INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich spent part of the plane ride home Tuesday morning talking with quarterback Carson Wentz and trying to find a way to keep history from repeating itself.
Among the lingering regrets from the Indianapolis Colts’ 31-25 overtime loss against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night was one third-down call late in the fourth quarter. Leading 25-17 with 5:19 remaining in regulation, the Colts faced third-and-8 at Baltimore’s 15-yard line.
Reich chose to run, reasoning in part the resulting field goal attempt would be no longer than an extra point and the Ravens were running out of timeouts. After the field goal was blocked by Baltimore defensive end Calais Campbell, the Indianapolis head coach admitted he had regrets.
The fact is Reich suspects the result might not have been much different had he chosen to put the ball in the air. He and Wentz briefly considered a particular play on the field before the huddle, but the defensive look the Ravens presented on the ensuing snap likely would have nixed that pass.
So the early morning conversation at 30,000 feet was less about what might have been against Baltimore and more about what could be in the future.
“If we get in that situation again — if we’re going to throw it in that situation — what’s a better call than what we were talking about?” Reich said Tuesday. “Those are the things you live and learn from.”
The crushing loss against the Ravens presented many such opportunities. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was injured during pregame warmups and subsequently left seven points on the field through a missed field goal, a missed extra point and the blocked field goal.
The defense also couldn’t hold onto a 22-3 lead with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter, allowing Baltimore to reach the end zone on each of its final four possessions.
Indianapolis wasted a landmark game from Wentz — who set career highs for passing yards (402), yards per attempt (11.5) and quarterback rating (128.5) – and lost despite gaining its most total yards (513) since 2014.
In the end, the Colts just couldn’t find the knockout punch necessary to escape with a victory. Running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 53 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries and caught three passes for 116 yards and another score, said it’s not on any single player to make that big play happen.
“I think that kill shot is really not just one person, one player,” Taylor said. “But the kill shot takes all 11 on the field. It’s almost like one final blow. You need everybody, all 11, to just take that one final blow, and that’s what it’s going to take. It’s not just gonna be someone to make something exceptional happen or Carson make something exceptional happen. It’s gonna take all 11 of us to land that final blow.”
It’s a comment that resonated with Reich, who adds the coaching staff into the mix.
If Indianapolis is to avoid future regrets and finish off winnable games, it needs to be a total team effort.
“That’s a great statement by Jonathan,” Reich said. “It’s execution. That’s when we’re playing good football in both phases. That’s what the knockout punch is. When we have big plays on offense, when we have big plays on defense, when we have big plays on special teams – it’s the whole unit. It’s the whole unit, everybody doing their job, taking care of their own responsibility. That’s the power of the knockout punch.
“The cumulative effect of 11 guys executing and being on the same page is what gives you that knockout punch. That’s what we have to do a better job of. That’s very well said by Jonathan.”
THEY SAID IT
“We’d like to get those opportunities definitely. Not just the trust from Carson to Pitt (Michael Pittman Jr.) on those deep balls, even just us calling them. Knowing that Pitt – when that ball is in the air, it’s his. It’s good to see, and it gives us confidence that we can give him those types of opportunities.” – offensive coordinator Marcus Brady on the 42-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Pittman on a jump ball won by the wide receiver on the first drive of the second half
Safeties Xavier Rhodes and Andrew Sendejo entered the NFL’s concussion protocol after Monday’s loss, and safety Ibraheim Campbell (knee/ankle) was placed on the practice squad injury list after being called up for the game.
The Colts signed offensive tackle Greg Senat and brought back defensive tackle Antwaun Woods to the practice squad Tuesday.
Senat, a sixth-round pick in 2018, has 10 career appearances with the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. Woods played in Week 3 for the Colts, recording two tackles against the Tennessee Titans, before being released from the practice squad last week.