INDIANAPOLIS – The pain of a 19-9 loss at San Diego had not dulled when the Colts' flight hit ground in Indianapolis around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Less than 12 hours later after assessing matters, Chuck Pagano was ready for more.
"Our guys after games like that, the quicker you can get back on the field and play a game, I know it can't come quick enough for all of us," said Pagano. "We have to go through the process and prepare for this next opponent. Sunday can't come quick enough."
For the Colts, Monday night was the season's most difficult performance. Uneven play on both sides of the ball tilted the game through the middle two quarters, causing a three-point lead to sway to a 10-point deficit.
Reasons were obvious and painful – though not systemic. The outcome was a clunker that can be rectified.
"It certainly was uncharacteristic of us, some of the things that transpired," said Pagano. "I think you point your finger to a lot of things. (We) didn't execute well. Third down was an issue on both sides of the ball, which led to the time of possession issue. Three third downs on defense where you have penalties that extend drives by four, five, nine plays (and) lead to 10 points, that's shooting yourself in the foot.
"You talk about the dropped passes (an estimated six occurred), which are totally uncharacteristic of our guys. We had opportunities. We had chances. You have one over the top, a couple of shots down the field that should be big plays, but we didn't capitalize for whatever reason. We'll deal with it."
The Colts forced two early San Diego punts before the Chargers embarked on a four-possession crusade that largely decided the game.
Twenty first downs and nearly 300 net yards were amassed over 55 plays that milked more than 29 minutes off the clock.
While two specific third-down defensive penalties assisted two San Diego scores, the Colts were blanked on third-down conversions in the first half, an area of play the team had dominated in its four victories.
In the opening half, the Colts were one-of-five passing on third downs as San Diego wrested control of the game. Indianapolis never could right itself.
Entering the game hitting on a 50 percent conversion rate on third downs, the Colts managed to convert twice in the final half, pushing the game total to two-for-10.
Twice in the second half, Pagano decided to punt rather than go on fourth-and-short situations. The first happened at the San Diego 40 on fourth-and three with four minutes left in the third quarter. The change in possession led to a San Diego field goal.
The second happened late in the contest from the Colts' 17, a fourth-and-two that Pagano still feels was the right decision.
"With three timeouts and I think there was 3:20 left, there are some other guys who have done that in the past," said Pagano of going for a first down. "I felt even though we had given up some snaps and some yards, we were still holding. It was a one-score game. I still feel really good (about the decision).
"I felt they were going to run the ball and try to get us to burn our timeouts and we'd be able to stop them and get the ball back. We still had the two-minute warning. That's what I was thinking."
San Diego moved for its final score, a 50-yard Nick Novak field goal that had it failed would have provided Indianapolis great field position with 1:55 to play.
Again, it was a game that did not up for the Colts, while four-of-five others this year have.
"I think guys after a game like that where you have a bunch of opportunities and you don't capitalize and shoot yourself in the foot… We all know you lose games in the NFL, you don't win them," said Pagano. "We credit our opponent. They played well and had a nice plan and executed and we didn't."
FREEMAN UPDATE – Jerrell Freeman missed more than half of the game after suffering a concussion. Pagano said Freeman will undergo tests Wednesday and initiate the protocol that hopefully will return him to the field Sunday. He characterized Freeman as "day-by-day," adding no other players suffered significant injuries.