It’s taken some time to recover from the Indianapolis Colts’ 42-20 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Heather Hill Lloyd, a.k.a. The Blue Mare, returns in her weekly chat with Phillip B. Wilson to discuss an ugly game, what’s next for the Colts and advise it's not as bad as it seems after an awful outcome.
Phil B: Can we not talk about Sunday night or do we have to?
Heather: I think we have to, unfortunately. I don’t think the Colts want to talk about it. I don’t think the fans want to talk about it. But we can probably recap a little bit before we move onto Jacksonville.
Phil B: OK, well, let’s spin the positive. The Colts scored 20 points against a really good Patriots team. How about that?
Heather: (Laughs.) They did. Is there any more?
Phil B: That tied a season low.
Heather: Andrew Luck had time to throw. That was good. I’ll say that. I don’t think he had as much pressure on him as maybe I expected him to have. That was a positive, definitely. Coby Fleener had a great game. That’s a positive.
Phil B: He did. I’m going to have to interview him today. Pat McAfee averaged more than 50 yards a punt. Adam Vinatieri made both of his field goals to extend his streak to 28 consecutive field goals without a miss.
Heather: A 53-yard field goal by a 41-year-old kicker is no small thing. That was huge. I have to say, I did close my eyes. I was glad to hear the cheers when my eyes were closed. I always say, ‘You never second guess him.’ When he goes out there, you almost don’t even think about it because he’s so automatic. He just nails it. The guy has still got it.
Phil B: He told me he drilled it.
Heather: Really, you can never 100 percent count on it, but with him, you can count on it 98 percent of the time.
Phil B: In all seriousness, how has your grief therapy coming along? I mean, hopes were up so high. Maybe we thought the Patriots would win, but we didn’t think they would annihilate the Colts.
Heather: No, I really expected a very close, high-scoring game. I said if the score got to 40 points or higher, I kind of thought the Patriots had an advantage. That’s exactly how it turned out. I just didn’t expect for us to be at 20 points when that happened. I guess I was expecting the old days with a shootout offensively. Again, that didn’t happen. But, we’re talking playoff teams here. I think a couple of years ago, I would have taken this loss more seriously. I still feel like this is a Colts team that’s building up to be what it’s going to be some day. Yes, of course, we would have liked to have seen a better performance. There’s a lot of stuff that they can take away from this game, and I hope they will. But in the grand scheme of things, they lost to another playoff team and I think when you look at the AFC, I think everyone would say the Patriots are absolutely the favorites to win the AFC right now. No, we didn’t beat them in November. Does that mean the Colts couldn’t possibly beat them in January? Absolutely not. I’m not going to say this is the end-all, be-all of the Colts or their playoff hopes or them not being able to beat the Patriots this year. I’m going to say when they played them on Sunday Night Football in November, we didn’t beat them.
Phil B: Once upon a time, just recently, people were asking if this was the best ‘D’ ever in Indy. Now I don’t know if it’s the best ‘D’ in the last five years or so.
Heather: And the funny thing, it’s only been a few weeks.
Phil B: You had a Pittsburgh game where the Steelers threw the ball a ton. Now you have a Patriots game where they couldn’t have been more elementary in running the ball up the gut. You’ve got to be honest with me. You didn’t know who running back Jonas Gray was, right?
Heather: Absolutely not.
Phil B: Good, because I thought I was the only one who didn’t do his homework.
Heather: No, I had no idea who he was. When he started running, me like everyone else Googled him and said, ‘Who is this guy?’ That is a little embarrassing. Over the years, those are the games, I know the Colts hate to make a star out of a no name. This is kind of one of those things where you have to think they’re going to carry this with them the rest of the season as motivation going forward.
Phil B: So the Colts return home to play Jacksonville, 1-9. Just what the doctor ordered?
Heather: I would say so, honestly. I know when we went down to Jacksonville in September, I was a little cautious just because we were playing the Jaguars in Jacksonville. I think this week you’ve got to turn that around and say not only do I not think the Jaguars are a dangerous team, based on what they’ve done from the last time that we played until now, but I also think they’re going to be the sacrificial lamb in the Colts coming back from that loss to the Patriots and proving to people that they’re still a very good football team.
Phil B: Where are you with the Colts? I’ve written my manifesto, good but not great, still got a ways to go, but don’t say bad because bad is coming this Sunday and there’s a lot of bad in the NFL.
Heather: Listen, when you look at the problems Jacksonville has right now, that’s night and day from the Colts. We’re talking about tweaking a talented roster with a lot of great weapons and making that work for them in the best way possible. Yeah, we have to fill some holes because of injuries. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (on injured reserve with fractured fibula), I’m not going to lie. That’s devastating.
Phil B: Doesn’t that break your heart?
Heather: Oh, it does. It’s not only the talent he had and what he brought on the field in numbers, yards and touchdowns and all that, I really thought he was the heart of the offense. He went out there and really put it all out there, not just every game but every play. You could see, every play, he wasn’t going to stop until the whistle blew. I know that’s the kind of guy you love to have on the team. It’s heartbreaking in every possible way. So when you look at filling holes, that’s a big one. But, yeah, the Colts have completely different issues than the Jacksonville Jaguars. We can be really thankful for that. Going forward, yeah, I feel like you do. I feel like they’re somewhere between a good team and a great team. My husband was driving home from work and heard defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois on local radio. My husband told me when he walked in the door, ‘Hey, Ricky is saying exactly what you’ve been saying this whole season. The Colts are not as great as they’ve been built up to be, but they’re also not as bad as they’ll be made out to be right now.’ I completely agree with that. There’s some progress that needs to be made and probably will be made between now and the playoffs. And, really, if they want to go deep in the playoffs, that has to happen.
Phil B: That’s why I love Ricky. He keeps it real. He’s one of my go-to guys. I talk to him regularly.
Heather: You’re completely right. He keeps it real. He’s totally accountable. He really tells it like it his. I appreciate that so much in a player. You love to hear that after a game. With him, there are no cliches. He’s not going to put lipstick on a pig. He’s just going to tell you exactly the way it is.
Phil B: How bad has it been interacting with Colts fans? Have you had to talk some people off the ledge. I know I’ve had to a few times. One guy came from New York and sent me a message that he couldn’t be a Colts fan anymore, now with Tom Brady and Company still around. He said, ‘We’re not worthy.’
Heather: I’ve only had one of those and it was on Facebook. It was kind of the same thing. It was, ‘Oh God, I just can’t do this with this team. We just don’t have the talent.’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Yeah, we do have the talent, but we’re molding the talent to try make that talent work together to create something great.’ I will say it wasn’t as much as maybe I would have expected. I think people were disappointed, but I don’t think necessarily think they were shocked and disappointed. I think that loss to Pittsburgh prepared us a little bit for the fact that it was certainly possible. I thought because we were playing them at home, that would give them a little bit of a leg up, but I don’t think anyone saw the Patriots game as a slam dunk anyway. I think the fans have been fairly reasonable, but when you couple the Bradshaw thing in there, hearing that he’s going to be out for the season now, there are certain people jumping off the ledge. You know what? I kind of say to those fans, ‘If that’s what you’ve got to do, do it. I’m not going to prevent you from jumping off the ledge. I’m just going to tell you it’s probably not a wise thing because in two weeks you might feel completely differently and then you might feel a little foolish.’
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.