Blowing the early opportunities, Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said, “can be the difference in the game.”
Those opportunities were the difference in the game, once the offense started blowing more of them in the second half.
With the Patriots concentrating on shutting down Addai (187 total yards in the first half, 39 in the second), the Colts’ passing game needed to take advantage. It couldn’t. Manning can be blamed for the interception he threw straight to Harrison after New England went three-and-out on its first second-half drive. The rest falls on his teammates: Wayne’s third-quarter drop; fourth-quarter penalties on the linemen that killed momentum on two drives; and Johnson’s whiffing twice against Colvin on Manning’s blind side to allow him to force two fumbles, including one with 2:34 left on what ended up being the Colts’ last possession.
Manning finished 16-of-27 for 225 yards, respectable numbers against the NFL’s No. 5 pass defense, which entering the RCA Dome had allowed 181.5 yards per game. Addai became the first Colt ever to gain more than 100 yards rushing and receiving (112 rushing, 114 receiving). Even with the late breakdowns, the defense never shrank away from the Patriots, holding them 17 points under their usual per-game average.
So the problems, as Dungy liked to say about last year’s terrible Colts run defense, are fixable. Gonzalez, diagnosing how to dry out the receivers’ buttery fingers, said: “You just have to catch the ball. There’s nothing extravagant about it. And at least Ugoh, Hagler and Keiaho should be coming back soon, though reports vary wildly on Harrison — he’s either coming back soon, or his career is over.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
True, a loss to New England is not the end of the world. The loss also doesn’t turn Manning into a big-game loser again. But it is still a major blow to the Colts’ hopes at winning a second straight title. That might be one reason why Manning won’t call out his teammates for their mistakes. He has too much to do to help get them back on the right track so they are ready for a more difficult game. Like, say, a January playoff matchup in Foxborough.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
CSN: The Super Bowl's golden anniversary will be held in the Golden State. The new stadium, which opens in 2014, in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L two years later, the NFL announced Tuesday.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
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