Colts lose another close one in frustrating 3-12 season

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) looks back at the sidelines after his field goal attempt falls short of the goal posts during the first half of an NFL football game against Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Saturday, Dec 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

BALTIMORE (AP) The game played out as many had before, complete with an ending that was both predictable and painstakingly familiar.

If you’re a fan of the Colts, then you’re quite used to this scenario: Indianapolis keeps the game tantalizingly close, gets into position to pull out a win and then falls short.

And so it went Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. Two-touchdown underdogs against a team that needed a win to remain in the playoff hunt, the Colts pushed the Ravens to the limit before falling 23-16.

Indianapolis used a blocked by punt by Anthony Weaver and the poise of quarterback Jacoby Brissett to move to the Baltimore 10 in the closing minutes. But a third-down sack and a fourth-down incomplete pass ended the upset bid and left the Colts (3-12) with their sixth straight defeat.

”There are no moral victories. We understand that,” coach Chuck Pagano said. ”But this is a resilient bunch and a group that, disappointment after disappointment after disappointment, they keep coming back, they go to work and they compete and prepare.

”They played their guts out today. They played their hearts out and we came up short again.”

Haven’t we heard this before?

”We played good. We’re just not finishing,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said. ”Today we had our chance to make a play and we didn’t. They just made more plays than us.”

It’s a familiar refrain from the Colts, who have lost half a dozen games by seven points or fewer.

In this one, Indianapolis didn’t commit a turnover against the team that leads the league with 33 takeaways. They did enough good things to win – but didn’t.

”It’s very frustrating,” running back Frank Gore said. ”We’re fighting, we’re playing hard as a team. The dice are just not rolling our way.

”With me being in the league for so long, it would be easy for these guys to say, `Forget it.’ But we’re not. We’re going out there every week, fighting and scratching.”

They’ll do it one more time next Sunday, at home against Houston. It might be coach Chuck Pagano’s last game with Indianapolis, but it’s a safe bet the Colts won’t go out with a flat performance.

”We seem to be playing well enough to stay in games,” kicker Adam Vinatieri said. ”We’ve played some good teams very tough, but we haven’t been able to win. This may sound old, but this is the best 3-12 team that I’ve ever known of. When you look at a team that has a 3-12 record, you think these guys are terrible. But we aren’t, and any team that plays us knows that.”

The Ravens certainly do.

”They have a good football team,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ”They were physical, they were tough.”

But not quite good enough to win. Again.

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