INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts were one of the feel-good stories in the first half of the season.
They overcame the loss of five key offensive players, including veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, to jump out to a 6-2 record. Half of those six wins came against legitimate playoff teams in San Francisco, Denver and Seattle.
But all it took was a 38-8 throttling by the St. Louis Rams on Sunday to send the Colts crashing back down. The worst home loss in 20 years even had Colts owner Jim Irsay turning to Twitter to voice his frustration.
The Colts are in the position of having to piece things back together with a short week of preparation for Thursday’s game at Tennessee.
“I don’t think anybody is having a freak out session, in a sense, but we’ll work at it and hopefully get better,” quarterback Andrew Luck said.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano was frustrated after Sunday's game – even using a rare expletive during his postgame news conference – and the agitation was still in his voice almost 24 hours later.
“We didn’t do much of anything to give ourselves a chance in any of the phases,” he said. “Certainly not in the beginning and middle or the end to give us a chance to play, compete and win that football game.”
The defense and special teams both gave up big plays to Rams rookie Tavon Austin, but the area that continues to be of concern for Indianapolis is its offensive line.
Pagano is open to making a lineup change on the line.
“We’ll continue to look at every area of our football team and address things that need to be addressed,” he said. “Not only the offensive line, the wide receivers, the back end, whatever it is. We’re going to do whatever is best for this football and whatever gives us the best chance to win a football game.”
General manager Ryan Grigson signed tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas in the offseason in an attempt to upgrade the line. It turns out the line has been just as bad this season. Rookie Hugh Thornton is now starting at guard because Thomas (quad) is out for the season. The interior three of Thornton, guard Mike McGlynn and center Samson Satele has struggled the most. McGlynn will wear a cast on his right thumb after fracturing it Sunday.
Luck has been sacked more times through nine games this season – 22 – than he was at the same point last season – 21 – when he was sacked 41 times.
Indianapolis was a top-five rushing team earlier this season, but its run game has been nonexistent the past two games. Luck accounted for 18 of the team’s 17 yards rushing against the Rams.
“I know we got to block better, we got to run better,” Pagano said. “We got to be on the same page. Somehow, some way we have to be able to run the football. … It makes it difficult because you become one-dimensional. When people take that away from you and you got to drop back and throw it every time, then they’re teeing off and they’re not honoring the run game. So our inability to run the football of late, it hurts your football team.”
The Colts have yet to lose back-to-back games under Pagano and they have a chance to put their loss to St. Louis behind them and extend their lead in the AFC South to three games with a victory over the Titans on Thursday.
“Learn from your mistakes, look back and you don’t want to forget the whole game in a sense,” Luck said. “You get better, but we realize there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself, no time to lament. We have a tough ball game coming up in a matter of days.”