Sloppy Play Once Again on Display as Colts Lose to Chiefs 30-14
With Halloween just around the corner, it would be appropriate to say the Indianapolis Colts' performance against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday was scary, but more often than not, an element of surprise is needed to scare, and nothing about the 30-14 loss was surprising.
Inefficient defensive play was an issue right out of the gate. On the Chiefs' first drive, tight end Travis Kelce caught 3 passes for 45 yards, leading to a Cairo Santos 33-yard field goal. It was the fourth time this season that the defense had allowed the opponent to score on their opening drive. Kelce finished the day with 101 yards receiving on 7 receptions with 1 touchdown. The defense has struggled against opposing tight ends this season so far, surrendering 64.9 yards receiving on average per game.
Alex Smith and Nick Foles split time for the Chiefs under center, as Smith was forced to leave the game twice with concussion-like symptoms, and was ruled out in the third quarter. In total, the two quarterbacks combined for 350 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill also had a strong game with 98 yards and easily scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Foles, a result of TJ Green falling in coverage.
Costly penalties and sloppy play continued to haunt the Colts against Kansas City. Two separate 40-yard or longer passes were negated due to holding penalties on the offensive line, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief, who returned from a shoulder injury after missing the last five games. Head coach Chuck Pagano has repeated all season long that the team needed to avoid "making it hard on themselves," meaning not doing things that help you lose games. On Sunday, Andrew Luck bobbled a handoff to Frank Gore leading to a recovered fumble by the Chiefs. Later on, with under a minute to play in the first half, Luck threw an interception deep in Colts territory, which set up a 17-yard touchdown pass the Jeremy Maclin. It was a poor decision by Luck to throw the ball in that situation, but one has to question what the coaching staff was thinking on the play. With under a minute to play in the second half, trailing by four and receiving the ball in the second half, running down the final seconds seemed inevitable. Rather than running down the clock deep in their own territory, the Colts elected to be aggressive when they didn't need to be, and ultimately, it cost them seven points.
"We took a step back today. That's obvious," said Pagano after the game. "Right when we think we're starting to head in the right direction, that happens."
As a whole, the offense could not overcome the two turnovers on the day. TY Hilton, who was forced to exit early in the game with a hamstring injury but later returned, was held to only 1 reception for 20 yards, and was most noticeable on punt returns, as Quan Bray and Chester Rogers were both out with injuries. It is never encouraging to see Hilton returning punts, but this was clearly due to circumstances. Moncrief was the standout performer for the Colts in his return after missing the last five games with a shoulder injury. Moncrief led all Colts receivers with 41 yards and scored on a 3-yard pass from Luck in the third quarter. Had it not been for a Denzelle Good holding penalty in the fourth, it would have been two touchdowns for the third-year wideout. The offensive line, which has struggled all season long, continued the trend, giving up 6 sacks. The Colts lead the league in sacks against this season with 31, and with Joe Reitz leaving the game due to concussion-like symptoms, expect another new five-man unit next game.
"I struggled," said Luck, who threw for 210 yards on 19 receptions. "I think every offensive player in the room feels like we let each other down in a sense. I know I let the team down."
With the likes of Jack Mewhort, Henry Anderson and Dwayne Allen unable to participate in action on Sunday, the Colts could not afford to lose any more personnel. However, the injuries continued to mount, as Phillip Dorsett, Vontae Davis and the already-mentioned Reitz all left the game and did not return. Injuries have been an issue for the team all season, and with a serious lack of depth in most facets on the of lineup, success will be hard to come by.
Sunday's loss puts the Colts at 3-5 on the season, enough for third place in the AFC South. Their next stop is Green Bay next Sunday when they take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who similarly to the Colts, have struggled this season thus far. If the Colts will want to avenge the loss against the Chiefs, they will need to be able to stop the high-powered offense led by Rodgers, with the help of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to name a few. The task will be much harder if Davis, the Colts' number one cornerback, is unable to play
The playoff picture is quickly closing for the Colts, and if they want to reestablish some ground within the division, it starts next week in Green Bay.
Jeff Tibbins covers the Indianapolis Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jeff_tibbins.
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