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“I think we were confident in the locker room from day one. I remember going in, trying to gauge the feel of what it was going to be like. Guys were confident on this team, like Reggie Wayne who had never missed a playoff until that year. Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, those guys are winners, they know how to win, so I think they imparted some of that magic, if you will, on some of the younger guys, the newer guys.

“It was a confident bunch, we never prepared to lose a game, we always prepared to win, and I guess that worked out.”

It’s still a mystery exactly how, but Luck wasn’t going to spend much more time dwelling on that than he did on accumulating records.

“I guess it will be an extra special Christmas,” he said, referring to Pagano’s return. “There will be a lot of emotions when he comes through the door. It’s funny, there are probably 10 guys who have never met Chuck on the team, but I think they will be emotional too because I’m sure they feel like they know him, too, because his presence is felt so much in the building out here, and wherever we go.”

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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at http://twitter.com/JimLitke