Indianapolis Colts lose fourth game in five as their playoff aspirations plummet
In what now seems like ages ago, the Colts have gone from sitting atop their division, controlling their own destiny at 5-2, to losing four of their last five games, ultimately leaving them placed third in AFC South. Sunday’s 17-31 loss to division-rival Tennessee has put this team in a tough position moving forward, as they’re going to need a lot of help in order to make it into the playoffs for a second straight season.
There were too many negative plays for Indianapolis to overcome yesterday. Whether it was the special teams' blunders or the two costly interceptions thrown by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, yesterday was a day to forget offensively for the 'Cardiac Colts'.
For the first time all season, Jacoby Brissett threw two bone-headed and inexcusable interceptions. As a result, the Colts went from being up 17-7 late in the third quarter to ultimately letting the Titans right back in it after surrendering 10 points on both turnovers.
This is a Colts passing offense that has been mediocre at best this season. They currently rank 26th in total passing yards garnered per game with 204.8. Now, to be fair, Indy’s certainly been on the bad end of the NFL’s injury bug as many of their starting offensive pieces (wideouts T.Y. Hilton, Paris Campbell and Devin Funchess, tight end Eric Ebron, running back Marlon Mack) are either currently on IR or have missed significant amounts of time over the course of this season.
However, that’s not to say that other teams haven’t had to overcome injuries at some point during their season, either. The bottom line is, it’s December, and the teams that aspire to be playing football come January, find a way to overcome whatever deficiencies they may be facing.
The Colts, as has been the case for the majority of their season, have had an abysmal aerial attack accompanied by a ridiculous and inexcusable amount of kicking issues coming from the future Hall of Famer, Adam Vinatieri.
It's quite clear that Vinatieri – who’s been about as clutch a kicker as the two teams he’s played for (New England and Indianapolis) could’ve asked for – has suddenly lost whatever magic he once had in that right leg of his.
Indy’s sluggish passing offense notwithstanding, one would have a legitimate argument that this unit's special teams play – specifically Vinatieri, has cost the Colts a minimum of two games this season. The fans in Indianapolis have gone from cheering and chanting when the kicking unit trots on the field, to suddenly becoming squeamish while trying not to look away.
Ultimately, Indianapolis has gone from a fundamentally sound football team to not being able to close when it matters the most. And, as great as the defense has been over the last seven to eight weeks, they too deserve some of the blame for yesterday’s loss.
They allowed Ryan Tannehill, who was 4-1 as a starter coming into yesterday’s match-up, to complete 17-of-22 (77% completion rate), for 182 yards and two passing touchdowns. Tannehill may have not sliced up the Colts' secondary, but he certainly did enough to help his team come out of that game victorious.
Running back Derek Henry had quite the afternoon himself, as he gashed Indy’s rushing defense – who hadn’t allowed an opposing running back to rack up 100 yards in almost two seasons – for 149 yards (5.7 YPC) and one rushing touchdown.
There's plenty of blame to go around for Indy's struggles this season. There's no doubt about that. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the Colts are what their record says they are – a 6-6 football team that, although has had some bright spots this season, has had too many issues in other key areas, such as kicking and the passing game, to overcome being a .500 football team.
This isn't a bad football team, not even close. In fact, the future's quite bright with all of the young and ascending players that the Colts have to continue to build around. They certainly have the right coach and GM in Frank Reich and Chris Ballard respectively.
Alas, the Colts over the last month and a half have continued to put the “C” in Cardiac, as Sunday’s disappointing loss might’ve just put their playoff aspirations to bed.