BUFFALO, NY --- It was not the start Frank Gore envisioned in a Colts uniform, rushing for 31 yards on 8 carries (3.9 yards per carry) at Buffalo week 1, and that's something the offense wants to fix moving forward.
"I feel like you have to run the ball. You have to do both. If the run is there, it's there. If the pass is there, it's there. We gotta do both to win in this league," said Gore after the game Sunday. "We did have things going, but big penalties. We can't do that."
The Colts reached midfield on their opening drive, before a holding penalty and false start backed the offense up to its own 35 to make it 1st and 25. The drive would only go two more yards after that.
"We have to get the run game going," said right guard Todd Herremans after the loss. "There's no other way around it. If we don't get that going, then our pass game is going to suffer, because of it."
That was the case in the 1st half, when the Colts offense was shutout by Buffalo. Indianapolis called just 7 rushes compared to 26 passes, including a streak of 18 consecutive pass plays, after the Colts ran it 3 of the first 6 plays with Gore for 13 yards.
"Still got to be able to run it more," said Head Coach Chuck Pagano after the game. "You're not going to survive by the pass only. I think everybody understands that."
Part of the reason for the lack of run plays could have been what Andrew Luck was seeing across the line of scrimmage. Built into the Colts offense is the ability to read the defense pre-snap and choose from a few options.
"They're going to present you with certain things," said Pagano, "and we give the offense the ability to, based on the look, to give us the best play."
After watching tape of the first half, the Bills had at least seven defenders in the box on 16 of the 33 1st half plays. All but 1 of the Colts' 7 first half rushing attempts came with those heavier defensive boxes. That meant Luck had at least one receiver 1-on-1 somewhere for most of the half. He hit a few of those targets, but the Bills secondary held up extremely well on the back end, often in single coverage.
Andrew Luck said Monday the way the game was going dictated the streak of 18 straight pass plays in the first half.
"Yeah, it does a bit," said Luck, when asked Monday if all the Buffalo blitzes impacted the ability to run the ball. "It's not fun trying to run the ball with nine guys in the box, eight guys in the box. That's hard. That's hard for any team. I think we'll improve."
Even against heavy boxes though, Pagano answered whether you just have to try and run it anyway sometimes, with a running back like Frank Gore who has faced 8 men in the box more than any running back over the past three seasons.
"Absolutely, because it's B.Y.O.B. when they put the eighth guy in there. If you can't get them blocked, then that's be your own blocker," said Pagano Monday. "Run through them, run them over, run around them and make them miss. He's done that for a long, long time. So we've got to give him and the other runners that opportunity."
At the end of the game, the Colts finished with 49 passes versus 17 rushing attempts (4 of those were Luck scrambles). With Gore missing some second half snaps with calf cramps, rookies Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga only added 13 yards on 5 carries (2.6 ypc).
The Colts rushing attack will get that chance to improve against another stiff defense in the home opener on Monday night. The Jets held the Browns to just 46 yards on 12 carries in their season opener, after finishing 2014 as a top-5 defense against the run.