Matt Hasselbeck blamed himself for the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive failures Sunday.
The 40-year-old quarterback re-injured his back and took a shot to the jaw that briefly sidelined him in the Colts’ 16-10 loss to the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 17th-year pro was already dealing with a rib separation that affected his breathing as well as a neck injury.
“Only one hurts at a time,” he said.
Then add the emotional pain of failure to the physical suffering. The offense didn’t score in the second half. The Colts (6-8) lost for the first time in 14 Houston Texans visits to Indianapolis.
A third consecutive setback likely sentences the Colts to an early offseason and no playoffs. ESPN estimates the Texans (7-7) have an 86 percent chance of winning the AFC South Division title, based on its Football Power Index.
“Today, I got nothing left,” Hasselbeck said, when asked how much he has in the tank with two regular-season games remaining. “I don’t know. We’ll practice Tuesday, we’ll see how I feel by then. I don’t know.
“All the focus was on today and trying to find a way to win today. I thought we had it, really thought we had it. Probably could have been more aggressive. Just kind of was in the mode of we win the turnover battle, we win the game. We win turnover ratio, we win the game.”
Each team had two turnovers. Hasselbeck took eight hits and two of the three sacks allowed. He completed 17-of-30 passes for 147 yards with an early touchdown and a final-possession interception.
Down 16-10 at the end, he thought wide receiver Donte Moncrief was going to take a different angle on a deep route. Moncrief didn’t even seem to see the pass until it was too late as cornerback A.J. Bouye caught the ball for a game-clinching turnover with 1:42 remaining.
“I just kind of feel like I let everybody down with not having a more accurate throw I guess,” Hasselbeck said.
The Colts managed just 72 total yards in the second half, a season-low 190 for the game. They converted just 4-of-13 third downs, 1-of-6 after halftime.
It wasn’t all on Hasselbeck, of course. The Colts couldn’t run the ball, finishing with just 50 yards on the ground, 2.6 yards per carry. Protection, again, didn’t hold up, which is why he’s so banged up in subbing seven games for an injured Andrew Luck.
“A warrior. A warrior,” tight end Dwayne Allen said of Hasselbeck. “All of our quarterbacks are warriors, the way that they have been able to take beatings game in and game out and come back each week and prepare and go out there and do their best to win.
“I can’t say enough about Matt and what he has done for this league, what he has done for this team. He has been a great leader on and off the field.”
After winning his first four starts, including at Houston, Hasselbeck has lost the last three. He couldn’t find Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had just three catches for 29 yards. The tight ends have been needed to block.
The Colts had a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Hasselbeck lamented how it could have been 14-0 if he had thrown an end-zone pass more outside to tight end Coby Fleener, who couldn’t come down with the ball in tight coverage.
“I think that’s just what it’s going to be like watching the film,” he said. “It’s going to be disappointing. You can sit there and you’re going to say to yourselves or I’ll say to myself, ‘If we would have just done this or just done that.”
Hasselbeck was asked again if his physical issues will allow him to keep playing, even if cleared.
“I’m just going to give them what I got,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. It’s December and everyone’s a little bit banged up.”
But perhaps him more than others?
“Yeah, well, I just get more attention,” he said.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.