INDIANAPOLIS – There's a first time for everything and Sunday's trip to New England will be a first for many of the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's funny because I had a show of hands of how many guys in the locker room that this was their first trip to Foxborough," interim head coach Bruce Arians said. "Way too many."
Arians said nearly half of the players in the locker room raised their hands.
Of course, this season has been full of new things — a new quarterback, a new coach, a new general manager, a new image on the field.
Now the Colts (6-3) will try to do something for the first time since 2009 when they go on the road to face the Patriots (6-3) — string five wins together.
"This game is, it's enriched in its own way, with the competitors on the field and the grand stage that it's on, both teams 6-3," defensive end Cory Redding. "At the end of the day, somebody's got to come out 7-3 and it's going to be a nice challenge for us to go in there and do what we do."
Indy went 16-3 back in 2009 and won 14 straight before resting their starters the last two games of the regular season and then losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. After last year's debacle, the theme for the Colts this year has been "in the hunt," with the playoffs on everyone's mind.
"It will be huge for us, but it's just another game," Arians said of the Patriots. "We've got a bunch of them left and we want to stay in the hunt."
The Colts passed the test last week when they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10 in their first prime-time game on Thursday. They have some challenges this week.
Colts cornerback Darius Butler will have his hands full with receiver Wes Welker, but the two have spent a lot of time together and know all about each other.
"We actually work out offseason at the same place, so we're definitely familiar with each other as far as athletic ability," Butler said. "It'll be a great matchup. He's one of the best receivers in the game, obviously one of the most productive in the past few years in this league."
The unexpected and quick turnaround of the Colts team from last year isn't just surprising fans, either.
"I'm definitely impressed," Welker said. "Obviously, you would figure it would be a rebuilding type deal for the Colts and it's not that way at all. They're playing some really good ball with a lot of young players and then they have some veterans too who really kind of step up for them in crunch time."
With everything being as new as it is for this Indy team, Arians just doesn't want people to get caught up in watching Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
After all, it is the Brady of the Peyton Manning-Brady rivalry years.
"I know as a younger quarterback, you always tried to watch that game just because the two were sort of a benchmark for the position guys," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said. "So I remember some of the playoff games, some of the late games, I think when Gillette still had grass, it was always muddy, late in the year. So, great games and great franchises."