|Injuries, mistakes making Colts look like some other team|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 12 November 2007 10:49|
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Tony Dungy spent Monday morning sorting out a mess.|
He broke down the Indianapolis Colts' latest game tape, called the league's officiating director and tried to figure out who might play next week against Kansas City.
Good luck, coach.
After seeing a two-time league MVP throw a franchise-record six interceptions, the league's best clutch kicker miss a go-ahead 29-yard field goal with 1:31 left and the Colts' coverage teams allow two kick returns for touchdowns in Sunday's 23-21 loss at San Diego, Dungy struggled to explain it.
``It was much more disappointing than Jacksonville,'' Dungy said, referring to last season's 44-17 debacle. ``Jacksonville was one of those games where things happen. These last two weeks, you lose in the fourth quarter and we're not doing the things you need to do to win.''
No, the Colts (7-2) didn't look like themselves Sunday night.
Peyton Manning threw four interceptions in the game's first 16 minutes, Joseph Addai averaged 2.5 yards per carry and Adam Vinatieri missed two makable field goals, including a potential game-winner on a soggy, recently resodded field.
Then again, the Colts weren't themselves.
Seven injured players didn't suit up, and Indy dressed only 44 players - one fewer than NFL rules permit. Four more players went down during the game, and there's no indication when they'll play again.
Among those who sat out Sunday were perennial Pro Bowl receiver Marvin Harrison (bruised left knee), tight end Dallas Clark (concussion), rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez (dislocated left thumb) and left tackle Tony Ugoh (neck).
If that wasn't enough to challenge Manning, he spent the entire second half working with a makeshift line. Ugoh's backup, Charlie Johnson, left in the first quarter with a left foot injury and did not return. Right tackle Ryan Diem hurt his right knee just before halftime and right guard Jake Scott wound up playing right tackle.
``I thought they did a remarkable job, given the circumstances,'' Dungy said of his line. ``Jake played tackle, which he hadn't done in about three years, and he and Michael (Toudouze) did a good job blocking two Pro Bowl guys.''
The larger problem may now be on defense.
Already playing without linebackers Tyjuan Hagler (neck) and Freddy Keiaho (ear) and defensive tackle Raheem Brock (neck), the Colts may have sustained the biggest blow of all in the fourth quarter. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney was carted from the sideline to the locker room with an ice pack on his left foot. Freeney was hurt when he slipped while rushing San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.
Dungy had no update on Freeney because players were off Monday, other than to say he thought it would not be season-ending.
Finding replacements won't be easy, either.
``The problem with bringing people in is letting guys go,'' Dungy said. ``We've already let two guys go that we didn't want to, and none of these injuries are that debilitating. How long can we go in this stretch? I don't know.''
Complicating matters for Dungy were questions he had about the officiating.
An inadvertent whistle wiped out Clint Session's 94-yard interception return in the first half, a call team president Bill Polian told local NBC affiliate WTHR he hadn't seen since high school.
In the final two minutes, Dungy was even more upset when a booth challenge respotted the ball short of a first down, forcing a fourth down. As the Colts lined up to try and draw San Diego offside, tight end Ben Utecht was called for simulating the snap as he shifted.
Dungy was so upset he sought explanations from the league office Monday morning even as he explained the loss was not a result of the officiating.
``The only problem I had with it (the review) was that when we had the ball it was outside the 16 and then the marker is inside the 6. I don't know how that happens, and I called Mike Pereira trying to find out how the chains got set,'' Dungy said. ``I talked to Pereira about that (false start) today, too, and he said they'd be much more technical about that in a fourth-down situation. He felt that was a penalty, so that's something we learned.''
With so many key players hurt, a two-game losing streak and a one-game lead in the AFC South, the Colts appeared both heartbroken and angry after losing a game Dungy said they didn't deserve to win.
``I take full responsibility for all of them (interceptions),'' Manning said Sunday night. ``Certainly (Shaun) Phillips made a good play on the one that was kind of tipped up. The rest of them were poor throws or poor decisions, either one of them.''
In Dungy's mind, the solution rests solely with his players - or at least those healthy enough to play this week against Kansas City.
``I hate to say it, but we can't get concerned with who's not going to play,'' he said. ``Hopefully, we'll get some of those guys back this week. The biggest thing for me is we didn't function smoothly in the fourth quarter. Obviously, we're not happy with the kick returns and the interceptions and all those things, but two weeks in a row we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter and we didn't get it done.''
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