INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The frustration was evident.
With Andrew Luck.
With Frank Gore.
With Chuck Pagano.
Coming off what should have been an uplifting road win against the Tennessee Titans and backed by another sellout crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts regressed.
They were little more than along for the ride as the Kansas City Chiefs blue-collared their way to a 30-14 Sunday afternoon, and still are searching for consecutive wins in a wildly inconsistent season.
“Right now it feels like we moved backwards this week,’’ Luck said. “It certainly felt like we were making progress, but we stepped back.
“We’re sick of it. It’s on us. There’s no one else to blame. It’s on us.’’
Luck passed for 210 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked six times – matching a career high that first occurred last month in London – and suffered a pair of turnovers.
T.Y. Hilton dropped three of the six passes that went to him and snatched his only reception with 1 minute, 28 seconds to play.
Offered Pagano: “We took a step back today. That’s obvious. Right when we think we’re starting to head in the right direction, that happens.’’
A win would have evened the Colts record at 4-4 and kept them on Houston’s heels in the AFC South. Now, the only thing keeping their 3-5 mark out of the basement of the NFL’s worst division is 2-5 Jacksonville.
And this from Gore: “We played well last week, and now we take two steps back. Where you want to go in this league, that can’t happen.
“You can’t be like that, not in this league. It’s frustrating because I know how hard we prepared. I know the type of guys we’ve got in here.’’
There was plenty of blame to be shared.
The Luck-led offense never found a rhythm. It converted just 4-of-13 times on third down. Luck lost a fumble out of the shotgun – “My job is to catch that ball and I didn’t,’’ he said – and suffered his fifth interception of the season with 38 seconds remaining in the first half. The Chiefs capitalized on the interception, needing just 3 plays and 19 seconds to cover 36 yards on Alex Smith’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
Instead of only trailing 10-7 at the half, it was 17-7, and the road back seemed so much longer.
Memories undoubtedly flashed to the last time the Chiefs visited Lucas Oil Stadium. It was for a 2013 wild-card matchup, and Kansas City led 31-10 at the half. Luck and the Colts overcame a 28-point third-quarter deficit for a 45-44 victory, overcoming the second-largest deficit in playoff history.
There would be no repeat.
There was no Luck magic to rely on.
He was part of the problem early, and late.
The problems against the Chiefs?
“Yeah, me. I struggled,’’ Luck said. “I think every offensive player in the room feels like we let each other down in a sense. I know I feel like I let the team down.
“Turnovers were bad, simple things that you can’t do in the NFL and expect to win games.’’
The defense kept the game winnable, until it wilted. Remember, the Chiefs were headed to a 10-7 halftime lead before Luck’s interception gifted them a late TD.
But by game’s end, the NFL’s No. 28-ranked defense looked the part. Kansas City was without running back Jamaal Charles and lost quarterback Alex Smith to a concussion – twice, in fact – yet still piled up 422 yards and converted 7-of-16 third-down situations. Backup Nick Foles, who hadn’t attempted a pass this season, finished with 223 yards and two TDs.
In a season of bad, things might have gotten worse.
“It was a great week of practice,’’ Luck said. “Guys were on their stuff. Great energy, great tempo.
“It obviously didn’t translate to the game.’’
Gore’s frustration was obvious, and he nearly was at a loss for words.
“When we take that step (forward),’’ he said, “we’ve got to take that next step. We’ve just got to look at ourselves as far as every man and just be real with ourselves.
“We’ve got to play better.’’