INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will conclude a three-game road swing this Sunday when they travel to LP Field to meet the Tennessee Titans.
For Indianapolis, it will be the second divisional game this year and the first since opening the season at Houston. The Colts later have a two-game road stretch in December.
Indianapolis hopes to rebound from a tough Sunday Night outing when it dropped a 62-7 decision to New Orleans.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell knows the best approach to move past any outcome, victorious or not, is to return to work and focus ahead. Caldwell was not displeased with the intensity his team showed against the Saints, but he was not happy with the results and level of execution.
"I think the effort was good, just our performance was certainly not good," said Caldwell. "We are all disappointed and frustrated. We just did not play (as) well as we're capable (of playing)."
The Colts endured a long evening in New Orleans on Sunday. The Saints had 557 net yards, including 236 on the ground. The Saints produced 36 first downs and had five touchdown passes. The deficit was 31-0 before rookie running back Delone Carter scored on a two-yard rush just prior to halftime. The Saints added two touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to complete the victory.
When asked about his message to the team following the loss, Caldwell indicated he was straight-forward and that improvement needed to come from every area.
"You tell them (the players) the truth. We just got licked in every phase," said Caldwell. "I told them last night we got whipped in every phase. I told them I wasn't pleased in my preparation for them. I did not get them ready, obviously. I have to do a better job. It's all across the board. We have to take a real good look at what we're doing and kind of get ourselves back to where we're playing with a little bit more consistency.
"It's one of those things that once you don't do the little things right, there is a lot of bad things that happen to you…We just didn't play well."
The wide margin on the scoreboard came after a series of games where Indianapolis battled opponents and had very definite chances to win. In week two, the Colts and Cleveland had a two-point separation entering the fourth quarter before the Browns won by eight points. The Colts led Pittsburgh the following week entering the fourth quarter and tied the game again with two minutes remaining, only to fall on a field goal with four seconds remaining. Curtis Painter succeeded Kerry Collins as the starting quarterback at Tampa Bay in the fourth game, and Indianapolis built 10- and seven-point leads until the Buccaneers tied the contest late in the third quarter and scored the winning points with 3:15 remaining. In week five, Indianapolis built two 17-point leads at home, then saw the Chiefs rally for the game's final 21 points in a 28-24 setback. The Colts trailed Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium two weeks ago by three points in the closing minutes before a turnover resulted in a touchdown. A final interception in desperation mode sealed a 27-17 verdict.
Indianapolis could not slow down the New Orleans offense on Sunday. The Saints zoomed to a 28-0 advantage in the game's first 20 minutes. Indianapolis trailed at the half, 34-7, and the Saints added to the margin in the game's final 30 minutes.
The result of the last game was unlike the competitive nature of the previous five outings. Caldwell cited early problems by Indianapolis, which had not been the case in the games since week two.
"It's one of those things where we've been playing very, very tough against everybody we've played," said Caldwell. "(We) didn't make a whole lot of mistakes early (against previous opponents). In the latter part of the games we were having some difficulty. Right at the onset (at New Orleans), we turned it over a couple of times and certainly couldn't get them stopped. Things kind of snowballed on us."
Asked earlier this season about his team's performances, Caldwell pointed out that efforts expended by his players never have been an issue. The third-year coach maintains that is the case again when queried about the team's play in New Orleans.
"I think you can see they hustled and ran around. We just weren't very sharp, as we like to be," said Caldwell. "That's basically it. With that team (New Orleans), all you have to be is a little bit off against a team like that, and you're going to have some problems."
It has been a season of tough outings for the Colts. Tendencies could have teams trying to do more to overcome difficult outcomes, but that never has been the case with the Colts. The approach always has been quite the opposite, and it has been effective. Caldwell says coaches and players will review the problems that exist, analyze the approach, then hone in on small things that have resulted in bigger problems.
"(You start) from scatch, right at the bottom, right at the basics," said Caldwell. "You kind of look at everything, and that's what this kind of game will make you do. (It) really makes you kind of analyze everything that you do. We certainly believe in what we're doing, there's no question about that. It will make you kind of pare things down, reduce them a little bit more. (You) try to do less and try to become better at what you do. That's where I think it leaves you.
"The thing I'm concerned about more so than anything else is getting our team ready, getting them focused. I focus in on things that we can control, and that's our preparation on a daily basis and trying to get ready for Tennessee."