Colts balance sloppy play with encouraging moments in preseason opener

Colts linebacker John Simon runs with the football after an interception in a 24-10 preseason loss to the Lions (WTTV August 13, 2017).

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – If the long-running sitcom “The Facts of Life” taught us anything, it’s you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have… preseason football.

That mantra may be marginally edited, but the final sentiment still rings true. For the Colts, the bad outweighed the good in a 24-10 loss to the Lions, perhaps worst of all committing 11 penalties for 74 yards.

“We created some good plays, but then we hurt ourselves with penalties,” explained head coach Chuck Pagano. “You’re not gonna win any games in the National Football League or at any level for that matter, when you have 11 penalties.”

“We’ve gotta clean it up,” added quarterback Scott Tolzien, who finished 2-for-5 passing for 24 yards. “We’ve gotta get better. It’s early, but it’s not an excuse. We’ve gotta get better starting tomorrow.”

Even without penalties, the Colts struggled to move the ball, particularly in the first half. In those 30 minutes, the team gained just 86 yards, while punting six times.

“As an offense, specifically as a quarterback, our job is to move the chains,” continued Tolzien. “To me, that’s how you evaluate it. We didn’t do that, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“Receivers, (running) backs, and quarterbacks, it comes down to production,” said Pagano. “They’ve gotta make plays.”

On a positive note, the defense made several good plays, taking the ball away on the Lions’ first possession with a John Simon interception, and nearly forcing a fumble later in the game when the referees quickly ruled a Lions’ ball carrier’s forward progress had stopped before the ball popped out.

“The coaches pretty much had the exclamation point on that this offseason,” said safety Malik Hooker, “getting more turnovers and getting the ball back to 12. When he has the ball throughout most of the game, special things happen.”

“That’s something that we’ve been working on every day in practice,” added linebacker Akeem Ayers, who got the post-whistle strip that won’t show up in any stat sheet. “We’re always working on stripping the ball, get batted balls, and getting interceptions. So that’s something we’re working on a lot, and it’s good to have a little success, and we’ll build off that.”

Also building off success this coming week will be:

  • Jeff Locke, after booming a ball 50+ yards, coffin-corner to down the Lions inside their own five yard line.
  • Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri, continuing to out-kick Father Time, by coolly nailing a 42-yard field goal.
  • Running back Troymaine Pope, leading the offense by averaging a respectable 4.4 yards per rush on 7 carries (31 yards total) while scoring a touchdown on the game’s final play from scrimmage.

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