Colts vs. Bengals: 5 Things We Learned from the Colts' 27-17 Loss
The only thing the Indianapolis Colts are winning right now is the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
The Colts fell in defeat for the sixth time this season Sunday, losing 27-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals. It drops the Colts' record to 0-6 on the season.
The 10-point loss was also the biggest margin of defeat for the Colts since Week 1, when they lost by 27 to the Houston Texans.
The Colts lost this game in a different fashion than their previous losses. Against the Bengals, the Colts clawed their way back into the game after trailing 20-7. They put up 10 consecutive points and had a field-goal opportunity to tie the game. But Adam Vinatieri missed the 52-yard attempt.
After the defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back to the offense, Pierre Garcon fumbled and the Bengals returned it for a touchdown. And the Bengals iced the cake by intercepting Curtis Painter, the first time any team has done that this season.
This team is close to a win, the ball just hasn't bounced their way yet this season. Here are five key lessons from the Colts' sixth loss.
The Colts' Secondary Is Overmatched
Is A.J. Green that good?
It's understandable for the secondary to struggle against a talent like Dwayne Bowe, but the defensive backs were once again lit up by the likes of Green, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell. That's unacceptable.
The DBs have to get more aggressive and just have to find a way to make plays. It's tough given how severely undersized they are, but they're in the NFL for a reason. It's time for them to prove it.
And when Andy Dalton throws the ball directly to Jerraud Powers, he has to come up with the interception.
Dallas Clark Is Still a Stud
Welcome back, Dallas Clark.
When Clark fumbled on the opening drive, it appeared as if it would be another long day for the tight end. But he redeemed himself, reeling in six balls for 53 yards, including a phenomenal touchdown grab.
It looked like Curtis Painter had airmailed the ball to a wide open Clark in the back of the end zone, but Clark leaped and plucked the ball out of the air with one hand. The touchdown brought the Colts to within a field goal of the Bengals.
Every athlete goes through a slump. Clark was in the heart of his for the past few weeks. But with a catch like that, he instantly snapped out of it and proved he's still a top tight end.
It was a classic Dallas Clark catch. Welcome back.
Pierre Garcon Is Still Inexperienced
Pierre Garcon made a rookie mistake Sunday. The problem is, Garcon is in his fourth season in the league.
With over two minutes remaining and the Colts down three points, Garcon appeared to try to lateral the ball to center Jeff Saturday before falling to the ground. It didn't work out so well, as the ball bounced straight into the Bengals' Carlos Dunlap's hands and he returned it for a touchdown.
First of all, there was no need to lateral the ball in that situation. There was plenty of time remaining. It was much more important to just keep possession and continue to drive down the field to get into field-goal range.
Secondly, why would you ever lateral to Jeff Saturday?
Pierre Garcon has had a great season, but Sunday proved he is far from the caliber of a Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison.
The Colts Can Keep Running Without Addai
Delone Carter quietly made his first NFL start Sunday in the absence of regular starter Joseph Addai. And he proved he is a very capable back.
Carter rushed for 45 yards on just 14 carries, a 3.2 yards-per-carry average. He showed good bursts, especially on first down, where he was able to put the Colts in good position for short second and third downs.
Donald Brown also left a good impression, something many Colts fans thought might never happen. Brown scampered to the outside for an 18-yard touchdown gallop in the second quarter, his first touchdown of the year. He racked up almost as many yards Sunday (35) as he had all season (38).
Granted, the team still failed to cross the century mark in rushing—it only ran the ball 23 times total. So 94 yards (4.1 average per rush) is very respectable.
This Team Has Heart
WIth another loss, people will start questioning whether this team will win any games this year.
Without question, it most certainly will.
It would have been easy for the Colts to just roll over Sunday after going down 20-7. The defense looked winded, and it didn't look like the offense was going to get anything going.
But then the Colts put together a drive. The defense made a stop. And that happened a few more times. Suddenly, the Colts were in position to tie the game.
Even after missing the field goal, the Colts were still in position to tie or even win after the defense came up with another stop. While Pierre Garcon did make a terrible mistake by trying to lateral, it shows how badly this team wants to win.
There will be no rolling over, no "suck for Luck" this year. This team has pride. This team cares. It has fight left in it.
The Colts are close, really close, to a win. The pieces just haven't all quite come together yet.
But they will soon. There's too much fight in this team.
To quote Cubs fans, "It's gonna happen."