News From Terre Haute, Indiana


September 19, 2011

Colts’ second week as painful as first

INDIANAPOLIS — A week removed from a 34-7 season-opening National Football League loss to the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts didn’t fare much better in their home opener Sunday with the Cleveland Browns.

Despite a somewhat promising start to the game, the Colts sent most of an announced crowd of 65,035 home disappointed as Cleveland came away with a 27-19 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. The loss dropped Indianapolis to 0-2 for the first time since 1998.

With Pittsburgh coming to town for a nationally televised night game this week, the road doesn’t get much easier for the defending AFC South champions. The Colts are in struggle mode right now and need to find a way to get things turned around in a hurry.

“You know, obviously, we were disappointed in our performance. I think we did some things a little bit better. But that’s not what we’re measured by around here. We’re measured by winning and we failed to do so,” Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said afterward.

“I think in the first half we did some things pretty well. We ran the ball a little bit better. And I think we were able to keep [Cleveland running back Peyton] Hillis under control there in the first half. The score wasn’t quite what we like to see in the first half … we had to keep kicking field goals rather than putting touchdowns on the board down in the red zone.

“But we were still in it, we had a chance. And in the second half the turnovers made a huge difference. We sort had a stretch there where we self-destructed in a couple situations. We just didn’t get off the field enough [defensively] on third down. Offensively, conversely, we didn’t convert enough on third down. So we have to work on those things and get better.”

The Colts marched 67 yards in 10 plays on the first drive, scoring on a 39-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Indianapolis came out at the start of the game in a hurry-up offensive set with quarterback Kerry Collins setting up in the shotgun. But Collins failed to connect with wide receiver Austin Collie on consecutive passes at the Cleveland 21-yard line, forcing Vinatieri into the game.

Indianapolis added a 27-yard field goal on its third possession of the game, driving 78 yards in 10 plays. The Colts were knocking at the door with a third-and-1 at the Cleveland 9-yard line, but rookie running back Delone Carter was stopped for no gain.

The Browns finally got their offense untracked and scored on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Colt McCoy to backup tight end Evan Moore with 7:53 remaining in the second quarter.

Vinatieri’s third field goal of the game, from 52 yards out, put the Colts back on top 9-7 late in the second quarter. That wound up being the last time that Indianapolis would be in control of the game for the rest of the afternoon.

Cleveland added a 1-yard run by Hillis, the first of two touchdowns he had on the day, with 15 seconds left in the first half to put the Browns on top 14-9. Phil Dawson later had field goals from 20 and 23 yards out and Hillis scored his second TD on a 24-yard run.

The Colts’ only second-half scoring came courtesy of a 36-yard field goal by Vinatieri with 6:52 left in the third quarter and a 6-yard pass from Collins to tight end Dallas Clark with 24 seconds remaining in the game.

The Colts’ passing game, which accounted for 191 yards, sputtered in the second half. In fact, prior to the Colts’ final offensive possession of the day, Collins — who completed 19 of 38 passes — had misfired on nine straight throws and had one intercepted.

“I think [Collins] did some things better,” Caldwell said, referring back to the quarterback’s initial performance of the year at Houston a week earlier. “The other thing is you certainly can’t pin it all on one person at one time. This is a team game.

“[We have to] go back to work. That’s the thing we have to do. And that’s the tough thing about where we are. But it is going to take some resolve, take some focus and I think our guys are up to the challenge. We have to get that straightened away.”

Perhaps the biggest bugaboos for the Colts after two weeks of the season have been the team’s failure to convert on third down offensively and getting off the field defensively on third down. Indianapolis was 4 of 14 on third down while the Browns were 8 of 16. Cleveland also converted on its only fourth-down opportunity.

“Two weeks in a row not being able to concert on third down,” the Colts coach winced. “That is a crucial down. That’s where you make your money. We have to be better in that area.”

One of the few bright spots for Indianapolis was the continued development of the running game. Joseph Addai had 46 yards in 14 carries while Carter came off the bench to added 46 yards in 11 carries. The Colts averaged 4.2 yards on 26 carries as a team.

“I think Joseph had some pretty good runs and the offensive line created some creases,” Caldwell said. “Delone Carter also had some good runs as well. I think that’s a plus. And that’s what we’re going to have to be able to do. If we can’t run the ball, then we’re going to certainly fight an uphill battle consistently. We did show a little progress in that area. But certainly not nearly enough.”

The Indianapolis defense did a fairly good job on the hard-running Hillis, who finished with 94 yards in 27 carries and caught four passes for an additional 23 yards. McCoy completed 22 of 32 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.

Strongside linebacker Kavell Conner had a team-high 10 tackles for the Colts. Defensive end Dwight Freeney had their only sack of the game, the 95th sack of his NFL career. He also forced the 42nd fumble of his career.

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