That's the inescapable conclusion after their latest pratfall, a 20-3 loss where they did virtually nothing to challenge a secondary held together by duct tape and baling wire.
|It might've been a different game if Peyton Manning had kept throwing to Brandon Stokley. (AP)|
Yet the Colts lost, and it wasn't close.
Critics may want to charge Manning with the defeat, claiming he can't win big games, especially when the Patriots are involved. But Manning wasn't responsible for this collapse; a bizarre game plan he tried to implement was.
I'm not sure where to start, but I know what rankled me most: The Colts didn't provide the game's best quarterback with the ammunition to attack New England's weakness. That, of course, was a secondary so short of experience the Patriots were forced to sign two free agents last week.
Common sense called for the Colts to do whatever they could to keep emergency defensive back Troy Brown on the field, forcing him to cover Brandon Stokley in an obvious mismatch. Yet they opened with two tight ends, stayed with two tight ends and broke from tradition only when they went no-huddle late in the first half.
That's when Manning completed 12 of 14, and the Colts came this close to scoring a touchdown before settling for a field goal. But they exposed the Patriots' weakness, and they would attack it again and again in the second half.
Or so it seemed.
Yet Indianapolis returned to its two tight-end formation in the third quarter, ran Edgerrin James on two of its first three plays and settled into a deep sleep. They didn't attack. They didn't force Brown on to the field. They didn't even look at Marvin Harrison.
And they got what they deserved -- a thumping.
"We tried to get some things going," said coach Tony Dungy. "We didn't get our running game going as well as we would have liked. We just didn't convert our third downs."
Now, let's get something straight here: Tony Dungy is one of the game's sharpest and most successful coaches. But to talk about getting a running game going when the Patriots are trotting out a wide receiver to cover your third wide receiver makes no sense.