INDIANAPOLIS –In sport where statistics can be manipulated to fit any argument, the only argument one cannot refute is that turnovers are killers.
The chances of overcoming almost anything else the game can present are far greater than to rebound from handing an opponent possession of the ball.
On Sunday at Chicago, the Colts turned the ball over five times, while taking it once from the Bears.
The Colts' one takeaway produced seven points when linebacker Jerrell Freeman returned an interception of Jay Cutler four yards for a score. Many times when a team scores defensively, the outcome is affected positively.
Over the course of the game, however, Indianapolis had five miscues (three interceptions and two fumbles).
Though the Colts stemmed the bleeding by limiting Chicago to six points off the turnovers, the damage was too great to overcome. It was something Head Coach Chuck Pagano pointed out to his team on Monday.
"I told them today any time you're minus four (in turnovers), you won't beat Carmel High School or Zionsville. That's exactly what I told them today," said Pagano. "You won't, I don't care who you're playing. At the end of the day if you're minus four, it's really hard to overcome."
Though the team did not yield a great number of points, it did relinquish critical possessions. Every team has a thin margin for error in a competitive league. For one like the Colts, which entered Sunday's game with eight rookies and six first-year players – many of whom who enjoyed starting duty or had significant playing time – there is very small room for mistakes.
"You just don't want to dig yourself a hole, especially on the road against what we think is going to be a playoff team. It's hard to overcome," said Pagano.
Indianapolis fell behind after not taking advantage of field position early in the contest. Coupled with the turnovers, it something on which quarterback Andrew Luck commented on today.
"I try to view the film as a learning experience, be critical of yourself," said Luck. "I'm not going to wallow in, 'Oh, we lost, it's terrible. Woe is me.' There are a lot of plays out there that you wish you could have done differently. (There were) some interception throws I wish we could take back. I think we had some opportunities to maybe flip the script and get ahead early, but didn't take advantage of those.
"After (Jerrell) Freeman's interception for a touchdown, what a great a opportunity to go out there and put a drive together and put points on the board. We didn't do that. There was some good stuff as well – the two-minute drive. We had some good plays. A lot of guys made a lot of plays. We'll just get better and work hard this week to try and improve."
Pagano has commented previously that no one will get to Luck mentally, that no one would be able to get to him with criticism. Luck, he said, would be his own critic, and that side of Luck was evident on Monday, too.
"To overcome that (multiple turnovers), you have to have a lot of lucky bounces, some fortunate bounces," said Luck. "That's the thing I thought about most last night, this morning and after the film again. Four turnovers, you can't have that, especially when all four of them are on you."
Pagano did see some positives in the performance. One was that his club battled throughout the afternoon. Despite a slow start, it was a three-point game late in the first half, and the effort did not slow in the second half. He liked what he saw from Luck.
"(It was a) gritty, gritty performance by Andrew," said Pagano. "He did a nice job of sliding around the pocket, buying time, keeping his eyes down the field, making some huge plays. We missed some easy ones, and he made some tough ones. … I was encouraged."
Pagano said linebacker Dwight Freeney will have his sprained ankle observed by club doctors this week. No more information was available on Freeney. Should he be unable to play, the club will need to generate pressure on the passer with other players. In Freeney's absence, linebacker Robert Mathis had two sacks, his 20th multiple-sack career outing.
Pagano said offensive tackle Winston Justice did suffer a concussion at Chicago and will go through the proper medical protocol, as will wide receiver Austin Collie for the concussion he suffered in preseason. Collie was inactive for the Chicago game. Guard Joe Reitz missed the opener and may be absent one more week.
COLTS MAKE ROSTER MOVE – The Colts today signed free agent guard Trai Essex and waived tackle Mike Person and center A.Q. Shipley.
Essex, 6-5, 324 pounds, has appeared in 76 career regular season games (28 starts) and six postseason games, including one start, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2005-11). He was a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams before being waived on August 31. Last year, Essex appeared in all 16 games (three starts) and saw action at tackle, guard and center. He helped block for the Steelers offense to average 372.3 yards per game, fourth-most in the AFC.
Essex was selected by the Steelers in the third round (93rd overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Northwestern. He is originally from Fort Wayne, Ind. and attended Paul Harding High School.
Shipley was signed by the Colts on January 28, 2012 and appeared in one game. Person was claimed off waivers by the Colts on September 1, 2012.