Colts trying to forget mistakes, focus on future
The Indianapolis Colts have spent most of this season doing many things well.
On Monday, the Colts were mulling over what went wrong in Houston.
''Obviously we left points on the field with the fumble on the goal line and then the penalty on the touchdown pass,'' interim coach Bruce Arians said.
From blocking breakdowns to missed tackles, turnovers to blocked punts, there was plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of Sunday's 29-17 loss to the Texans, a defeat that allowed the Texans to wrap up their second straight AFC South and prevented Indy from clinching an improbable playoff berth.
The film sessions made this week's mission perfectly clear: Show the rest of the league that the mistake-prone team everyone saw in Houston will not be the same one that arrives in Kansas City this week or, presumably, in the playoffs - if Indy can get that elusive 10th victory.
Sure, J.J. Watt made things tough on rookie Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense, receiver Andre Johnson went over 100 yards and Arian Foster topped the 160-yard mark against Indy yet again.
But the biggest problems for Indy were self-inflicted.
Mewelde Moore fumbled the ball at the Texans 1-yard line in the first half. A holding penalty on Kellen Heard nullified Reggie Wayne's acrobatic double toe-tap for what would have been a touchdown. And Dwayne Allen whiffed on a block in punt protection, allowing Houston to block the kick and return it for a score.
''I was set too far back,'' Allen said Monday. ''The kick I had was perfect for pass protection but not for a punt.''
While Indy (9-5) has been far from perfect this season, it's rarely made this many costly errors in one game.
That's why the Colts have won a league-high eight times in one-possession games and Luck has rallied his team six times in the fourth quarter, an NFL rookie record.
This time, the luck ran out and the Colts are forced to make quick fixes - a process complicated by a long list of injuries.
Arians has already ruled out running back Delone Carter (ankle), starting linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), starting center Samson Satele (ankle) and starting safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) against the Chiefs (2-12).
The biggest concern, though, is the banged-up offensive line. Watt finished with 10 tackles, three sacks and six tackles for loss against Indy's makeshift unit that will be scrambling to find even more bodies this week.
Right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) sat out against the Texans and Arians couldn't say whether Justice would make it back this week. Satele's backup, A.Q. Shipley, limped off the field with a right knee injury with 28 seconds left Sunday and may not be able to play, either.
If both centers are out, right guard Mike McGlynn will move over and try to help protect Luck, who has already been sacked 37 times this season and taken dozens of more hits.
''As athletic as he is, he's taking some of them himself and it's not all protection,'' Arians said. ''As long as he's on the move and he's getting sacked, he's probably not in harm's way. When he gets drilled right to the face in the middle of the pocket, those are the ones you worry about.''
But as bad as Sunday's game looked, it was not nearly as lopsided on the field.
Indy trailed just 23-17 when it got the ball back with 13:31 left to play, then went three-and-out and allowed Houston to drive for a 46-yard field goal that made it a nine-point game.
Foster didn't top 100 yards until Houston's final possession, and despite all of the miscues, Luck still had a chance to rally the Colts late.
''I think all the guys, including myself, are going to be very critical of what they did, realize that if we want to become a better team, we are going to have to hopefully eliminate the mistakes that we made in this game,'' Luck said.
The veterans concur.
While they applauded Allen and others for taking the blame for some of the miscues, defensive linemen Dwight Freeney and Cory Redding are looking toward the future and a second chance to clinch a playoff spot this week in Kansas City.
''It's one week and whatever happened that one week, doesn't matter for the next, whether we win or lose,'' Freeney said. ''You just learn from the mistakes in a win and in a loss and just move on to that next week and that is the most important game.''
Note: Arians said he's still hoping head coach Chuck Pagano will return for the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston but acknowledged that is ''up in the air.'' He said the Colts could know something definitive later this week and that they could have him back full time at the team complex next Monday. Arians said his longtime friend ''feels great'' and ''looks good'' and that his is white-blood cell counts are good.
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