"Unacceptable" First Half Dooms Colts On Sunday

Intro: While the second-half effort on Sunday nearly led to a Colts miracle comeback, Chuck Pagano was left shaking his head at what transpired in the first half of Sunday’s 27-21 loss to the Saints.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The team from the "Big Easy" made it anything but that for the Colts on Sunday afternoon.

Behind special teams play, a (rare) dominant Saints ground game and costly Colts mistakes, New Orleans built a cushion that had enough resistance for a 27-21 victory on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Saints led 20-0 less than 17 minutes into Sunday's contest, a first half that had Chuck Pagano shaking his head afterwards.

"The first half was unacceptable," Pagano said after the Colts fell to 3-4 on the season

"It's hard to win football games when you don't shoot yourself in the foot. You're not going to win many games in the National Football League when you turn the ball over and you have penalties and you have miscues and you have the errors that happened in special teams, inability at times to stop the run and couldn't run it."

New Orleans' first half control on Sunday didn't come until late in the opening quarter.

Facing a fourth-and-nine at the Indianapolis 26-yard line, the Saints faked a field goal with backup quarterback/holder Luke McCown connecting with tight end Benjamin Watson for a 25-yard gain, down to the Indianapolis one-yard line.

A play later, Khiry Robinson punched it in from one-yard out to start a three-touchdown span for the Saints in just three minutes and 55 seconds.

Andrew Luck followed up the Saints touchdown with an interception on the next Colts play and Robinson would get back into the end zone to begin the second quarter.

Down 14-0, the Colts watched their deficit snowball.

Griff Whalen fumbled the ensuring kickoff and the Saints stretched their lead to three scores just three plays later.

The first-half struggles for the Colts included another uncharacteristic half of football from Luck.

In the first two quarters on Sunday, Luck was 9-of-19 for 79 yards and two interceptions (rating of 19.3).

The Colts initial first-down on Sunday didn't come until the 13:05 mark of the second quarter (with the Saints already leading 20-0). Luck's first completion of the afternoon occurred after more than 20 minutes of game action, following five incompletions and an interception to start the game.

A final-minute pick from Luck, at the Saints' goal-line, eliminated any hope the Colts had at getting some points on the board before halftime.

"I'd say I'm frustrated up here," Luck said after the Colts dropped to 1-3 at home this seaosn.

"As a unit, we're frustrated and I'm frustrated with myself. Some egregious turnovers, especially the one at the end of the first half. It's really bad football."

In the second half, things wouldn't get any easier for the Colts, at first. The Colts started with a three-and-out and the Saints extended their lead to 27 with a Mark Ingram one-yard touchdown run.

A Colts run defense that had been pretty sound in 2015, struggled on Sunday. The Saints' 31st ranked rushing offense chewed up 183 rushing yards on 36 carries against Indianapolis.

Indianapolis would not go quietly though on Sunday, making a valiant comeback attempt in the second half.

T.Y. Hilton got behind the Saints secondary for late third-quarter touchdowns of 87 and 46 yards, giving the Colts some life heading into the final frame.

While the Indianapolis defense continued to force empty possessions, the offense went scoreless on three straight drives to start the final frame.

A Donte Moncrief eight-yard touchdown cut the Saints lead to 27-21 with 3:05 remaining and gave the Colts one last hope.

However, a bounding onside kick deflected off the hands of Colts safety Colt Anderson and when Drew Brees connected with Marques Colston for a third-and-four completion with 2:09 remaining, the Saints could finally exhale.

The loss for Indianapolis sent the Colts to 3-4 with two undefeated teams remaining (at Carolina, vs. Denver) before the team's bye week in early November.

"We've managed to play a good 30 minutes here and there and then we've shot ourselves in the foot in halves," Pagano said after Sunday's loss.

"We've got to put together a complete football game. We've got to play 60 minutes of Colts football."

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