Notebook: Old Problems Resurface in Loss

As good as the Indianapolis Colts offense has been this past season, and it was pretty good for most of the year, the lack of quality possessions was one of the differences in the team's Super Bowl XLIV loss to the New Orleans Saints.

"Every possession felt precious out there," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said after the game. "I was disappointed on the first series (of the game) having to settle for a field goal. Then we had a third-down drop (of a pass) which stopped another drive. Had a third drive where we got stopped and then moved the ball pretty well in the second half when we had it."

As much as offensive possessions, or rather the lack of them, was key, so was the inability of the Colts to come up with the football on an onsides kick attempt to begin the second half.

"The onside kick was huge. As a special teams captain on the team, I feel like we kind of didn't do what we were supposed to do. We always talk about the little thing and that (the onsides kick) was a little thing that was huge," said safety Melvin Bullitt.

"If we would've gotten the ball right there, maybe on the 40-yard line going in, the game could've went a totally different way. (New Orleans) scored on that drive immediately. And we just didn't capitalize on defense."

Another problem was an old one that raised its head once again — getting off the field defensively on third down.

"You have to put forth a better effort," said linebacker Clint Session. "You have to come together and do something, get off the field on third down."


— Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney started the game at right end despite missing all of the team's practices since suffering a third-degree sprain and a torn ligament in his right ankle in the AFC Championship Game. He was very effective in the first half, showing his trademark spin moves and bull-rushing Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod right into the pocket for a sack of quarterback Drew Brees.

But the long halftime intermission gave the ankle time to stiffen up. Freeney had it re-wrapped and was seen changing socks on the sideline, but wasn't as effective in the second half as he was in and out of the game.

"I think, more or less, after the half there was more stiffness," Freeney said. "I kept on running back and forth (on the sideline), trying to get it going again. ... Obviously it wasn't 100 (percent). It was kind of hard. It loosened a little bit in the second half."

— The Colts franchise is now 0-2 when wearing the home blue jerseys in a Super Bowl game. The last time that the Colts wear blue jerseys in a Super Bowl game was when the franchise lost to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had opportunities we just weren't able to take advantage of them." — Colts TE Dallas Clark on losing to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

"I think the Saints just made plays when they had to. The credit goes to them." — Colts LB Gary Brackett on the Super Bowl loss.

— CB Kelvin Hayden tweaked his shoulder after making a goal-line tackle in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLIV. He was able to return to the game.

— WR Anthony Gonzalez said prior to Super Bowl XLIV that his rehab from knee surgery is coming along right on schedule. Gonzalez expects to be able to resume regular offseason work when official conditioning sessions begin in March.

— LB Tyjuan Hagler is hopeful of returning to the Colts next season, both from an injury standpoint and from a contractual standpoint. Hagler incurred a season-ending torn bicep injury this year. He also signed a one-year contract with the Colts during the summer. He would like to be back with Indianapolis next year but will look at all his options.

— S Bob Sanders is expected to be back 100 percent from a torn bicep injury that sidelined him for most of the 2009 regular season. Sanders struggled with a shoulder problem during training camp and early in the season as well.

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