The Indianapolis Colts are undoubtedly upset, and should be with themselves.
From quarterback Andrew Luck to other players in the locker room to head coach Chuck Pagano, Sunday’s 27-21 home loss to the New Orleans Saints couldn’t prevent them from venting about their surprisingly poor play.
“Yeah, I’d say I’m frustrated up here,” Luck said, after throwing two interceptions and being sacked three times as the Colts were shut out in the first half by the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense. “I think as a unit, we’re frustrated and I’m frustrated with myself. Some egregious turnovers.”
Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis insisted his team is better than 3-4, but that’s the record and the reality.
“Our biggest problem is identifying what the problem is,” Mathis said. “Once we do that, we’ll be OK.”
The problems were everywhere in this game. The Colts couldn’t score, get defensive stops and turned the ball over, even on special teams.
Pagano said he challenged his players at halftime, when the Colts trailed 20-0. The deficit grew to 27-0 before the home team mounted a comeback that proved to be too-little-too-late.
“You’re not going to win too many football games in the National Football League when you turn the ball over and you have penalties and you have miscues and you have the error that happened in special teams, inability at times to stop the run and couldn’t run it,” Pagano said.
The Colts had three turnovers to the Saints’ one. The Colts committed seven penalties for 42 yards, but two wiped out gains for first downs.. Griff Whalen fumbled away a punt return and the Colts got burned by a fake field goal that set up the Saints’ initial touchdown.
And after the Colts rallied to make it a one-score game late, wide receiver Donte Moncrief batted the onside kick back onto the playing field where Colt Anderson had the ball in his hands and couldn’t maintain possession.
The Saints recovered and iced the game to improve to 3-4 after their third consecutive win.
Drew Brees completed 28-of-44 passes for 255 yards and one score with one interception. Backup Luke McCown completed a 25-yard pass on the fake field goal. The Saints rushed for 183 yards on 36 carries (5.1 yards per carry) with three TDs on the ground.
“I don’t think you can come out and play a team like that for one half,” Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “You got to put a good game together.”
The Colts most certainly did not.
“We kind of beat ourselves turning the ball over, missed tackles, mental errors,” outside linebacker Erik Walden said. “Any time you come into a game the first half against a team like that and the offense, speaking for the defense against Drew Brees, you cannot do that.”
The Colts now visit Carolina (5-0) on Monday Night Football in eight days. While they still lead the porous AFC South by a game plus the tiebreaker, that’s small consolation considering how the team is playing.
“I think it was everybody,” wide receiver Andre Johnson said, “offense, defense and special teams, the whole team. It’s not like it was just one person.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.