That’s how head coach Chuck Pagano described the first half of the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-21 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. With three turnovers, holdings on third down, and an early 20-point deficit before the second quarter’s end, it was easy to see why.
Combine that with poor quarterback play—Andrew Luck didn’t complete a pass until 21 minutes into the game—and it was clear that the Colts were on a mission to prove just one thing:
How to lose a football game.
“It’s hard enough to win games when you’re not shooting yourself in the foot,” Pagano said. “You’re not going to win many football games in the National Football League when you turn the ball over and have penalties and have miscues and the errors that we had on special teams.”
The Saints had as many first downs as the Colts had plays after the first quarter, out-gaining them 132-16 in yardage. After Indianapolis had bit on a fake field goal to give the Saints their first touchdown of the game, Luck threw a pick deep in Colts territory, giving New Orleans a chance to capitalize and take a 14-0 lead.
Another boneheaded interception—the way Luck describes such mistakes—came in the redzone seconds before the end of the half, erasing any chance the Colts had at scoring points before heading into the locker room.
After finishing the first half with a rating of 19.3, frustration from the fourth-year starter was evident.
“Obviously I’m frustrated,” Luck said after the loss. “I think as a unit we’re frustrated and I’m frustrated at myself with some egregious turnovers, especially the one at the end of the half. It’s just really bad football.”
Luck would finish 28-of-44 and throw for three touchdowns—two to T.Y. Hilton for 87 and 46 yards, respectively, and one to Donte Moncrief—to inch the Colts within a score for the victory.
Suddenly, there was life.
The defense was stout. Brees began to feel the pressure. The Colts were forcing punts.
But they couldn’t finish. After setting up the Saints with a third down from their own 3-yard-line, the Colts’ defense couldn’t stop Saints quarterback Drew Brees from finding wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a 47-yard gain. Three plays later, facing another potential third-down stop, came the dagger: a 20-yard completion to wide receiver Marques Colston.
Despite the slow start and inability to finish, Pagano was proud of the way his team rallied from behind.
“I’m damn proud of the guys and the way that they responded coming out of halftime,” Pagano said. “We came up short, but they fought their asses off.”
Rally or not, the Colts are now 3-4 on the season—their only three wins coming against division opponents—and face a long road ahead.
With a schedule that includes a trip to Carolina (6-0) next Monday night, Atlanta (6-1) in two weeks and a matchup against the Broncos (6-0) at home, Pagano knows there’s no time for his team to make excuses.
“It would be really easy to make excuses and say this was because of this and that and hangovers, but that’s all bullcrap,” Pagano said. “It’s on us. We’re going to come in tomorrow and look at the tape like we always do and we’re going to get it fixed.”