Aug 3, 2019; Canton, OH, USA; Kevin Mawae speaks during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae joining Colts staff

Hall of Fame center Kevin Mawae is joining the Indianapolis Colts as an assistant offensive line coach, The Athletic reported Wednesday.

Mawae, who turned 50 last month, was inducted into Canton in 2019 following a decorated 16-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks (1994-97), New York Jets (1998-2005) and Tennessee Titans (2006-09).

The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro was a member of the Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Mawae, who retired after the 2009 season following 241 games (238 starts), had been working for Arizona State as an offensive analyst since 2018 under head coach Herm Edwards. He was an assistant offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears in 2016.

Mawae would be working under Chris Strausser, who has been the offensive line coach in Indianapolis since January 2019.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass as Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) rushes in the second quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Colts, QB Philip Rivers to take a month before deciding future

While quarterback Philip Rivers mulls his future in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts will take some time to weigh their options at Rivers’ position as well.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Thursday he wants Rivers to return, but there are other factors that have to be considered over the next month.

“So here’s the discussion I had with Philip, and I had it with (coach) Frank (Reich) and I’m talking with (owner) Mr. (Jim) Irsay this afternoon,” Ballard said during a video conference. “Do I think Philip can still play? Absolutely, I do. Philip and I had an hour talk yesterday. He’s going to take time, and we’re going to take some time, and we’ll meet here in about a month and figure out which way we’re going to go forward.

“Philip’s got to make a decision that for sure he wants to play. So we have to go through that process.

“Do I think Philip Rivers is a winning quarterback that we can win and go to the Super Bowl with? Absolutely.”

The 39-year-old free agent quarterback just completed his first season with the Colts after 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. He completed 369 of 543 pass attempts this season for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns while being intercepted 11 times. He went 27-for-46 for 309 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 27-24 loss at Buffalo in an AFC Wild Card game Saturday.

After the loss, Rivers laid out one of two options for him in 2021.

“Whatever God’s will is for me and my family, if it’s here in Indy playing another year then we’ll be here. And if it’s not, I’ll be on the sidelines with a ball cap coaching the heck out of a high school football team down in south Alabama,” he told reporters.

Rivers ranks fifth all-time in passing yards (63,440) and fifth in passing touchdowns (421) in NFL history. Last offseason he went through a similar process and signed a one-year contract with Indianapolis.

Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett is also a free agent, leaving rookie Jacob Eason as the only Colts quarterback presently under contract.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Offenses will be on display when Bills host Colts

The focus will be on whether Philip Rivers can outperform Josh Allen when the Indianapolis Colts visit the Buffalo Bills in Saturday’s AFC wild-card contest but perhaps the bigger barometer of a possible upset lies on the feet of Jonathan Taylor.

The Colts’ rookie is fresh off a monster game as he leads the seventh-seeded Colts (11-5) into the matchup with the second-seeded Bills (13-3) at Orchard Park, N.Y.

Taylor completed the regular season by rushing for a franchise-record 253 yards and scored two touchdowns on 30 carries in a 28-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has gained 741 yards over the past six games while displaying the form that had the Bills impressed leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft before Indianapolis tabbed him in the second round with the 41st overall selection.

“We gave him high marks all the way around,” Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told reporters. “Everybody thought that he would be a real good NFL back. I don’t think any of our scouts or any of our coaches who had a chance to take a look at him on the offensive side were surprised at what he’s doing.”

Perhaps the lone hindrance is the shoulder pain Taylor is dealing with after his workhorse outing. He was a limited practice participant on both Tuesday and Wednesday but maintains he will be at full strength.

“Anytime you get 30 carries in a game, you’re going to have nicks and bruises,” Taylor said.

The Bills have had plenty of playoff hurt over the past quarter century — having lost their last six playoff contests since last winning a postseason game following the 1995 season.

Hopes are high that the drought will end after Allen emerged as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks this season.

Allen set franchise records of 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns as well as helping provide a new identity to a rising squad that posted the franchise’s best victory total since 1991, with the latter club advancing to the Super Bowl.

It is victories and postseason achievements that drive Allen, not gaudy statistics or MVP chatter.

“As quarterback of the team, your job is to move the ball and to score points,” Allen said. “So, when we’re not scoring points, that’s my biggest fear. It’s putting our defense in a bind if we’re not moving the chains on third down, again, that puts us behind the eight ball and we’ve got to punt the ball away.

“That’s what drives me. That’s what motivates me. I fear letting the guys who drafted me, this front office and this organization, down.”

Allen certainly has been helped by the presence of wideout Stefon Diggs, who led the NFL with a career-best 127 receptions while also accumulating a career-high 1,535 yards. The powerful duo has helped the Bills rank second in the NFL in scoring offense (31.3 points per game) while tying for second in total offense (396.4 yards per game).

Indianapolis ranks ninth in scoring offense (28.2) and 10th in total offense (378.1) behind the 39-year-old Rivers, who last week moved past legendary Dan Marino and into fifth place in NFL history with 421 career touchdown passes.

This is Rivers’ first season with the Colts but this contest could also be his last — either with the team or for his career.

Perhaps that is why Rivers (4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns) is feeling that extra dose of urgency.

“Certainly, I wanted to be part of a playoff team and a team that has a chance to win a championship,” Rivers said after Sunday’s game. “I definitely found out early that I was on that kind of team.”

Colts coach Frank Reich just wants Rivers to relax. In fact, he sees no reason for any of his players to be antsy.

“The pressure is not on us,” Reich said. “We should be loose, we should be aggressive, we should be freed up to just play our best game of the year against a really good football team because, in reality, no one is going to give us a chance.

“When you’re with this team the way I am day in and day out, you would know where I get the confidence to feel like we have the team to beat anybody in this tournament.”

That would rate as an accomplishment against a red-hot Buffalo squad that has won its last six games, including the past three by a hefty 29.3 average. In fact, the Bills would have 10 straight wins if not for losing 32-30 to the Arizona Cardinals on a game-ending Hail Mary pass.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Bills safety Micah Hyde, “because it made us a better defense, it made us a better team. We understood we should have won that game. … But, I mean, we were just rolling after that.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls an audible at the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rivers, Colts hope to extend season vs. Jaguars

Could Sunday be the last hurrah for veteran quarterback Philip Rivers?

Addressing the uncertain nature beyond the host Indianapolis Colts’ Week 17 game against the skidding Jacksonville Jaguars, Rivers acknowledged the thought crossed his mind.

With the Colts (10-5) needing a victory against the Jaguars (1-14) plus a loss from either the Cleveland Browns (10-5), Baltimore Ravens (10-5), Miami Dolphins (10-5) or Tennessee Titans (10-5) to make the AFC playoffs, Indianapolis’ postseason prospects aren’t the only “What if” swirling around town.

“I guess it’s probably healthy to have that thought because, shoot, you’re not guaranteed anything moving forward,” Rivers said. “But to think it could be the last game, the last game I ever play, certainly. I don’t intend it will be, I don’t hope that it is, but you have to acknowledge it is a possibility.”

Rivers, 39, signed a one-year contract with the Colts in the offseason following a 16-season career with the Chargers franchise. Still, coach Frank Reich admitted this season he could see the Colts bringing Rivers back, were he interested.

Behind Rivers’ 23 touchdowns and 68.2 completion percentage against just 10 interceptions — half his total from 2019 — the Colts rank eighth in the NFL in passing yards per game (259.3) and ninth in scoring at 28.2 points per game.

Rivers will aim to stay upright Sunday with a shuffled offensive line. The Colts, who are coming off a 28-24 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 16, announced Wednesday that left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee) will be out for the remainder of the season.

Jacksonville earned its lone win of 2020 with a 27-20 home victory against the Colts in the season opener. Rivers was 36 of 46 for 363 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, outshined by Jaguars counterpart Gardner Minshew II, who had one incompletion in 20 attempts while passing for173 yards and three touchdowns.

Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson rushed for 62 yards on 16 carries in his NFL debut en route to a 1,070-yard, seven-touchdown season that ultimately was cut short. After missing Jacksonville’s Week 16 home loss to Chicago with a left ankle injury that hampered him the previous week, the Jaguars announced Wednesday that Robinson would be shut down for the remainder of the season.

Robinson fell just 35 yards shy of breaking the league rushing record for an undrafted rookie.

“I could never, ever say enough about that guy, how hard he’s tried,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He wants to come back. He wants to play.”

The same could be said for a healthy Minshew, but Marrone has confirmed that veteran Mike Glennon will start under center in the season finale, completing a quarterback carousel that saw Minshew, rookie Jake Luton and Glennon split starts after Minshew started the first seven games.

Glennon was 24-for-37 for 211 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 41-17 loss to the Bears, and he figures to have a depleted core of weapons against the Colts. Marrone said wide receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring) would be out Sunday, while fellow wideout D.J. Chark (shin) didn’t practice Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) falls backward into the end-zone to score a one yard touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers rally past Colts in second half, clinch AFC North

Ben Roethlisberger led a second-half comeback Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers broke a three-game losing streak and clinched the AFC North title with a 28-24 win over the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

After the Steelers (12-3) trailed by 17 points in the third quarter, Roethlisberger’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Juju Smith-Shuster put the Steelers ahead for the first time and for the final score with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter.

The Colts (10-5) had won three straight.

Roethlisberger was 34 of 49 passing for 342 yards. Diontae Johnson and Eric Ebron also had scoring catches. James Conner ran for a touchdown.

Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers was 22 of 35 passing for 270 yards and a touchdown to Zach Pascal. Rookie Jonathan Taylor rushed for two touchdowns.

The first possession for each team was a microcosm of the first half.

Pittsburgh, after three straight incompletions, punted.

Indianapolis drove 70 yards in nine plays, with Taylor’s 6-yard run up the middle giving the Colts a 7-0 lead.

Pittsburgh failed to score in the first quarter for the sixth straight game.

In the second quarter, Rivers coughed up the ball when he was sacked by NFL sack leader T.J. Watt, and Mike Hilton recovered the ball at the Colts 3. That set up Conner’s 1-yard scoring run for a 7-7 tie.

Taylor bulled his way into the end zone from 1 yard to give Indianapolis a 14-7 lead, and Rivers shrugged off a blitz to hit Pascal in the end zone from 42 yards to push it to 21-7, the halftime score.

Rodrigo Blankenship’s 28-yard field goal pushed the Colts’ lead to 24-7 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.

The Steelers got to the Indianapolis 1 later in the third quarter, but Indianapolis held strong and got the ball back on downs when Pittsburgh opted against a field goal.

When the Colts stalled, the Steelers got favorable field position. On first down, Johnson made a leaping catch from Roethlisberger for a 39-yard touchdown to close it to 24-14.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger threw 5 yards to Ebron for a touchdown, slicing it to 24-21.

–Field Level Media

Jan 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Colts LT Castonzo (knee/ankle) won’t play Sunday

Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo was ruled out for Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh due to knee and ankle injuries.

The Colts (10-4) were already missing starting right tackle Braden Smith for the showdown with the Steelers (11-3) after he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday.

Castonzo, 32, had been listed as questionable. He was a limited participant Thursday, but did not practice Friday.

Castonzo has started 144 games, including 12 this season, since Indianapolis selected him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Colts activated tackle J’Marcus Webb and guard Jake Eldrenkamp from the practice squad for Sunday’s game.

–Field Level Media