The NFL’s worst-ranked defense shut out the Indianapolis Colts at home for a half Sunday.
Then after falling behind 20-0, the second half didn’t provide enough encouragement for the home folks until it was too late.
Lucas Oil Stadium’s roof and window were open to let the sun shine in on the eye-opening revelation that the Colts have serious issues. A 27-21 loss to the New Orleans Saints was confirmation.
Colts fans began to boo in the first quarter. That decibels from this understandable venting didn’t diminish until the fourth quarter, because of a comeback and the reality that many home fans had already departed.
Questions about head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff as well as general manager Ryan Grigson will inevitably become even more of a hot topic after such an ugly effort. That’s saying something because Pagano’s uncertain future has been a national conversation since the start of the season, and intensified after last Sunday night’s fake punt debacle against New England.
This time, every facet of the game contributed. The offense stunk. Andrew Luck was intercepted twice and sacked three times. The defense stunk. The Colts allowed the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees to have the ball for 38 minutes and 23 seconds to their 21:37. Special teams stunk. Not as bad as last week’s fake punt, but the Colts did fall for a fake field goal that set up the Saints’ initial score, Griff Whalen fumbled away a punt and Colt Anderson was unable to hang onto an onside kick late. And the ball was in his hands.
As fans began to exit in the third quarter, the Colts had to burn a timeout before a punt return because they had just 10 men on the field. Yeah, it was that kind of day.
Don’t let the final-quarter comeback fool you. This was a complete implosion in Indianapolis for most of the afternoon.
Remember when the Colts were sexy offseason picks as legit Super Bowl contenders? Pagano said at the outset this was his best team in four years. Owner Jim Irsay gushed about expectations.
Then splat. Or blink a few times and the home team is trailing 27-0 in the third quarter.
The Colts (3-4) have the same record as the Saints, but it’s the visitors who have won three in a row with a sense that they can still salvage something from this season. Not the boys in blue.
Two consecutive losses could eventually lead to an extended losing streak for the Colts, whose next game is on a Monday night at unbeaten Carolina, and then they return home to face unbeaten Denver. The Saints were supposed to be the easiest opponent during a challenging stretch that began with a 34-27 loss to the unbeaten Patriots last week.
The reality that the Colts are in the underwhelming AFC South Division and still in the first place after a disaster will do little to cheer up fans. It’s true, Jacksonville (2-5), Houston (2-5) and Tennessee (1-5) are so bad, they trail Indy.
But this was the year the Colts were supposed to be something. This was the year they were supposed to be contenders.
Instead, one game before reaching the mid-season point, these Colts are indeed pretenders once again. And after this Sunday, no way fans want to hear about how there’s still a lot of time to make something of this mess.
The Colts finally scored with 3:42 remaining as T.Y. Hilton caught an 87-yard scoring pass. The Saints defender fell down on the play.
This day, the Colts took whatever they could get because it wasn’t much. They scored twice more before the final gun.
But the Colts fans who stuck around to the end were still shaking their heads like those fans who had departed early.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.