The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Sports

November 11, 2013

George Bremer: Colts must erase dark day

Chuck Pagano opened his Monday morning news conference with an attempt at levity.

"Sun came up," he said. "Unbelievable."

Many Indianapolis Colts fans likely shared their head coach's sarcastic astonishment following a 38-8 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon that brought back memories of the disastrous 2011 season.

Despite the early dark humor, Pagano pulled few punches in assessing his team's performance.

"Everything that we talked about last night, after viewing the tape, didn't see anything really different," he said. "We didn't do much of anything to give ourselves a chance in any of the three phases. Certainly not in the beginning and middle, or the end, to give us a chance to play, compete and win that football game."

Pagano's players shared many of the same thoughts in Sunday's postgame locker room, expressing anger and disgust with their play. The key now will be how quickly the Colts can shake out of this funk.

Indianapolis has played well enough to beat three of the NFL's title contenders — San Francisco, Seattle and Denver. But it's also played poorly enough to lose to three teams on the fringe of playoff contention — Miami, San Diego and St. Louis.

That's part of life these days in professional football, where even Super Bowl champions have obvious flaws.

But there's something about Sunday's 30-point home loss that sticks with you like a bad omelet.

The Tennessee Titans — who will host the Colts on Thursday night — know the feeling. They're coming off a 29-27 home loss against Jacksonville. It was the Jaguars' first win of the season in nine tries so it just feels like a 30-point defeat.

The Titans also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the season after he suffered a foot injury Sunday. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will take over, but that might be small comfort to Indianapolis. Reserve quarterbacks Case Keenum of Houston and Kellen Clemens of the Rams outscored the Colts by a combined 49-3 in the first half the past two weeks.

But here's the rub, at 6-3 Indianapolis still holds a two-game lead over the Titans in the AFC South. Tennessee plays again at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 1, and wins by the Colts in both contests would all but wrap up the team's first division title since 2010.

So there is a silver lining to this dark cloud after all.

Take care of business in Nashville on Thursday, and the loss to the Rams will be little more than a bad memory.

"We're so excited to just get back on the field and to get past this feeling, this taste out of our mouth," defensive end Cory Redding said. "We know we're a much better team than this, and we want to keep rolling. All of our goals are still ahead of us."

Sun came up. Unbelievable.

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