The Indianapolis Colts‘ playoff hopes took a significant hit due to a 22-17 loss to the Houston Texans. In that game, Indianapolis proved why they do not deserve to be a postseason team.
The notion is that playoff teams play their best football in the games that matter the most. While Sunday’s game was not a postseason game, it was certainly the Colts’ most important game of season.
Unfortunately, they could not handle the pressure of the moment, and they absolutely sputtered against an average division rival. They continued to make the same errors and mistakes which have cost them all season.
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Sunday, the Colts’ offense was terrible at every level. Andrew Luck was dreadful for two and a half quarters and was responsible for three turnovers.
He did not receive a lot of help early too. His receivers struggled to consistently get open, and his offensive line struggled to keep the pocket clean.
On the flip side, the defense was not much better. It could not consistently shut down an offense led by Brock Osweiler; who has statistically been one of the NFL’s five worst quarterbacks this year.
Houston held the ball for 36 minutes, and Indianapolis only held the ball for 23 minutes. One reason for the 13 minute difference in time of possession is Indianapolis’ abysmal run defense.
Texans running back Lamar Miller ran for 107 rushing yards and one touchdown. Plus, his backup Alfred Blue added 55 more yards on the ground. The Colts’ vulnerable run defense allowed Houston to bleed the clock and put together three scoring drives of 50 yards or more.
The Colts’ issues on both sides of the ball have been well-documented since the start of the season. However, these same problems continue to reappear.
Playoff teams address issues and make adjustments to protect themselves. They may not fix the issue completely, but they make changes that helps reduce the amount of damage each problem could cause.
Indianapolis’ coaching staff has struggled to make the key adjustments throughout this season. The offensive line has consistently been awful, their pass rush has been non-existent and their skill position players continue to be inconsistent.
Additionally, the Colts’ season-long issues with discipline and toughness were clearly obvious. Committing penalties or struggling in short yardage situations continued to haunt them Sunday.
The Colts committed nine penalties and four of them gave Houston an automatic first down. Eliminating those penalties could have given them an extra possession.
As for short yardage failures, the Colts had a first-and-goal situation on the five yardline. That drive ended with Jadeveon Clowney strip sacking Luck on third down. Also, Indianapolis’ final offensive play was a failed 4th-and-1 conversion play.
All of these issues point to a coaching problem, but to be fair to Chuck Pagano and his staff, it is not completely their fault. There are multiple front office and player issues that have contributed to long list of failures this season.
The Indianapolis Colts did not look like a playoff contender from day one, and they struggled to make the necessary adjustments to become one. That is the bottom line.
As a result, they lost their most important game of the season and will likely be sitting on the coach watching the playoffs in January.