The Indianapolis Colts lost Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 22-17 stunner after Jags QB Blaine Gabbert hit WR Cecil Shorts III for an 80 yard go-ahead touchdown with 45 seconds to go. The Colts had just driven down the field, allowing K Adam Vinatieri to boot a 37 yard field goal to take a 17-16 lead. Vinatieri missed an earlier field goal from 36 yards out. On the very first play following the field goal, the Colts defense allowed Shorts to get behind and the coverage and Gabbert made a perfect toss, allowing him to sprint into the end zone. The Jaguars failed on a two-point conversion, which enabled the Colts to take another shot. That ultimately ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone as time expired.
There are a lot of things one can point to in this game that went wrong. One is injuries; at various points, WR Austin Collie (again), C Samson Satele (again), CB Vontae Davis, and OLB Robert Mathis all went out with injuries. Give Mathis credit, he was able to get back in the game. But the depth at the other positions is getting a little thin, and that showed at the end of the Jaguars game.
You have to feel for Austin Collie. With his latest injury (to the knee), his season – and likely his Colts career – is over. Jim Irsay is tired of paying and holding roster spots for guys who can’t stay on the field. Call it the Bob Sanders syndrome. Its victims include TE Dallas Clark (now in Tampa), Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Addai (both signed with the Patriots in the offseason but were cut before training camp), and to some extent, Peyton Manning himself. Injuries have always seemed to hit this team a little harder than others, and now without the veteran leadership and team cohesiveness it once had, those injuries are becoming much more difficult t over come.
Another thing you can look at are the penalties. In this game, the Colts were flagged for 11 penalties amassing 106 penalty yards. There were some questionable calls (and one very questionable non-call, more on that in a moment), but replacement refs or not, you can’t give your rookie quarterback 1st and 15 or 2nd and 15 with bad pass protection and expect him to pull you out of it. Even if he is a good as Andrew Luck has looked so far, the interception to Paul Posluzsny notwithstanding.
And the worst of all is the run defense. I was never able to fathom how the Colts can NEVER manage to slow down running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Prior to this game, Jones-Drew had managed a total of 137 yards. Yesterday he tore threw the Colts and went for 177 yards on 28 carries, and scoring a touchdown. Every single person sitting in the stands knows that MJD will get the ball. You have Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. Despite the 80-yard play in the 4th, Gabbert isn’t exactly John Elway. You need to crowd the box and get penetration. But year after year, the Colts fail to stop the run against the Jaguars.
Regarding the refs, the only real beef I have with this game is the throw in the end zone to Reggie Wayne on 2nd down with seven seconds to go. I don’t care who you are or what team you root for, when a defensive back knocks on the back of the head of a receiver and isn’t even looking at the ball, its pass interference. That play could have won the game for the Colts, but they shouldn’t have allowed an 80 yard pass to begin with.
The bottom line for the Colts is that they are doing what bad teams do. Until they can learn to clean up the mistakes (again, regardless of the refs), they will continue to lose. The Colts have a bye week this week and will have an opportunity to clean some of these issues up and get healthy again. They have a big test on October 7th against Green Bay.
Follow me on Twitter @expertfan1