The Indianapolis Colts failed to keep up with the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, but without Andrew Luck on the field it was more than a longshot for them to come away with a victory.
The Colts lost 28-7 to the Steelers. The saddest part of that score is that it represents progress over the last two beatings they suffered at the hands of the Steelers. Coach Chuck Pagano knew that it would take everything to win on Sunday, and pulled out all the stops. This too is progress (coaching to win instead of coaching not to lose) but it likely wouldn’t have happened had Andrew Luck suited up.
A pass from Pat McAfee on fourth down, think that happens with Luck on the field? Who knows, maybe they don’t have to punt in that situation. The way the Steelers secondary was play, Luck would have eviscerated their defense.
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Many have credited Scott Tolzien for his play, stating that he wasn’t the problem, but this is a false narrative. He was terrible under pressure, something Luck excels at. Drops hurt him (four on Thursday), but that has been a problem all season long for the offense. Tolzien was just 1-for-8 on deep balls, something Luck also excels at (the two interceptions are excusable as he was pressing to make something happen in desperation time).
Dwayne Allen even brought his good hands last night, and when he’s playing well the Luck led offense is much better.
Missed opportunities will be the story of this game. Two failed fourth down conversions in goal-to-go situations. A missed 52-yard field goal. Hilton dropping what would have been a touchdown. What seemed like every third and long given up by the defense.
That’s the problem with this team. without Luck they are flat out bad, with him they’re about average. He covers up so many flaws on the roster and is probably the only reason Pagano still has a job.
There isn’t much to dissect from Thursday night’s game. Had Luck played, they would have had a chance to win. The defense, after giving up three straight touchdowns, clamped down on the Steelers offense and kept them out of the endzone until late in the fourth quarter.
Now the Colts have two problems. One, their margin for failure is razor thin. The Colts really can’t afford another loss, which will be tough given the remaining schedule and will need to the Texans to drop a few along the way as well.
Second, the Colts suffered an awful lot of injuries last night. Center Ryan Kelly (shoulder) went out after a series. T.Y. Hilton took a vicious hit near the endzone and suffered a back injury. Vontae Davis (groin) left early as did Robert Mathis (elbow).
Luckily, the Colts will have until next Monday (December 5th) to get healthy. They’ll be at New York to face the Jets in a must win game.