Battered Colts Finally Succumb
QB Peyton Manning (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
QB Peyton Manning (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Posted Jan 10, 2011


The Indianapolis Colts played about as well as they could in their AFC wild-card playoff game with the New York Jets. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite good enough. Nick Folk's 32-yard field goal with 0:03 remaining in the game proved to be the difference as the Jets rallied for a 17-16 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"Our guys fought hard all year long. I think they overcame a lot of things over the stretch. A great effort, but we just ran out of time," coach Jim Caldwell said.

"It was just one of those games. It was the kind of game where everything gets looked at closely. But you've got to give credit to (the Jets). They did a heck of a job."

The Colts battled crippling injuries all season long, using 72 total players during the year and having as many as 18 players on the team's injured reserve list.

Indianapolis played most of the season without the likes of tight end Dallas Clark, wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie as well as safeties Bob Sanders, Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva.

Other key personnel, such as running backs Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Mike Hart, missed lengthy stretches with injury issues of their own.

The Colts were able to fill gaps with street free agents, most notably safety Aaron Francisco, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, and running back Dominic Rhodes.

And the team got vital contributions from rookies like wide receiver Blair White, running back Javarris James, linebacker Pat Angerer and linebacker Kavell Conner.

Experience gained by the Colts' younger players — plus the return of the long list of injured players who sat out all or most of the season — should bode well heading into the 2011 campaign.

"Our standards around here are high. We got into the playoffs but we've always believed that our goals are to win championships here. We're disappointed in losing (to the Jets). We didn't win it. But we've got to move forward regardless of the circumstances," the Colts' coach said.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Getting maximum help from a group of younger players who weren't expected to make such valuable contributions this early in their NFL careers.

With as many injuries to key players that the Colts were forced to contend with, being able to win 10 games for a ninth straight season, earn a seventh AFC South championships and make their ninth straight postseason appearance.

Placekicker Adam Vinatieri had an outstanding season as he came back from knee and hip injuries last year. Bringing back running back Dominic Rhodes in early December also gave the Colts a big shot in the arm just when the team needed it the most.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Too many injuries. Every team in the NFL has injury issues at some point in the season, but it became ridiculous for the Colts.

Also, inconsistent play along the offensive line hindered Indianapolis' running attack for most of the year. As did the up-and-down play of the Colts' defensive unit.

Fortunately, Indianapolis was able to right the ship in some respects during the team's four-game December winning streak. But the injuries and the inconsistent play really put the Colts in a difficult position through the mid-portion of the 2010 schedule.

PLAYER NOTES

— PK Adam Vinatieri's 50-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter that gave the Colts a 16-14 lead was his longest kick since making a 52-yarder against New England in 2008.

— QB Peyton Manning's 57-yard touchdown pass to WR Pierre Garcon in the second quarter was his sixth scoring pass of at least 50 yards in the post-season. That ties Joe Montana's NFL record.

— WR Reggie Wayne caught just one pass for one yard against the Jets. Wayne had a team-high 111 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.

— WR Pierre Garcon hauled in five passes for 112 yards and a TD against the Jets. He had 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown against New York in last year's AFC title game.

— RB Joseph Addai's 60 yards rushing was his most productive game since his 17-carry, 128-yard performance at Washington on Oct. 17.

— CB Kelvin Hayden was placed on injured reserve before the game. Hayden had missed the previous five games with a pinched nerve in his neck.

OT Joe Reitz was signed to the active roster from the practice squad before the game.

— OT Ryan Diem missed the Jets game with a sore back. He did not practice last week.

— OT Jeff Linkenbach made his fifth start of the season but his first at right offensive tackle. He had also seen work at right offensive guard and at left offensive tackle.


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