Andrew Luck’s Monday Night Football debut ended in disappointment as he threw for zero touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts 19-9 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
“I think we made our fair share of mistakes,” Luck said after the game. The Colts had key drops that cost them, as well as key penalties on defense that led to Chargers points. A big drop by wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey would have easily been a touchdown when he beat his man downfield. It would have been a 60 yard touchdown. Instead he dropped it and the Colts called a timeout.
The second major drop came late in the first half when Coby Fleener dropped what would have been a first down and possibly a touchdown. After the game Fleener said, “I saw the end zone right behind me. I got excited and left the ball behind me. Now I know that’s the difference in the game.” While it certainly was a major reason they lost it wasn’t the only reason.
The Colts committed some major mistakes and penalties on defense. In the first quarter, the Chargers had the ball and it was 3rd & 4. Then Colts defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois committed a Neutral Zone Infraction which gave the Chargers a first down. It did not lead to any points, but the next penalties the Colts committed certainly did.
Twice in the second quarter, cornerback Greg Toler committed major penalties. The first penalty came on a big 3rd and 4. But due to Toler holding the receiver, the Chargers got a first down. It would lead to a touchdown. If he hadn’t held, it would have been 4th down and the Chargers would have had to punt.
The second big penalty by Toler happened on 3rd and 6. This time it was for illegal contact on a ball that was uncatchable. That was a mistake that should not have been made. It led to an automatic first down and the Chargers kicked a field goal. Like the previous penalty, the Chargers would have been forced to punt. That is ten points that the Chargers got because of penalties.
Francois, who committed the Neutral Zone Infraction said, “You’ve been executing the whole week and you finally see it in the game, then you see dropped passes, unnecessary penalties, it makes you frustrated.”
The Chargers were handed many gifts. It would have been a completely different game if the Chargers hadn’t had the lead the whole game. They were able to run the ball twenty more times then the Colts.
The Chargers offensive line played magnificent, leading the way for 147 rushing yards including 102 by Ryan Mathews. Robert Mathis of the Colts is leading the league with 9.5 sacks and most people probably expected him to have two sacks against the banged up Chargers offensive line. Instead, the Chargers line held their own. After the game Mathis commented about Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, “We weren’t able to get to him enough and he converted those critical third downs.”
In the fourth quarter, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne caught his 1,000th career catch. He is only the ninth player to reach that milestone. “It’s a great honor,” Wayne said, “I would rather take the W than any accolades.”
The Colts, who were 4-1 with big wins against Seattle and San Francisco, will host the undefeated Denver Broncos this week in Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis where he played almost his entire career.
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