INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday brought a victory – 19-9 over the Kansas City Chiefs – and you never want to dispute the value of a victory.
But scrappy as the Colts (3-2) might seem today, they are a team with a lot of questions.
Already proven to be porous on defense, now we must ask why quarterback Peyton Manning didnt throw the ball very well at Lucas Oil Stadium? Why does the offense look so out of sync? Where has the aura of invincibility gone?
What if the Chiefs (3-1) hadnt played quizzically?
We are kind of what we are, said Manning, after completing 26 of 44 passes for 244 yards with an interception. Every week, were just trying to do what we have to in order to win. People want to compare it to previous seasons and what weve done in this phase of our offense, but thats not what were doing. Were trying to form the identity of this team.
What is that identity?
Against the Chiefs, it was one of errant or dropped passes, 33 percent efficiency in the red zone and a botched run attempt on fourth-and-2 in the second quarter.
Weve been somewhat inconsistent, Manning said. Well play really good one game and then have a dropoff. Were still looking for all three phases of our team to play well at the same time. Weve kind of alternated and, as a result, alternated winning and losing. Hopefully, we can put it together from here on out and start playing really good team football.
Thats easier said than done, since the impending schedule is Washington, bye week, Houston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New England, Dallas, Tennessee.
If those teams are smart, they will learn from the Chiefs mistakes, which started with a bungled game-opening onside kick attempt. Save for a fumble, Kansas City ran the ball well, getting 108 yards on 24 carries from Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. But when the Chiefs got in Indianapolis territory or in short-yardage situations, they passed the ball and wound up with only three Ryan Succop field goals.
It was a perfect case of a teams offensive coordinator – former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis – outsmarting himself.
The Colts were ravaged by injuries coming into the game and then lost running back Joseph Addai to a shoulder injury early in the third quarter. And Mannings timing with some of the players having recently returned from injuries – namely receiver Pierre Garcon – seems off.
Their depth saved matters. Third-string running back Mike Hart looked super, running 11 times for 50 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown late in the game. Safety Aaron Francisco, who was a free agent Tuesday, started the game and played well.
But the Colts most potent weapon was Adam Vinatieri, who had four field goals.
It wasnt a performance the Colts want to repeat.