5 Things Learned: Valiant Effort Not Enough For Colts
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INDIANAPOLIS – The effort ranked right up there with any the Colts have had this year.
But in the end, the result was the gloomy feeling that has defined so much of the 2017 Colts.
What did we learn from the Colts (3-7) blowing yet another double-digit, second-half lead and ultimately losing 20-17 to the Steelers (7-2)?
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
- Another ‘Almost’: No one could have seen this coming. A first-quarter interception and a sack of Ben Roethlisberger. An early lead that carried into the fourth quarter. An offense that was producing despite T.Y. Hilton being held in check. But the Colts could not sustain things as double-digit home underdogs. For the fifth time in seven losses this season, the Colts watched a second-half lead completely disappear. Only an eternal optimist would have picked the Colts going into Week 10. Yet, Chuck Pagano’s team played really solid football for large chunks of Sunday. But critical mistakes during the most untimely situations have the Colts heading into the bye as losers for a 7th time in 10 games.
- Defense Did Enough: We know the numbers the Steelers have put up in their recent dominance over the Colts. Even with a decimated group personnel wise, the Indy defense did enough on Sunday for the Colts to earn this upset victory. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. The NFL’s top receiver, Antonio Brown, had only 3 catches for 47 yards on 7 targets. The air assault that Pittsburgh usually shreds the Colts with was largely grounded on Sunday. Ted Monachino’s defense had played better in recent weeks. However, this test was a much truer barometer. And that group passed it. Before the game started, the Colts definitely would have signed up for giving up only 20 points.
- No Production Late: On the first drive of the second half, Chester Rogers’ 61-yard touchdown gave the Colts a 17-3 lead. The unraveling then unfolded for Jacoby Brissett and the offense. Pittsburgh’s strength this year has been a top-five defense. The Steelers played like that with their backs against the wall. The Colts finished the game with five drives after the Rogers’ touchdown. They managed just 2 first downs and 19 net yards in 20 plays. Those drives ended with 4 punts and a massive interception deep in their own territory. The Colts had no prayer in properly identifying and/or picking up free blitzers from the Steelers.
- Brissett Enters Concussion Protocol: As the clock neared 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jacoby Brissett still had yet to meet the media. Something was up. Indeed, something was up, after Brissett had been sacked 3 times and hit 9 times during Sunday's loss. The Colts announced that post-game symptoms were sending Brissett into the concussion protocol. Brissett initially was evaluated by team doctors following a late third quarter hit from Pittsburgh defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. The helmet hit from Tuitt appeared to strike Brissett in the head. Even though Brissett headed to the medical tent on two separate occasions, the QB did not miss a snap on Sunday. Here is how the Colts detailed Brissett going into the protocol: “Jacoby Brissett was evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter of today’s Colts – Steelers game. Colts team doctors administered a concussion evaluation, which Brissett passed and he was returned to the bench, but was not returned to the game. When the unaffiliated neurological consultant was available, he was returned to the tent and again passed a concussion evaluation. After the game in the locker room for several minutes, Brissett developed symptoms and is now in the concussion protocol.” With the Colts heading for a bye week, Brissett will have two full weeks to progress through the protocol, before he is needed for a game.
- Bye Week Evaluation: Mathematically, the Colts are on the verge of being eliminated from the AFC South picture. The final six weeks is about trying to get better and developing some younger guys. The offensive line and Brissett need to make sure they clean up the recent issues in pass protection. Defensively, the Colts could always use a double look at the big plays that have plagued them this year. Here is the remaining schedule for the Colts: Titans, @Jaguars, @Bills, Broncos, @Ravens, Texans.
-Pagano Quotable: On dropping a game the Colts again led in the fourth quarter: “You have to take it out of everybody else’s hands. You can’t rely on anybody but yourself to win football games. It’s disappointing and you’ve got a disappointed group in there. You had a golden opportunity to win a football game and beat a really good football team.”
-Player Quotable: Left tackle Anthony Castonzo: “To lose on the last second like that is especially disappointing, and to a very good team. When you have a really good team on the ropes like that, you can’t let them back in the game. We recognize that they were able to make plays and we just didn’t do it down the stretch.”
-Injury Report: It was not a pretty day on the injury report for the Colts. QB-Jacoby Brissett entered the concussion protocol after Sunday’s loss. These 3 players were also hurt on Sunday: TE-Darrell Daniels (hamstring), CB-Kenny Moore (concussion) and ILB-Darnell Sankey (hamstring). The Colts will go into their bye again looking at OLB-John Simon (stinger), who has missed three straight games.
-Key Stat: After Chester Rogers’ third-quarter touchdown, the Colts managed just 2 first downs on their final 5 drives.
-What’s Next: The Colts (3-7) are now headed for their bye week. After the bye, they will have six games remaining in the 2017 season (3 at home, 3 on the road).