Colts unable to keep momentum going
Turnovers and penalties contributed mightily to the Colts losing the game, and divisional lead, to Jacksonville.
INDIANAPOLIS -- After finishing their two-game series against the Jaguars with a split, the Colts realize they have a new rival in the tough AFC South. But following Sunday's 27-24 last-minute loss in the RCA Dome, they realized the enemy is themselves -- not the Jags.
"They outplayed us," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "It started from the opening kickoff. We made some mistakes that are hard to overcome. We had 12 penalties and two turnovers. It kind of took the momentum away every time we had a chance to overcome them."
|“||It was pretty much a combination of us hurting ourselves, that would be the summary of the game. Jacksonville is an excellent team and they played well, but I thought we made too many mistakes. They really hurt us.”|
|—Colts QB Peyton Manning|
The Colts' first touchdown drive was a classic example of what Dungy was discussing.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Jaguars took a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Brady. On the ensuing kickoff, the Colts were flagged for a holding penalty and started their possession on their 8-yard line. On first down, center Jeff Saturday was penalized for a false start. To get the offense going, Peyton Manning had to complete four passes for 69 yards and get an 18-yard interference call to tie the score.
On the next possession, the drive started at the Colts' 20. Tight end Dallas Clark missed a block on linebacker Greg Favors, and Manning was sacked at the 11. He completed his next four passes, but the fourth was negated by Tarik Glenn's holding penalty. To navigate the 80 yards, Manning had to generated 99 yards of offense, which he did when he finally hit Clark with a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Colts a 14-10 halftime lead.
"We just can't make mistakes," Manning said. "We can't have penalties. We can't have turnovers against a good team like Jacksonville whose offense is capable of scoring at any point. We just have to execute better. We've done that in our four wins. In our two losses, I think you can say some turnovers and some costly mistakes on our own have really hurt us."
Reporters after the game wondered if the bye week was the problem.
"No, I don't think so," Dungy said. "We had a normal week of practice. We did things the same way as we always do. We just didn't come out as sharp. We almost doubled our penalty totals for the first five games today. We just weren't sharp. But I would not blame it on the bye week."
In addition to the penalties, the Colts had a hard time holding on to balls. Brandon Stokley had a costly fumble in the first half after a catch. Clark was in the open field and lost the ball on a fumble when he tried to maneuver around his blocker, Glenn. It was that kind of day.
"It was pretty much a combination of us hurting ourselves, that would be the summary of the game," Manning said. "Jacksonville is an excellent team and they played well, but I thought we made too many mistakes. They really hurt us."
The killer was the third quarter when the Colts came out completely flat. They had two three-and-outs and a Clark fumble. Conversely, the Jaguars ran 21 plays to Indy's 12; held the ball for 12 minutes; and gained a whopping 175 yards, though they managed to score just a field goal to cut the deficit to 14-13.
Unfortunately for the Colts, things weren't much better at game's end. Their last possession started with Manning and wide receiver Reggie Wayne arguing and Wayne subsequently pushing Manning.
Manning explained it as just frustration and a non-issue. The issue was mistakes. Those mistakes allowed the Jaguars to take the AFC South lead.
John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.