INDIANAPOLIS --Turnovers continue to erode the Colts' chances of winning for the first time in the 2011 season.
Sunday, quarterback Curtis Painter led the Colts on impressive drives on their final two possessions. They marched down the field knowing that a touchdown and two-point conversion would tie the game. But interceptions ended both opportunities, and the Carolina Panthers went home with a 27-19 victory.
"One of the things you like to do is give yourself a chance to win, that you're there at the end and it's just a matter of a play made here or there," Colts Coach Jim Caldwell said. "I think we did that. But obviously our goal is to win."
The Colts dropped to 0-11. Carolina lifted its record to 3-8.
The Colts accomplished a number of good things against the Panthers. Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Pat Angerer each had a sack on Carolina's mobile quarterback, Cam Newton. The Colts' Jamaal Anderson blocked a field goal try. Jacob Lacey forced and recovered a fumble that led to an Indy field goal.
Reggie Wayne recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of the year with 122 on five receptions. Donald Brown bulled his way to a season-high 80 rushing yards. The Colts scored a pair of offensive touchdowns, their first ones in three games.
However, Newton's versatility was hard to stop. He completed 20-of-27 passes for 208 yards. He ran for another 53 yards. His performance played a huge part in the Panthers hitting the Colts with 15 gains of double-digit yardage.
"You've started to see him develop a little more as a passer," Carolina Coach Ron Rivera said about Newton. "He's starting to read coverages. You see him checking. You see him taking sacks when he has to and using his legs. As he continues to grow and develop as a quarterback, we'll see those decisions continue to be made."
The Panthers went up 27-19 when Olindo Mare connected on a 41-yard field goal with 5:53 remaining. That's when Painter went to work, completing passes of 11, 12 and nine yards to lead the Colts to the Carolina 33-yard line with help from an unnecessary roughness penalty. On the fourth play of the drive, however, a pass intended for Pierre Garcon was intercepted by Chris Gamble.
The Colts didn't give in. Their defense held on Carolina's next drive, and Indy's offense took over at its own 28. Painter hit seven passes for 69 yards, and the Colts drove to the Carolina 3. But on second down, the Colts quarterback aimed a pass for Austin Collie in the end zone. Sherrod Martin made an acrobatic interception with 35 seconds remaining.
"The first one," Painter said when asked about the interceptions, "you'd always love to have that one back. The second one, the guy makes a great play and gets his feet in bounds. That one didn't bounce our way.
"They made some plays, did a good job," Painter said. "But we can't, I guess, fault ourselves. We gave ourselves a chance right there at the end to potentially tie it up."
The 80-yard rushing performance by Brown helped the Colts keep drives going, which prompted comments from Caldwell after the game.
"I thought he performed well," the Colts coach said. "He's been coming along. As long we've been able to get him the ball a fair number of times, he's made some things happen here over the last few weeks or so.
"He's running the ball with his shoulders square. He's finding seams. And he has speed. Give him a crack, Donald can make some things happen. He's also catching the ball out of the backfield. He's a threat that way as well."
FIRST QUARTER (4:07 remaining)
Carolina moved 33 yards in 10 plays, getting on the scoreboard first as Olindo Mare booted a 40-yard field goal. The big play was a 17-yard pass from Cam Newton to Brandon LaFell. Panthers 3, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (14:03 remaining)
The Panthers extended their lead as Newton loosened up. He passed 30 yards to Steve Smith to open the drive. He ended it by running in himself from the 14-yard line. Mare added the extra point. Panthers 10, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (12:08 remaining)
The Colts completed their first scoring drive of the game with a little help from the Panthers. A pass interference penalty worth 42 yards set up Indy. Then Donald Brown bolted off the right side and powered into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. It ended a two-game stretch of zero offensive touchdowns for the Colts. Adam Vinatieri added the extra point. Panthers 10, Colts 7
SECOND QUARTER (1:46 remaining)
The Colts evened the score when Vinatieri kicked a 43-yard field goal. The eight-play, 34-yard scoring march got a kick-start from Joseph Addai, who ran for 16 yards on a draw play. Brown added eight- and seven-yard runs to help set up the kick.* Colts 10, Panthers 10*
THIRD QUARTER (9:13 remaining)
On their first possession after halftime, the Panthers marched seven plays and 64 yards for a touchdown. DeAngelo Williams ran it in from the 25-yard line. Newton provided big plays, passing 13 yards for one third-down conversion and running 12 yards for another. Mare hit the extra point. Panthers 17, Colts 10
THIRD QUARTER (32 seconds remaining)
A takeaway by Jacob Lacey gave the Colts possession at their own 39-yard line. Then a 40-yard pass play, Curtis Painter to Reggie Wayne, set up the Colts at the Carolina 13. However, the drive stalled and Vinatieri kicked a 31-yard field goal. Panthers 17, Colts 13
FOURTH QUARTER (10:23 remaining)
The Panthers produced five double-digit gains and marched 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Jonathan Stewart rushed 10 and 13 yards. Newton passed to Steve Smith for 20 and 18 yards. Jeremy Shockey caught a 24-yard pass. Williams scored from 2-yard line. Mare kicked the extra point.Panthers 24, Colts 13
FOURTH QUARTER (8:16 remaining)
Wayne came up with another big play, grabbing a 56-yard touchdown pass from Painter. Wayne broke a tackle around midfield and benefited from a crushing block near the end zone by Austin Collie. The Colts went for a two-point conversion, but Painter's pass to Collie fell incomplete. Panthers 24, Colts 19
FOURTH QUARTER (5:53 remaining)
A 76-yard kickoff return by Kealoha Pilares put the Panthers at Indy's 32. Carolina failed to move the ball, but Mare kicked a 41-yard field goal.Panthers 27, Colts 19