Following collapse, Colts must move on
INDIANAPOLIS — Colts coach Frank Reich got right to the point Tuesday.
“Painful loss, painful loss,” he said less than 24 hours after watching a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead evaporate in what seemed like a blink of an eye Monday night.
Then he quickly moved on — just as he needs his team to do after losing a game that could have turned around the Colts’ season.
They’ll get another chance Sunday when they face the Texans in their first home game since Sept. 19.
Reich found plenty to like on tape.
Quarterback Carson Wentz was efficient. The run defense played well and for three quarters, the Colts were the dominant team.
But the Colts spent the final 12 minutes scrambling, particularly on a defense that finished without three of its top four cornerbacks because of injuries. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the league’s 2019 MVP, took advantage by throwing two touchdown passes and connecting for two 2-point conversions in the final 10 minutes of regulation. He completed the comeback with another TD pass midway through overtime.
And the Colts again squandered red-zone opportunities by settling for two late field-goal chances, which could have sealed the game.
Instead, injured kicker Rodrigo Blankenship’s best chance was blocked, and he missed the potential winner wide left as time expired in regulation.
The result left the Colts frustrated, flabbergasted, and two games behind the Titans in the AFC South.
Now, with a short week, there’s no time to waste in leaving this loss behind.
If the Colts beat the struggling Texans, it could help take some of the sting out of Monday’s historic collapse.
If they lose that game and fall to 1-5, the Colts would have to replicate their 2018 comeback run just to make the postseason.
We’ve got to keep fighting to get better, learn from our mistakes, learn how to finish games,” Reich said. “Players and coaches, we’re all in it together and we’ve all got to do it together.”
Reich may be able to build off Wentz’s recent performance.
The oft-criticized quarterback has strung together his two best games the last two weeks and played well enough to win both. No, he hasn’t been perfect. But he’s mostly avoided turnovers — even with two sprained ankles — and on Monday he led the Colts to four straight scores and consecutive field-goal attempts on their final six possessions.
Another positive sign: the Colts’ two second-round draft picks from 2020, receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and running back Jonathan Taylor, are rounding into form. Pittman has 36 catches and 339 yards since Week 2. Taylor has 41 carries for 220 yards and one touchdown over the last three weeks. He also caught three passes for 116 yards and one score against the Ravens.