Indianapolis Colts: 7 Things We Learned About the Colts in the 20-23 Loss

Elyssa GutbrodContributor ISeptember 26, 2011

Indianapolis Colts: 7 Things We Learned About the Colts in the 20-23 Loss

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    The Indianapolis Colts have suffered yet another wrenching loss, this time against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    This week, despite losing yet another starting quarterback, the Colts were able to hang in the game until late in the fourth quarter.

    Honestly, against a team with a lesser offense than one led by Ben Roethlisberger, the Colts may have been able to send the game into overtime and possibly find a win. That’s a pretty big improvement over the past two weeks when they’ve been more or less blown out by their opponents.

    There were plenty of encouraging signs throughout the game, and a few discouraging ones. Over the next seven slides, we’ll explore some observations from the game and

Kerry Collins Is Not the Answer

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    Kerry Collins is not a bad quarterback. Quite the contrary: He’s a pretty good quarterback.

    That doesn’t make him the answer to the Colts’ problems as they forge ahead without Peyton Manning.

    Kerry Collins isn’t the same quarterback as Peyton Manning.  He never will be. His age, his lack of precision, and his nagging unfamiliarity with the Colts and their offense are killing the team offensively.

    The concussion tonight might have just sealed a deal that is already done.

Curtis Painter Has Potential, but Needs Experience

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    With Manning’s future in question, the Colts have got to start the process of grooming a replacement now. For the time being, that replacement looks to be Curtis Painter.

    He had a little bit of opportunity tonight due to the Collins concussion in the third quarter. While he wasn’t overly impressive—he missed a huge opportunity during his first series on the field and gave up a fumble that was run back for a touchdown—he does show some signs of potential.

    He’s got the arm, and his mistakes were not out of line for a third-string quarterback who is relatively new to the NFL. And let’s face it: Painter was intended to be the third-string quarterback.

    He’s been bumped up to backup quarterback and may find himself starting next week if Kerry Collins can’t go. His play so far is underwhelming but not awful, which is actually a little encouraging given that he played against the Steelers stingy defense.

    That being said, he’s still struggling to find his footing in the NFL. Next week is going to be a long, long game for the Colts with Painter at the helm.

Missed Opportunities Hurt

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    Tonight, despite a huge defensive performance during the second quarter, there were countless missed opportunities for game-changing big plays.

    If the receivers had just been able to hold on to catchable balls, the Colts could have had several touchdowns.

    If Kerry Collins had been able to seal the deal with a touchdown on the Rothlisberger interception in the second quarter, the game would have been different. The Colts might have won, or at least forced Pittsburgh to try for the end zone in the waning seconds of the game.

    Unfortunately, an inability to capitalize on the opportunity for big plays cost the Colts at the end of the day.

    Missed Opportunities Hurt

Joseph Addai Can Help – If the Colts Let Him

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    Although Peyton Manning has dominated the Colt’s offense for the past several years, they have quietly built themselves a reliable running game to go alongside him. With 17 carries tonight, Joseph Addai racked up 86 yards and a touchdown—5 yards per carry.

    With the problems the Colts are experiencing at quarterback, it might be time to turn to the running game for some answers. They proved that they can run it against one of the better run defenses in the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's time to apply that a step further and integrate the run game into the offense more prominently.

    Addai might not be the best running back in the league, but he’s certainly capable of giving the offense a much-needed boost.

The Colts’ Secondary Needs Help

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    The Colts’ defense is starting to make the adjustment to playing from behind each week, but it hasn’t been easy.

    The front line is really starting to step up, but the secondary is struggling to keep up with receivers. They’ve continued their trend of giving up long plays to other teams by allowing several long bombs by Pittsburgh.

    There are signs of life, to be sure. Picking off Ben Rothlisberger was a great start, and there were a number of other close calls where they could have come up big. There’s still a lot of room to grow, though.

    The Colts’ Secondary Needs Help

Dwight Freeney and the Defensive Line Stand Strong

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    The Colts may be having problems in other aspects of the game, but their defensive line was able to take the run game out of the picture against the Steelers.

    Dwight Freeney created opportunities. He sacked Ben Rothlisberger—no easy feat—twice. One of those sacks forced a fumble that was run back for a fumble that was run back to put the Colts back in the game in the second quarter.

    Rashard Mendenhall is one of the better running backs in the game, yet he was stuffed tonight. With 18 carries, he managed to put just 37 yards on the board—just over two yards per carry.

    If the Colts can get their passing defense together, the defense will be a huge contributor to whatever victories they can eke out this season.

The 13th Man Is Alive in Indianapolis

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    Despite a tepid offense, the Colts had a little bit of help on defense thanks to the home crowd. With the dome closed, it was clear that the roaring noise got under the offense’s skin in the beginning of the game.

    The fans may not be on the field and direct contributors, but they can make a difference. The Indianapolis Colts have definitely got a home field advantage comparable to any other in the league.