Frank Gore insists he’s all about winning, regardless of the workload.
But it’s fair to say the Indianapolis Colts didn’t utilize their new running back enough in Sunday’s 27-14 loss at Buffalo. Gore ran for seven yards on the game’s opening play. Then had just seven more rushes for 24 yards.
Not that he was trying to be critical of his new employers, but the 11th-year pro admitted the obvious about his skill set, that he gets stronger as the game goes along.
Because the Bills were crowding the defensive box with eight-man fronts, the Colts called 18 consecutive pass plays during the first half. The visitors never had a run-pass balance, and were unable to score until late in the third quarter. The Colts, who fell behind 17-0 by halftime, eventually called 51 pass plays and just 17 run plays.
“You’re a football player, you want to get into a rhythm in a game,” Gore said Friday. “I feel like the more I play the better I get. But I just want to win, though. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. If it’s running, passing, I’m willing to do it.”
It also didn’t help that Gore came down with calf cramps in the second half.
Quarterback Andrew Luck conceded Thursday “it’s vital” to get Gore more involved when the Colts host the New York Jets (1-0) on Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who has been preaching the importance of a power run game since the 2014 preseason, assured the Colts will run the ball.
“Yeah, we’ll have balance. We’ll have balance,” Hamilton said. “And during the game, it’s not a situation necessarily where I’m studying a hit chart. We’re looking at what they’re doing and then more importantly what can we do to get first downs and try to score touchdowns.
“I think more than anything we have to stay away from the friendly fire and that’s just doing things that are going to stall drives. We feel like we’ve had a good week of practice and we feel good about the plan. We’re facing a really good defense in the New York Jets and we’re excited about Monday.”
Friendly fire are self-inflicted mistakes, such as center Khaled Holmes’ holding penalty that killed their opening drive. Luck had just completed a 27-yard pass to tight end Dwayne Allen to reach the Bills’ 23.
The Colts also committed three turnovers, two of them Luck interceptions. Luck had T.Y. Hilton open on the first interception but underthrew his Pro Bowl receiver. On the second interception, wide receiver Andre Johnson couldn’t win the one-on-one battle for the pass and tipped the ball to another defender.
“When things don’t go right for your team, you want to win,” Gore said. “But when you don’t get the win, that’s tough. You want to get right back into another game. We looked at the film, we made corrections and now we’re on to the Jets.”
Gore, who has rushed for 11,104 yards in his career, said he came close to breaking a couple of plays, the few chances he had. Late in the opening quarter, Luck overthrew him over the middle with a lot of room to run after the catch.
“Yeah, just little small things,” he said. “I think if we hit those plays the game is different. Penalties, if we don’t get penalties, last week the game is different. We’re past that. We’re trying to clean up everything we made mistakes on last week and hopefully we get a win this Monday.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano insisted Thursday it’s important to use all three backs so the 32-year-old Gore stays fresh.
Gore reiterated he doesn’t dwell on how many carries he gets.
“I just feel like when I’m not getting the ball, what can I do to help my team win?” he said. “And that’s blocking. If I have to block, I’m willing to do it. I just want to win.”
It stands to reason, if the Colts are going to win, Gore can contribute a lot more.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.