The final installment of 5 Things Learned from the regular season will look at five different quotes from the aftermath of the Colts' 26-11 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The loss, coupled with the Pittsburgh Steelers' win, knocked the Colts out of the playoffs.
1. Frank Reich
"Probably so. It's pretty disappointing, the last two games. … I knew last week wasn't the best of weeks for a couple different, I don't ever really feel like that, but last week was a little off and this week was back to normal. We were humming, great practice, great energy from top to bottom in every way. Was not expecting this."
That was Reich's response when he was asked if this was the most disappointing loss he's been a part of with the Colts.
The Colts felt they didn't have the best week of practice leading up to their 23-20 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 17, but that last week's preparation was at a good level. And that's part of why Colts players and coaches were blindsided by Sunday's 15-point loss to the Jaguars – there wasn't any indication in the days leading up to the game that a result like that was coming.
2. Ryan Kelly
"We'll look at everything we can look at to figure it out but ultimately we just got beat today, and we got beat against the Raiders. As hard as that is to say, after some of the big, monster wins that we've had, just for a season to end this way after all that we've gone through, what we started off at and digging ourselves such a big hole, to climb out of that and get back on top, on top of the wild card in the AFC, to mess up the last two games — it hurts, man."
Kelly put the Colts' season into perspective, from the slow start to ripping off wins over the Bills, Patriots and Cardinals to falling short against the Raiders and Jaguars. And he added: "Controlling your own destiny the last two weeks of the season to go in and not handle your business is a sting that'll hurt for a long time."
3. Darius Leonard
"I hope guys, really this offseason just take the time and realize what we had in front of us and let this feeling burn through their heart and go out and have the best offseason possible and train to be the best, and just outwork everybody. That's the mindset that I'm gonna tell the guys whenever I can, just attack the offseason just like you attack the season. So then when the season comes we can hit the ground running and we can rock and roll, don't have a slow start and hopefully next year when we get back out there, we have an opportunity to go out and perform."
Kelly mentioned the sting of Sunday's loss will linger for a while, and Leonard explained how that should motivate this team in the coming months. The Colts drew motivation last offseason from falling just short of beating the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs; they'll have to use the frustration and disappointment from Sunday's loss to the Jaguars as fuel to make sure it doesn't happen again.
4. Carson Wentz
"It's a bad feeling. Completely bad feeling know that we were in control, in control of our destiny the last two weeks and we just couldn't get it done. And it's definitely left a bad taste in my mouth, a lot of guys mouths. Not where I want to be, not what we expected either. We expected to finish stronger than we did and we didn't get it done. It's a bad, bad feeling."
The Colts entered Week 17 in control of not just a playoff spot, but the AFC's No. 5 seed. While the Steelers' overtime win over the Ravens officially eliminated the Colts from the playoffs, had Pittsburgh tied or lost and the rest of the day went as it did – with the Dolphins beating the Patriots and Raiders beating the Chargers – the Colts would've snuck into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
5. T.Y. Hilton
"I haven't thought about it. That's something, take some time, talk to Jack (Doyle) and just go through it. If I want to play one more year, I could play one more year. If not, then I won't. So just talk to him, see what he's feeling, and once he makes his decision I'll know what I want to do kind of based on him, whether it's here, whether it's somewhere else. I'll make my decision some time in the offseason."
The last one here is Hilton talking about if he's made his decision to continue playing or retire after 10 seasons with the Colts. The 32-year-old Hilton is set to become a free agent if he decides to continue playing.
When asked if Sunday's result might change his mind about his future, Hilton said: "I pretty much know what I want to do but I just want to take some time to reflect."