Colts need to find some consistency before playoffs
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Chuck Pagano is wasting no time trying to get back on track.
The Colts coach wants his team to gain some momentum heading into the postseason. But Indianapolis' problems in a 42-7 thrashing at Dallas on Sunday were too obvious and could be lethal for a team with hopes of a playoff run.
''You want to be confident going into the playoffs and you want to go in feeling good about yourself,'' Pagano said. ''Nobody wants to go through a day like we went through yesterday, but you have to bounce back and you have to keep moving forward.
''We've got a game to play this Sunday and we better prepare and we better practice and try to clean up what we can clean up in a short amount of time.''
The Colts (10-5) have to turn things around quickly with the playoffs beginning the first weekend in January. The AFC South champs plan to get on a roll starting this weekend at Tennessee (2-13) in the regular-season finale.
Indy had won four straight before the Cowboys ended the streak. Still, the Colts haven't been playing well and Dallas took full advantage.
The Colts had three turnovers, eight penalties and were held to just 1 yard rushing - something that certainly surprised Pagano.
''I've never seen it, and obviously it's out of character for us,'' he said. ''You're not going to win a football game by rushing for 1 yard. You have to be able to run the ball in the playoffs, you have to be able to run the ball on the road late in the playoffs in January. We all know that.''
Nothing went Indy's way.
In the first quarter, linebacker Jerrell Freeman was penalized for taunting on third down and with a chance to force the Cowboys to punt.
Later, Pat McAfee faked a punt and instead threw a pass that was dropped by a wide-open receiver, and the Colts turned the ball over on downs.
Dallas scored on both ensuing possessions.
''From that point on, it just seemed like what could go wrong did go wrong,'' Pagano said. ''We just didn't execute and didn't play good football.''
Indy is looking for a different performance this week against a struggling Titans team that has lost nine in a row.
The Colts were just settling into a groove when they beat Tennessee 41-17 on Sept. 28. It was Indy's second win after starting the season with two losses. The Colts won five straight before a loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 26, and Indianapolis hasn't been consistent since.
''When you look back early in the season,'' Pagano said. ''You saw the way the offense was moving the football on the ground, through the air mostly, guys making plays, moving the chains, staying on the field, winning the time of possession, taking care of the football for the most part. But we have not played well and have not executed well, and we need to get it fixed and we need to get it fixed in a hurry.''
Injuries have damaged the Colts, too.
Starting offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus missed Sunday's game with a groin injury. Various offensive linemen have faced injury issues, making it tough for the Colts to develop some continuity, Pagano said.
''That obviously makes it more difficult,'' he said. ''We'd like to hopefully settle in at some point before this thing's over with. It's coming down to the wire with one regular-season game left and then the playoffs.''
NOTES: Pagano said he expects Hilton (hamstring) to play this week against the Titans. . Pagano said tight end Dwayne Allen had an MRI on a knee injured in Sunday's game and is day to day. . Pagano said Freeman is day to day with a hamstring injury. . Cherilus is day to day and Pagano said it was ''too early to tell'' if he would return this week.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL