Colts Late Rally Falls Short in Philadelphia, 26-24
All game, they fought, rallied and scrapped.
And on Sunday afternoon, in a windy, hostile, road environment, the Colts did those things in the most difficult of circumstances.
The Colts, with injuries continuing to mount around the lineup, rallied from an early double-digit deficit to take a one-point halftime lead, but quarterback Michael Vick helped the Philadelphia Eagles rally for 26-24 victory in front of 69,144 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday.
Afterward, the Colts talked of disappointment.
And they talked about plays that were there throughout, but didn't quite get made.
But they also talked about heart and effort in a difficult situation.
"The guys don't have certainly anything to hang their heads about," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell told Colts Radio after the Colts' third road loss of the season.
"They fought extremely hard. . . We don't make any excuses for anything. We just didn't play as well as we'd like to play in all situations."
The fight lasted deep into the fourth quarter.
The Colts, who trailed by 10 points with 3:37 gone in the game, led 17-16 at halftime before Philadelphia rallied for the game's next 10 points. Rookie running back Javarris James scored the second of two touchdowns with 1:50 remaining to pull the Colts to within two, and after a first down, the Colts forced an Eagles punt.
The Colts took possession with 40 seconds remaining, but with no timeouts. Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted Colts quarterback Peyton Manning at the Eagles 36 with :10 remaining.
"I would like to have played a lot better," said Manning, who completed 31 of 52 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. "Just no consistency all night. I thought Philly just out-executed us. We certainly had a chance there at the end – disappointed we didn't give (kicker) Adam (Vinatieri) a shot. We had the wind with us, and we love Vinatieri in those chances.
"We were disappointed we didn't give him a shot."
The Colts, as increasingly has been the case in recent weeks, played through injuries Sunday.
They not only placed wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve Saturday, they two weeks before placed tight end Dallas Clark on injured reserve, and the pre-game inactive list included not only starting running back Joseph Addai, but reserve running back Mike Hart, defensive backs Jerraud Powers, Bob Sanders and Justin Tryon, defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, linebacker Clint Session and tight end Brody Eldridge.
"I'm not going to use that as an excuse," Manning said. "Philly has an excellent team. I thought they really executed their defense well. They have excellent players. I think when we look at film, we'll see some things we just didn't do good enough.
"The offense has to do a better job. That starts with me."
Said Caldwell, "Regardless of our injury situation, our plan and our goal is to win. That's what we have to do."
The Colts sustained another injury in the second quarter, this one of an initially frightening nature.
This one was sustained by wide receiver Austin Collie.
Collie, a second-year veteran returning from a thumb injury that kept him out last Monday against Houston, sustained a concussion with 2:23 remaining in the second half. He remained on the field for several minutes and was taken from the field on a stretcher. He was alert and sitting up in the Colts' locker room after the game, according to Colts Radio.
"He's awake, he's alert," Caldwell told reers. "It's a concussion. We wish him the very best in his recovery. I think he'll recover quickly, so I think he'll do OK."
Said Manning, " It's tough when you lose one of your top players. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with him."
The Colts cut the lead to 16-14 on the series on which Collie was hurt, then took the lead on the final play of the first half, but produced 134 yards in the second after a 204-yard first half.
"In the second half, it sure was tough to get anything going," Manning said. "We just had a tough time finding any rhythm there in the second half. I give Philadelphia a lot of credit."
The Eagles, after trailing at halftime, took the lead with a 44-yard field goal by kicker David Akers – his fourth of the game – midway through the third quarter, then pushed the lead to nine points with a 1-yard sneak by Vick 1:13 into the fourth quarter.
Vick completed 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries.
"What we wanted to do was make sure we limited the big plays," Caldwell said. "He had a couple of huge ones for them. He threw the ball well and he ran the ball obviously well. He gives you all kinds of problems."
The Eagles, who entered the game off their 2010 bye week, took a 7-0 lead when wide receiver DeSean Jackson – who missed the Eagles' last game with a concussion – caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Vick. The play capped a three-play, 72-yard drive and gave the Eagles the lead with just 1:44 elapsed.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy set up the touchdown with a 62-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
Samuel then returned an interception 33 yards to the Colts 9 to give Philadelphia a chance to take a two-touchdown lead, but the Colts' defense limited the Eagles to a 22-yard field goal by Akers.
The Colts controlled much of the first half thereafter, but not before Akers' 21-yard field goal capped a nine-play, 96-yard drive, giving the Eagles a 13-0 lead.
Jacob Tamme, starting a second consecutive game in place of injured Dallas Clark at tight end, caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Manning early in the second quarter. That capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive that cut the Eagles' lead to 13-7. Tamme finished with 11 receptions for 108 yards.
A 31-yard field goal by Akers pushed the lead back to nine.
But the Colts immediately drove 80 yards on nine plays, with James – the cousin of Colts all-time leading rusher Edgerrin James – scoring his first career touchdown on a 6-yard run to trim the Eagles' lead to two, 16-14.
Collie's concussion came on that drive – and on a play that was ruled an incomplete pass.
Manning threw 33 yards to Collie's replacement, Blair White, on the ensuing play, and after a face-mask penalty, James scored on a run up the middle.
"It was kind of a bittersweet moment for me," James told Colts Radio after rushing four times for 12 yards.
The Colts held the Eagles on downs on the next series, after which Manning drove the Colts 31 yards in seven plays to set up a 37-yard go-ahead field goal by Vinatieri, but Caldlwell said Philadelphia big plays and the inability to move the ball efficiently in the third quarter hurt the Colts in the second half.
"We played a heck of a ballgame, but we didn't keep them corralled like we wanted to," Caldwell said. "It was really a few key big plays that got away from us. . . . It's one of those situations where you're trying to make something happen. It just didn't work out.
"Our guys did a fine job of fighting. They have a lot of spirit and a lot of pride. In the most difficult circumstances, they'll fight to the bitter end. That's certainly what they did today. . . .
"We just couldn't get it over the hump there at the end."
Manning and Caldwell each said Sunday the fight will continue, and although the circumstances may or may not get better, Manning said the performances can.
"The positive is I think we can improve throughout the week with these guys," Manning said. "The game reps, I think you can't get enough of them. All these new guys, the more games we play, I think we can improve. Hopefully, we can find that improvement and win at the same time. That's the real key."