INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Here they are. Again.
Two weeks into the season and the Indianapolis Colts are teetering on the brink. They’re 0-2 for a third consecutive season. Never mind the fact everyone in the organization – from the owner to the head coach to the players – stressed the importance of getting off to a strong start this season.
“0-2 isn’t where we want to be,’’ guard Jack Mewhort said Monday, less than 24 hours after the 34-20 loss at Denver. “It isn’t where we thought we’d be, but the only thing to do is go back to work.’’
So they did, with the sense of urgency growing by the day.
It’s doubtful there’s any panic in the team’s West 56th Street complex, but it might be knocking on the door in the form of San Diego. A loss to the Chargers Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Colts will really have to buck history. Only five teams in NFL history – 2.8 percent – have opened 0-3 and recovered to reach the postseason: the 1998 Buffalo Bills, ’95 Detroit Lions, ’92 San Diego Chargers, ’82 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ’81 New York Jets.
For their part, the Colts recently have been able to stop the bleeding. In ’14, they won five straight, finished 11-5 and reached the AFC title game after losing their first two. Last year, they regained their balance by winning three in a row after opening 0-2.
“We understand it’s a long season,’’ quarterback Andrew Luck said. “At the same time, there’s a sense of urgency in this building and there has been a sense of urgency since week 1.
“You want to go out and get a win, and that’s all that matters, really, in the NFL.’’
All that matters is Sunday. And the Chargers, who have won six of the last seven in the series.
“Nothing else matters but the next game and getting a win, to get that first win,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said.
As for the outside noise, which grows louder with each loss?
“To be honest with you, I really don’t have time to pay attention to it,’’ Pagano said. “Zero. You can’t.
“We’ve been here before. Wasn’t the plan that we had drawn up, but it’s where we’re at.
“Our guys understand what it takes to get yourself back on track.’’
Medical update: The team is awaiting results of a magnetic resonance imaging test on the shoulder of wide receiver Donte Moncrief and back of guard Denzelle Good. The initial returns apparently were favorable on cornerback Antonio Cromartie (shoulder) and safety Clayton Geathers (foot). Pagano said each was “sore,’’ but should be OK.
Cornerback Darius Butler sustained a Grade 1 strain to his right hamstring after intercepting a Trevor Siemian pass Sunday; he’s week-to-week. Ironically, Butler suffered a sprained left ankle on his previous interception, against Philadelphia in the preseason.
The knee-jerk conclusion: Butler should knock down the next pass, not intercept it.
Pagano is optimistic several players who’ve missed time will see at least limited practice time Wednesday: cornerbacks Vontae Davis (ankle) and Patrick Robinson (concussion), rookie safety T.J. Green (knee) and linebacker Trent Cole (back). Robinson remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol, but has passed one of the necessary tests. His next step is practicing Wednesday, without contact.
There’s a chance defensive end Henry Anderson, who’s on the mend following knee surgery last November, might see his first action of the season against the Chargers.
Pagano said the team is going to “amp up his reps and see how his week goes.’’
Miller wrecked the game: Denver outside linebacker Von Miller essentially sealed the victory with his strip/sack/fumble of Luck with 1:51 to play. Shane Ray scooped up the football and returned in 15 yards for a touchdown. A 26-20 deficit mushroomed to 34-20.
“No timeouts and 1:51, guys pin their ears back,’’ Pagano said. “That’s when you’ve got to play great and you have to be at your very best.’’
A day later, the issue was how right tackle Joe Reitz found himself blocking Miller one-on-one. Miller easily whipped Reitz with his outside speed.
Pagano explained the Colts’ game plan against Miller and the rest of Denver’s disruptive defense was “don’t let (Miller) wreck the game. We gave help . . . chip and turn the protection.
“He made a phenomenal play. That’s why he is what he is.’’
Tight end Dwayne Allen was split several yards outside of Reitz and Miller actually lined up outside of Allen. But rather than chipping Miller, Allen ran his route. Right guard Jon Harrison helped center Ryan Kelly with a double team on the interior.
Was Reitz supposed to have help on the play?
“Guy made a play,’’ Pagano said.