INDIANAPOLIS – For the second straight week, Indianapolis suffered a difficult home loss without the offense scoring a touchdown.
On Sunday, the Colts fell to divisional rival Jacksonville, 17-3, before 64,619 in Lucas Oil Stadium. The previous Sunday, Indianapolis dropped a 31-7 decision to Atlanta where the lone score came by the defense.
Yesterday's game remained tight through most of the day. The teams traded first-half field goals before Jacksonville seized a 10-3 lead late in the third period. Indianapolis had opportunities to tighten or tie the game in the fourth quarter before eventually falling.
The Indianapolis offense endured an uneven day through most of the action. Penalties early in drives hindered the offense. The team started the second straight game with a same starting line, but it still has had six combinations this season. Third-down offense remained a chore for the team. Indianapolis converted four-of-15, a rate lower than the seasonal average.
Quarterback Curtis Painter completed 13-of-19 passes for 94 yards, but suffered three sacks and two interceptions. He was substituted out of the line-up in the last six minutes of action, departing with the score being 10-3. Head Coach Jim Caldwell indicated there were factors beyond his play that forced a decision that is not a permanent one.
"This is certainly going to be one of those tough games to evaluate all of the things," said Caldwell. "Curtis (Painter) probably didn't get as settled as we'd like. He had some pressure on him here and there. In terms of completions, I think he was 14-for-20 or something like that, so that's obviously not too bad. He was a bit unsettled. I made a change to see if we can get a spark. We'll evaluate it, take a look at it and see where we go from here."
Sunday's game was his seventh career start and 10th career game. Still a young quarterback and working with an offense that has been hindered with injuries, Painter is still developing, Caldwell said.
"He's been practicing very, very well," said Caldwell. "He's been making progress in terms of practice. The interceptions are the ones obviously that we certainly would like to have back. Overall, I still do think the way he's been practicing and coming along didn't show up every time this time out. He's working at it.
"When you have a loss like this that's so tight, it usually boils down to a couple of plays. They were able to make them, and we could not. We couldn't stop them when we needed to stop them, and we could not put points on the board. That was area we needed…to put points on (the scoreboard). A couple of opportunities we had to do so, we just didn't do it. … There were a lot of things we did well, just not enough to win."
Three times on Sunday, Indianapolis had false starts to turn first-and-10 opportunities into first-and-15 situations. Painter's first interception cost the Colts nothing. The second came in Jacksonville territory with the team driving for a potential tying score. In between, he was rushed in the pocket and on occasions did not have time to set.
"Curtis didn't have an opportunity to get real settled," said Caldwell. "You look at his numbers (and) he was 14-for-20 I believe, but there were a couple of interceptions in there that indeed hurt and we'd like to have those back. It's tough to evaluate him on a day when he's under a bit of pressure and had to move around and can't set his feet, things of nature. It happened to him enough."
Caldwell cautioned the moved to Dan Orlovsky late in the game was to look for nothing more than a spark.
"No different at all in that regard," said Caldwell of the change in a seven-point game. "He'd been under some pressure and there had been some sacks. We made a little change with (Dan) Orlovsky, but it's a tough game to evaluate for Curtis. Some things he did pretty well. If you look strictly, at the numbers, it's not too bad, but obviously we'd like to have a couple of those back. He's been practicing hard. He's been making progress in practice. Every once a while, you're going to have a game maybe you're not going to like. It was really just one stretch for him."
Painter expressed disappointment in the performance, but knows continued work and development is the best remedy.
"Disappointed. We didn't do some things today that we would like to have done better," said Painter. "We made a few mistakes. (I'm) disappointed, but keep working. I think in places we are getting better. I think we ran the ball pretty well. We just have to keep getting better."
He was disappointed in the second interception that halted a scoring possibility.
"It was a poor decision, a poor throw," said Painter. "(I'll have to) look at the tape and see what the other options were on that play. I was forcing it there."
Caldwell and Painter both point to solid work during the week, and Painter could not put a finger on why mid-week work is not helping in-game production as much as he would like.
"It's tough to say. Obviously, turnovers were a big factor today," said Painter. "We can't have those. I don't know what the translation (from practice to games) is, but we have to secure the ball better."
Indianapolis has endured droughts offensively this season where the unit is off the field for a period of time. That came for the Colts Sunday in the third quarter when they controlled the ball for 3:24 of the period. At other times, extending drives with third-down conversions hurt the club. Caldwell knows it is an area where the club must improve.
"That's a real key. It's an area we need to continue to work on," said Caldwell. "We have to get better. Sometimes it's throwing and catching. Other times, it's running the ball. It just depends on the length of the third down. A number of times we didn't help ourselves. We made it fairly tough a couple of times with long-yardage situations with a couple of penalties to start drives. We did not operate on all cylinders like we'd like to."
Indianapolis reaches its open week with a chance to refine, relax and re-tool. Caldwell knows the break in action will afford such an opportunity."
"We still have a lot of work and evaluation and things of that nature," said Caldwell. "We're, first and foremost, going to look at those things and see where we can get ourselves a little bit better."
Painter joins his coach in looking forward to more chances to work, and he thinks the open weekend will help.
"I hope so. I hope so," said Painter. "We'll be able to get a few practices in this week and take some time. Hopefully (we'll) get some guys some rest, maybe heal some bodies. A few extra practices will be good. We'll talk a lot about us, some fundamentals and techniques. With a few extra practices, it will give us a chance to settle down and focus on those things."