What qualified as real news Thursday night in Indianapolis was restricted to a chatty NFL owner in a TV booth and a retractable roof not cooperating and showering fans with metal parts.
That’s how an NFL preseason came to an agonizingly, uninteresting end for the Indianapolis Colts, who lost 9-6 to the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The annual I-74 rivalry concludes the exhibition season and is the last chance for players on the bubble to make a lasting impression for a roster spot before Saturday’s 4 p.m. EDT deadline to trim the player list from 75 to 53.
But a game with five field goals qualifies as ho-hum. Fortunately for the home team, the Bengals missed a kick in the fourth quarter to add to the drama, or lack thereof.
Colts fans watching the Fox-59 TV broadcast in Indianapolis received a surprise guest as owner Jim Irsay visited the booth. Irsay said outside linebacker Robert Mathis would be back in the lineup some time in September. On a slow game day, this qualified as important. The six-time Pro Bowl star missed 2014 with a left Achilles tendon tear.
Irsay had previously speculated during training camp that Mathis, the team’s all-time sack leader, might not return until late September or early October. Mathis came off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list a week ago and is practicing with the team.
Some other news proved rather painful. Temperatures at or near the 90s prompted the decision to keep the stadium’s roof and window closed for the opening kickoff. The plan was to open the roof at halftime. In the process of doing that, parts fell into the stadium seats. Numerous Twitter reports from fans in the stadium reported the debris hit at least one woman, who was led away by security with a towel held to a head wound.
After the game, Capital Improvement Board executive director Barney Levengood released a statement: "With approximately two minutes remaining at halftime at the Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals game this evening at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, there was an occurrence with the movement of the retractable roof. The roof was in the process of being opened for the sdcond half of the preseason game. A bolt from the fixed structure sheared and dropped into seating section 248 (located in the northwest corner of the lower seating bowl). The movement of the roof was stopped immediately and stadium authorities were notified.
"On-site medical personnel deemed all injuries to be non-life threatening. One female and one male were attended to by I.U. Health medical personnel and then transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The third person was a male who was treated and released on site." ird person was a male who was treated and released on site.”
As for the game, the Colts had their share of wounded, too.
Running back Vick Ballard, whose sentimental story has been the buzz of preseason as he tries to come back from two season-ending injuries, unfortunately tweaked a hamstring and left the game early. His inability to stay healthy in August likely means the fourth-year pro will soon be out of a job.
So did reserve linebacker Junior Sylvestre, who hobbled off in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Sylvestre, undrafted out of Toledo, led the Colts with six tackles and had one sack.
After the game, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed starting defensive tackle Arthur Jones will need ankle surgery. Jones was hurt on the first play of the previous preseason game at St. Louis. The team has yet to announce a timetable for the defender’s return. He’s likely placed on injured reserve with a designation to return.
Back to the game, Colts third-string quarterback Bryan Bennett threw three interceptions and lost one fumble — the latter led to Obarski’s deciding kick with 2:49 remaining.
The teams combined to convert just 6-of-27 third downs.
The Colts finish the preseason 1-3 — and have lost eight of their last nine exhibitions. The Bengals were 3-1.
Finally, it’s time to trim the roster and to start playing the games that count.
And the City of Indianapolis has until Sept. 21 to get that retractable roof fixed for Monday Night Football.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.