided consciously as a team and a family, to live in a vision. That's why you bring things home like you brought it home today.”

Pagano addressed his own situation briefly, emotion evident in his voice.

“I've got circumstances,” he said. “You guys understand it. I understand it. It's already beat. My vision is I'm living to see two more daughters get married and dance at their weddings, and hoist that Lombardi trophy.”

While Colts coach Jim Irsay had tweeted earlier this week that Pagano might attend the game, the Colts players did not know that Pagano would be visiting the locker room.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose 43-yard field goal with 5:58 left ended up as the winning margin, said it was the first time many of the players had seen Pagano since he was hospitalized on Sept. 26. Pagano will have another round of treatment again this week.

“It was awesome just having him in the locker room,” Vinatieri said. “He has a little less hair but having him in that locker room was amazing. All the guys were very, very emotional and fired up about it.”

Luck said he didn't hear the first words Pagano spoke before the game because he was so thrilled to see him.

“It was huge,” Luck said. “Obviously, his presence is felt every day in this facility …in this city. For all the guys to see him in the flesh in the locker room, to hear him speak gave a big boost to all the guys.”

Luck delivered his best performance of the season, completing 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards and touchdowns to Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. His 433 yards broke Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's rookie record of 432 set last season.

Luck also recorded his fourth game of 300 or more yards passing, tying Peyton Manning's rookie record. The Colts improved to 5-3 at the halfway point of the season and play at Jacksonville on Thursday night.

Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said the Colts' play has been geared toward stretching the season as far as possible with the hope that Pagano might be able to return to coaching before it ends.

“For me, it's (inspiring) to make sure we make the playoffs because he's got a great chance to be back at the end of December,” Arian said. “We need to make sure we extend this season so he can be back on the sidelines with us, healthy. That's our goal.”