INDIANAPOLIS – I have a feeling this is how it's going to be all season with these Indianapolis Colts. You'll stand up and cheer. You'll collapse and cry. It's just a matter of which comes last.
The Colts' 22-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium was all over with the crying. Twice, in fact.
The first came when someone named Cecil Shorts III (sounds like a bankruptcy attorney) took a medium-sized pass over the middle from Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert and turned it into a super-sized 80-yard touchdown reception with 45 seconds left. The second came when Colts quarterback Andrew Luck took one final shot at Reggie Wayne in the end zone, only to see it batted away by a swarm of Jaguars.
Previous cheering moments: Luck's big early touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton, his late second-quarter scoring drive and Adam Vinatieri's 37-yard field goal with 56 seconds left that put Indy up 17-16 and looked like a second-straight game-winner.
Previous crying moments: Austin Collie taking a hit on his first catch and going motionless to the ground. Looks like a severe knee injury this time, which is good but bad. Also, Vinatieri shanking a 36-yarder left that would have put the Colts ahead and changed the game's complexion.
These Colts are not for the faint of heart or those whose weeks are determined by their Sundays.
“We've got a locker room full of guys that are just really in shock,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
They had a stadium full of fans in shock, innumerable fans at home in shock. Maybe even Edgerrin James, his name freshly minted on the Ring of Honor, was in shock. Nah, Edge probably just shook his head and moved on.
That's what the Colts have to do now. Move on. It won't be easy, even with a bye week coming up before an Oct. 7 home game against Green Bay.
“You think you have one in your back pocket and then, boom, it's gone,” Pagano said. “Division game, home game, everything. So like Robert (Mathis) said, 'There ain't no pity party.' ”
If you're looking for the silver lining, it's that fact that there's still the possibility of a party. Luck put up his second 300-yard game (22 of 46 for 313 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) and ran for 50 yards. Wayne continued to come up big (eight catches, 88 yards).
Hilton showed why he was drafted with his speed on a 40-yard touchdown catch. He also showed he's still a rookie when he failed to get out of bounds and stop the clock on a 36-yard catch on the Colts' last desperation drive. Luck had to sprint down and spike it. A lost down. A lost chance. There it was, in one play, a cheer and a cry.
“I think the finger needs to be pointed at me,” Luck said.
A valiant sentiment, but false. Luck can take some blame. He had a bad interception and missed some open receivers. But there are plenty of problems and second-guesses to go around.
How could Shorts get loose in the secondary on the final Jacksonville play? How could the Colts allow Gabbert – not to be mistaken for Tom Brady anytime soon – the time to make that throw? He was 9-of-20 for 75 yards before that play. He had no timeouts left.
How could Vinatieri miss a “chip shot” 36-yarder that could have changed the game's complexion?
How can Luck direct 2-minute drives to perfection to end every half this season, but sputter and stall for most of second halves?
How do you watch this team play without blood pressure medicine?
“I've been on both sides of that coin,” wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. “You have to play until the game is over. You can never get too high, never get too low on a certain play. Take your hats off to them. They didn't pack it in, just like we didn't. We just have to figure out a way to finish it.”
This one was all the more frustrating for the Colts considering it looked like they would survive the usual Maurice Jones-Drew onslaught. Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' running back, entered the game averaging 101 yards per game against the Colts. He put up 177 yards (his career-best vs. Colts), including a 59-yard touchdown, on Sunday.
Yet the last two times he had the ball, the Colts stopped him for no gain. That led to a change of possession, a big pass play from Luck to Donald Brown and Adam Vinatieri's seeming game-winner. Cue the short-lived cheers. Let Vinatieri feel redeemed for his earlier miss.
“Adam comes back and kicks what you would think would be the game-winner,” Pagano said. “But in the NFL, you know it doesn't matter how many ticks are left on there. Until it reads zero-zero-zero (0:00), anything can happen.”
That's what you're going to get with the Colts this season. Until it's 0:00, anything can happen.
They'll make you cheer. They'll make you cry. You never know which is coming. With these Colts, it's emotional roulette.