Saturday enjoys debut win as Colts interim head coach shrugs off controversy

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Amid all the furore around his appointment as interim head coach, Jeff Saturday may have been the coolest man in the building as he guided the Indianapolis Colts to a 25-20 road win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

In his first game as a head coach above the high school level, Saturday tasted a victory that will have gone some way to silencing his critics.

Saturday's lack of experience made the former Pro Bowl center unlikely candidate, with others among the Colts coaching staff seen as having more valid claims, but owner Jim Irsay had little hesitation in turning to the 47-year-old to replace the fired Frank Reich.

Despite all the controversy surrounding him, Saturday remained cool, calm and collected.

"In all honesty and in all truth, I felt very at peace," he said, before diverting all the praise to his players.

"I told the guys just all three phases was an incredible team effort. These guys have been through it.

"I told the staff, the coaches, the players, [about] the fortitude that they presented and the way they played. They laid it all out there and I just could not be more appreciative of those guys and the way they played.

"Everybody from offense, defense and, obviously, on special teams, these guys, they rallied and it's a special moment for all of those guys and I tipped my hat to all of them. It's just an honour to be a part of it."

"I just kept telling them, man, just keep pushing through and I said it's going to come down to the last play. It always does in the NFL. And who goes hardest, the longest ultimately wins.

"We made a couple plays there at the end that were spectacular."

In a surprising move, Saturday opted to return the starting quarterback role to veteran Matt Ryan, pivoting away from second-year youngster Sam Ehlinger.

Ryan was serviceable, completing 21 of 28 passes for 222 yards and no turnovers, but they relied on their running game to get the job done.

"I wanted to talk to the staff on Friday afternoon, but I knew what I was going to do," Saturday said of his call to bring Ryan back in.

"I knew everybody was with it and I felt like Matt gave us the best chance to win. I had the conversation with Sam, who was a true pro, and I have so much respect for that young man and the way that he's conducting himself and the type of team-mate he is."