SEATTLE -- All it took was a matter of just two snaps -- one on defense, one on offense -- and a total of 13 seconds off the game clock for things to come crashing back to reality for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts, a team that played with extreme confidence in the first half, couldn’t tackle on a 30-yard touchdown run and then couldn’t block on a strip-sack that was scooped up and returned for a 21-yard touchdown.
Fourteen points. All the momentum. Game over.
The Colts' thoughts of an upset on the road were squashed then in what ended up being a blowout loss, 46-18, to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The Colts were outscored 36-3 in the second half.
"We killed ourselves," Colts running back Robert Turbin said. "When you're playing against good teams, championship-caliber teams, you can’t give them too much. We did that. We couldn't rebound from it and you saw what happened from it."
What happened at CenturyLink Field was further proof that the margin of error the Colts have without quarterback Andrew Luck is basically none. There’s hope that Luck, who has been out since January following right shoulder surgery, could return to practice this week.
The thought of the Colts coming into the hostile environment and beating the Seahawks officially ended after running back J.D. McKissic eluded a number of Indianapolis defenders on a 30-yard touchdown run and Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner picked up the loose ball following Marcus Smith’s strip of quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
But the Colts’ problems started at the end of the second quarter and carried over to the third. Indianapolis caught a break when kicker Blair Walsh missed a 37-yard field goal after it allowed the Seahawks to go 56 yards in just 19 seconds to end the first half, where the Colts led 15-10.
It turns out Seattle was only warming up at that point.
The Colts, who have yet to play a complete game this season, became undisciplined as soon as they stepped on the field in the second half. They were called for five penalties -- two were offsetting -- on Seattle’s opening drive of the half that ended with quarterback Russell Wilson, or Houdini as Colts coach Chuck Pagano calls him, scrambling 23 yards for a touchdown on what was a broken play.
The Colts don't want but can tolerate their young players making mistakes. What they can't afford is for their veterans to pick up silly penalties. Defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins was responsible for two, including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike call, of the five penalties on Seattle's touchdown drive.
"Killed us," Pagano said about the penalties on the drive. "They tried to keep us in it, they were throwing flag after flag after flag."
It was as if the Seahawks spent the first half toying with and teasing the Colts to give them belief that they could win. Indianapolis dominated the time of possession by having the ball for 19 minutes and 56 seconds of the first 30 minutes. Pagano, whose track record of winning challenges is questionable, even won two of them.
The third quarter was completely different.
The Colts had the ball for only 3 minutes, 32 seconds. They didn’t pick up a first down and gained a total of just 11 yards. And by the end of that quarter, the game was essentially over.
"Felt like we did what we needed to do to start the game, but you have to play 60 minutes," Pagano said. "Can’t come out in the second half and do the things to hurt yourself that we did. Turnovers and penalties and communication breakdowns and give up big plays, protection issues. They just outplayed us in the second half. Didn’t do a good job of adjusting. ... It’s going to be the same song and dance if we don’t get things cleaned up and we don’t find ways to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and put a complete game together."