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Colts move into driver’s seat for Andrew Luck: Fan reaction
For a half, it looked like Curtis Painter(notes) was going to lead the Indianapolis Colts to their first win of the season. Granted, it was just the Kansas City Chiefs, but hey, a win is a win, and when we're talking about an 0-4 team that has gotten its fans used to winning over the past dozen seasons or so, we'll take a win any way we can get it. Especially in front of a home crowd.
Painter didn't look half bad during the first two quarters, completing 12 of 17 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns to his favorite receiver, Pierre Garcon(notes). His quarterback rating was darn near perfect: 152.2 out of a possible 158.3. He didn't look spectacular by any means, and he certainly wasn't making anyone forget about Peyton Manning(notes), but he was doing alright with a fairly simplistic game plan.
The Colts jumped out to a 17-0 lead and took a 24-14 advantage into the locker room. Colts fans thought that maybe this was the week that we get off the schneid.
Then came the second half, and the Curtis Painter we know all too well came crashing back to earth.
He completed 3 of 10 passes for 40 yards. The Colts ran five whole plays in the third quarter. Their four drives in the second half ended in punt, punt, punt, and turnover on downs. No points. Painter was flailing the ball all over Hades' half-acre while Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel(notes) found Dwayne Bowe(notes) and Steve Breaston(notes) in the end zone, and blammo! A fifth straight loss for the Colts to start the 2011 season.
Loss isn't completely Painter's to bear
This one can't be blamed entirely on Painter, though. Granted, the broad sides of barns throughout central Indiana were perfectly safe from his throws in the second half, but receivers also continued their alarming pattern of dropping passes that actually get to them.
Dallas Clark(notes) looks completely out of sorts this season, dropping three passes in this game to bring his season total to six. Garcon is maddening. Throw one over his head on the sideline, like Painter did in the first half, and he'll make a freakish circus catch that blows your mind. Throw one that hits him in between the 8 and the 5, and there's at least a 50-50 chance that the ball hits the turf. Even Reggie Wayne(notes) has had some go through his hands.
As usual, the Colts' running game is stagnant. Joseph Addai(notes) went down to injury early on in this one, and Delone Carter(notes) and Donald Brown(notes) could only muster up 60 rushing yards between them. As a team, the Colts only had 78 yards on the ground. Sadly, that's just barely under the team's season average of 82 yards per game.
Jackie Battle(notes) had 119 yards all by himself, and the Chiefs' 194 rushing yards more than doubled that of the Colts. Not that the Colts have had a decent run defense in recent years—and this year is no exception—but come on! 194 yards?!
Colts "Suck for Luck"
I hate the term "Suck for Luck." Absolutely hate it. The concept of purposely throwing a season to achieve the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in order to get quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford is preposterous to me. I refuse to believe that any NFL team—certainly including the Colts—would intentionally "Suck for Luck."
These guys are professionals. This is what they do for a living, and they take pride in it. The Colts certainly don't look like they're enjoying this or doing it on purpose. If they were, Manning would be relaxing on a beach somewhere, instead of remaining a visible presence and mentor for Painter, and Jeff Saturday(notes) would be about the most happy-go-lucky guy you'd ever meet.
What the Colts are enduring right now is an incredible number of injuries, as well as injuries to vital players. Manning is the most obvious. This entire offense is designed around Manning's brain and arm. He had played every game until this season. He had taken every snap in practice until this season. It was a huge gamble that paid dividends for over a decade, but when the indestructible quarterback finally goes down, what's left is a guy with a fraction of the talent and who has no experience working with the first-stringers. In an offense that's based on timing, it's no wonder that Painter struggles so badly.
Beyond Manning, though, the Colts have already lost Gary Bracket and Melvin Bullitt(notes) to injured reserve. They join offensive guards Jaimie Thomas(notes) and Ben Ijalana(notes)—this year's second-round draft pick —on the list of guys who are out for the season. Defensive tackle Eric Foster(notes) is lost to the gruesome ankle injury he suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. Anthony Castonzo(notes), Ryan Diem(notes), and Mike Tepper(notes) were all inactive against the Chiefs with injuries. Ernie Sims(notes) missed three games. Now Addai is banged up, Austin Collie(notes) is one blow to the head away from hanging up his cleats for good, and nobody has seen 2007 first-round draft pick Anthony Gonzalez(notes) since he deposited his signing bonus.
The Colts aren't trying to lose. They just can't help it.
Now they sit at a league-worst 0-5, since the 0-4 Miami Dolphins and 0-4 St. Louis Rams had the week off, and the previously 0-4 Minnesota Vikings finally chalked one up in the win column against the Arizona Cardinals. Looking forward, Indy has two dates with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a game against the Carolina Panthers left as what appears to be their only realistic hopes of a win this season.
Despite their best efforts this season, Indianapolis may find themselves in a position to draft a quarterback out of Stanford with the first overall pick again. If that winds up being the case, let's hope that Luck works out better for the Colts in 2012 than some other Stanford quarterback did in 1983.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime Colts fan.
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