INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Eleven games into a season of big leads and bigger flops, Chuck Pagano had to admit the obvious.
“We’re getting in those tight situations,’’ he said Monday afternoon, “and we’re finding some really unique ways to screw it up over and over and over again.’’
The Indianapolis Colts have had the halftime lead in eight of their 11 games – only New England, with nine, has more – but are 2-6. Those six losses are two short of the NFL record, according to ESPN.
More to the point, after seeing a 16-6 third-quarter lead transformed into a 20-16 loss to Tennessee Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts now have lost four times after building a double-digit second-half cushion.
Pagano was asked if the specter of his team blowing double-digit leads has become a mental hurdle that must be cleared. Regardless the size of the second-half lead, people are expecting something bad to happen.
“It’s everybody,’’ he said. “It’s you guys. It’s the fans. It’s everybody driving up there (to the game). It’s in the NFL community.
“There’s a storm in the Atlantic, a hurricane, whatever you want to call it. When’s it going to hit landfall? It’s coming. Third quarter? Middle of the third? It’s getting late third, they’re up 10. Gotta happen sometime.
“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy right now.’’
Against the Titans, the game-turning play was rookie Marlon Mack mishandling a third-quarter pitch from Jacoby Brissett inside the Indy 10-yard line with the Colts leading 16-6.
The previous game against Pittsburgh, it was a Brissett pass in the fourth quarter going through the hands of tight end Jack Doyle and being intercepted by linebacker Ryan Shazier at the Indy 10. The Colts led 17-10 at the time.
At Cincinnati, the Colts saw a 23-17 fourth-quarter lead evaporate when Brissett suffered a pick-6 at the hands of Carlos Dunlap.
Since 2012, the Colts are a league-best 35-17 (.660) in one-possession games. But they’re 3-5 this year.
At 3-8, the Colts are assured a third straight non-winning season for the first time since 1989-91.
“Uncharted waters,’’ Pagano said. “I’m sick for these players and the coaches and our fans. Sick. And you don’t sleep and it just rips your guts out to see these guys have to go through this.’’
Pagano revealed cornerback Rashaan Melvin sustained a “significant’’ injury to his right hand in Sunday’s loss to the Titans that probably will keep him out of Sunday’s trip to Jacksonville.
Also, center Ryan Kelly is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after being diagnosed with a concussion at halftime of Sunday’s game.