Colts notebook: Same ol’ same ol’ leads to 30-14 loss
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What we saw in the Indianapolis Colts’ 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. So much for the Colts’ first six games being decided in the final 2 minutes:
Same ol’, same ol’: We’ve reached the season’s midpoint, and maybe we should cue up some old audio from the late Dennis Green. They are who we thought they were.
The one-time Arizona was referring to the Chicago Bears in 2006, but he could have been talking about the ’16 Colts. Just when you thought they might be someone else – winning in Nashville – they reinforce virtually every negative barb that’s been tossed at them.
Against the Chiefs, they were erratic and sloppy on offense, and unable to keep Andrew Luck upright. There were at least five dropped passes, including three from Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton, and a couple of killer penalties. Anthony Castonzo’s first-quarter hold wiped out a 40-yard completion to Hilton and Denzelle Good’s fourth-quarter hold negated Luck’s 45-yard TD to Donte Moncrief.
And then there was Luck’s protection, or lack of it. He was sacked six times, matching a career high set last month, and hit on another 12 drop-backs by a Chiefs defense that had eight sacks in four games. The shoddy protection also resulted in him vacating the pocket nine times, resulting in him rushing for a career-high 60 yards. That latter stat, by the way, is not a good thing.
Luck suffered an interception and lost a fumble out of the shotgun, upping his season total to a still-respectable eight turnovers. However, opponents have turned them into 39 points.
The defense yielded 422 yards to the Chiefs, and that’s with backup Nick Foles doing the heavy lifting. Starter Alex Smith was knocked from the game twice, the final time with a concussion on Kansas City’s first possession of the second half.
“Just like I told the team, the same common things keep coming up over and over and over again,’’ Chuck Pagano said. “We’ve got to find a way to fix ‘em.’’
Has he ever coached a team that’s continued to make the same mistakes?
“It’s football,’’ Pagano said. “It’s always frustrating when you lose. There’s stuff when you win that needs to get cleaned up and you have to be better at.
“Obviously it’s just magnified when you lose and when you lose like that.’’
Where’s T.Y.? Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton endured one of the worst days of his five-year career. He was targeted six times by Luck but managed just one catch – with less than 2 minutes to play and the game long since decided – with three drops. He temporarily left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and was held out of Thursday’s practice with a lingering hip issue.
“They did a nice job covering him. Nothing exotic,’’ Luck said. “That’s a good defense and I don’t think we were sharp enough as a whole unit for anyone to really have a good game.’’
The game extended Hilton’s erratic season. Consider his weekly yardage output: 79, 41, 174, 42, 171, 49, 133 and 20.
Apparently as Hilton goes, so go the Colts. In the three wins, he’s averaged 159.3 yards with 3 TDs. In the five losses, he’s averaged 46.2 yards on 21 catches with 1 TD.
Sacks piling up: Since we mentioned Luck suffering six more sacks, it’s worth noting he’s now gone down a league-high 31 times and is on pace to endure 62. That would tie the franchise record set in 1997.
To add perspective to the abuse Luck has endured, let’s consider the most times Peyton Manning was sacked during his 13-year career as the Colts starting QB. That would be 29 in 2001.
More perspective. Luck has been sacked 31 times in 8 games. Manning was sacked a total of 31 times in 2003-04 and 31 times in 2005-06.
No returns: The Colts have been searching for answers on punt returns since losing Quan Bray to a season-ending ankle injury. Rookie Chester Rogers returned punts last Sunday at Tennessee, but was inactive against the Chiefs with a hamstring and foot injuries.
It’s fair to say they’re still searching.
Hilton opened the game handling the duties, but temporarily left the game with a hamstring injury. That opened the door for rookie Josh Ferguson, who promptly muffed his only opportunity. Then, Phillip Dorsett muffed another after making a fair catch. That prompted Hilton to return in the fourth quarter, at which time he deftly caught a punt and returned it 5 yards.
Tag-team Chiefs: It took a pair of hits to the head to finally knock Smith from the game. He was evaluated for a concussion after being sacked by Edwin Jackson on the Chief’s first possession of the game, but returned in the second quarter. Smith was KO’d for good on Kansas City’s first drive of the second half on a sack by safety Clayton Geathers. He was diagnosed with a concussion.
Enter Foles. He made the most of his first appearance of the season, passing for 223 yards and touchdowns to Travis Kelce (14 yards) and Tyreek Hill (34 yards). The Colts aided Hill’s team-high fourth TD of the season by blowing coverage along the left side line and leaving Hill wide open.
Foles, the former Eagles/Rams QB who signed as a free agent in August, insisted he wasn’t nervous.
“No, not at all,’’ he said. “You feel it in your blood when you get in there, but once you start going and playing and your body starts warming up and you see the defense and you get the speed back, you just get into the zone and start playing football.’’
Medical update: Injuries kept piling up for the Colts. Cornerback Vontae Davis suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return while right tackle Joe Reitz didn’t return after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter. Davis appeared to suffer his concussion when colliding with rookie safety T.J. Green in the end zone on Kelce’s 14-yard TD.
When Reitz exited, rookie left guard Joe Haeg moved to right tackle and Jon Harrison replaced Haeg.
On a Hail Mary with 2 seconds to play, wideout Phillip Dorsett was slow to get up and had to be helped off. There was no update on his injury or condition. He missed the previous game with a hamstring injury.
This and that: The Colts matched a season high with three sacks, getting one each from Robert Mathis, Erik Walden and Jackson. It was Walden’s sixth of the year and the first of Jackson’s career. . . . Frank Gore’s 18-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his third of the season, matching a career best.