Forget it and move on.
That’s the mind set for the Indianapolis Colts coaches and players after Sunday’s 59-24 shellacking by New England.
The Colts dropped to 6-4 on the year with the one-sided loss, helped along considerably by Indianapolis’ continued penchant for turning the ball over in road games. Two of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s passes were intercepted and returned for touchdowns (covering 59 and 87 yards). Luck had three interceptions and was stripped of the ball once.
Adding to the Colts’ misery in Foxborough was a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown. Indianapolis fumbled three times against the Patriots but just lost one. Despite all the physical mistakes, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians says that the Colts can’t afford to dwell on the outcome of the New England game.
It’s time to move on and prepare for Sunday’s home match up with the Buffalo Bills.
“We were in [the game] and playing very good. But within a matter of three minutes, basically gave the game away and couldn’t get back out of that hole,” Arians said Monday, referring to the fact that Indianapolis led 14-7 with 1:44 left in the first quarter and were only down 24-17 at the half.
New England, though, blitzed the Colts in the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns and led 38-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
“[We] had a shot at maybe 31-17 to get it to a closer game but couldn’t get an [offensive] drive mounted. I give credit to [New England]. They came out and played extremely well. But we gave them some gifts and they were more than thankful for it,” the veteran assistant coach said.
“But we learned and that’s the process that this young team is going to go through each time that we step into a big arena. We have to learn something. And we definitely learned something in this ballgame.”
And what can be learned in a 25-point blowout loss on the road?
“First of all, we learned that we can compete. That was the biggest thing. We came out of the game knowing that we can compete with anybody on the road. Once we learn how to protect the football better and to get off the field on third down, defensively, I think the sky’s the limit for our ballclub,” Arians said.
“I’m anxious to get going again this week. There were so many good things on the [game] film. When you get past all the obvious negatives, there were some really good things. I think our guys are excited about getting back at home and seeing what we can do [Sunday vs. Buffalo at Lucas Oil Stadium].”
On the bright side — The good news, though, is that the team is still firmly in contention for an AFC wild-card playoff spot.
While the Colts lost to New England, the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped a 13-10 decision to Baltimore. Indianapolis and the Steelers remain as the prime contenders for the two available wild-card positions.
Luck, as well the rest of the Colts squad, aren’t going to worry about the playoffs just yet, though. Trying to rebound with a solid win over Buffalo is the biggest goal right now.
“I think I’m still one game at a time. We have to win and obviously I think that goes hand-in-hand with one game at a time. I try not to focus too much on that but I do realize that is obviously one of the end goals but it starts this weekend,” he said Monday.
Arians agrees. And don’t mention the post-season to him either.
“Not yet. We just have to control this week. We have to control Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just keep adding them up. If we start worrying about playoffs, we’ll end up six-and-10,” he said.
Right idea, wrong result — Luck’s three interceptions in the New England game weren’t the result of going to the wrong receiver.
“Both pick sixes he was throwing to the exact perfect read. There were technical errors. He slid a little bit, slid up, dropped his elbow to get away from the rush and threw a high one down the middle which you never want to do. Then he threw it out late,” Arians explained.
“I think he wanted the corner route, through the out late and threw it low and inside. That’s death. So that’s the process of just playing at that speed. You learn. And if he was throwing to the wrong guys, into coverage and those type of interceptions, then you’d worry about him. But he was dead spot on with his reads and his targets were perfect. He just missed them.”
Making comparisons — Most fans tend to compare the rookie Luck to what they see of a veteran Peyton Manning.
Here’s an interesting take: As a rookie against New England in 1998, Manning completed 21-of-33 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown and had three passes intercepted in a 29-6 loss. Cornerback Ty Law returned one interception 59-yards for a touchdown. Manning ended the game with a 51.1 passer rating.
Luck’s final stats Sunday showed him completing 27-of-50 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns and had three passes intercepted with two being returned for TDs. His passer rating was 63.3.
Injury list — Wide receiver Donnie Avery (concussion), defensive end Cory Redding (hip) and cornerback Teddy Williams (calf) were all hurt in the New England game. None of the three returned.
Arians said Monday that he won’t know about their availability for Sunday’s home game with Buffalo until Wednesday at the earliest. He did say that cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) might be ready to return after sitting out the previous three games.
Rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman (knee) was a game-day inactive for the Patriots. His issue seems to be more related to stamina rather than his knee, which was surgically-repaired in January. Chapman was added to the active roster last week after sitting out the team’s spring workouts, training camp practices and the early portion of this season.