EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Andrew Luck overthrew receivers, turned the ball over and couldn’t get the Colts’ offense going.
The No. 1 overall draft pick was simply shut down by the New York Jets, who ran all over the Colts’ defense – including Shonn Greene’s career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries – in a 35-9 rout Sunday.
You realize you have to bring focus and attention to detail, Luck said. Otherwise, you’re going to be in a tough spot. It’s learning how to be consistent, and that’s something I’ve struggled with. I think I played very poorly this week after a decent half of football last weekend.
As a team, we have to learn to come out and consistently be good.
Luck finished 22 of 44 for 280 yards but threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He also misfired a couple of times when he had open receivers – including former Stanford teammate Coby Fleener in the end zone in the second quarter.
He was too anxious, interim coach Bruce Arians said of Luck.
The frustrating thing for Indianapolis (2-3) was that New York (3-3) did exactly what it planned for – and the Colts still couldn’t do anything about the Jets’ running game. That kept things simple for Mark Sanchez, who was 11 of 18 for just 82 yards but threw touchdown passes to Stephen Hill and Jason Hill.
We wanted Sanchez to have to beat us with his arm, cornerback Jerraud Powers said. If we stopped the run, that was what they were going to have to do. Whoever we play next week, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to run the ball until we stop it.
The Jets rolled up 252 yards on the ground, Sanchez was solid and efficient, and Tim Tebow made a few big plays. Even the Jets’ maligned defense was impressive as New York snapped a two-game losing streak that had many wondering whether the season was about to spiral out of control.
We want to be a team no one wants to play, Jets coach Rex Ryan said. And, we’re on our way.
Indianapolis thought it might have been, too, especially after erasing an 18-point halftime deficit and beating Green Bay a week ago. The Colts trailed 21-6 after two quarters Sunday, but this time, couldn’t muster much of a comeback.
Last week’s win was the Colts’ first for Arians, who’s filling in for Chuck Pagano, hospitalized while being treated for leukemia.
I got a message from him just before the game and he said he had his best night ever so far, and it was very uplifting, Arians said. Hopefully, he can sleep tonight. I won’t.
The Indianapolis players scoffed at the notion that this was an emotional letdown.
No, in terms of this week, I think we had a great week of practice which makes his loss more disappointing even, Luck said. We came in here and didn’t execute. I know I played very poorly on my end. The second drive of the game, a wide-open Fleener in the end zone. Maybe if I hit that, maybe it’s a somewhat different ballgame.
Luck was driving the Colts down the field for a possible touchdown with less than 7 minutes left, but Ellis Lankster ended that when he intercepted the rookie’s toss for Donnie Avery in the end zone. Three field goals by Adam Vinatieri, including a 50-yarder, accounted for all of Indianapolis’ scoring.
If you can’t block and you can’t tackle, you can’t win, Arians said. It’s fundamentals, things we identified going into the game: fake punts, stopping the run, protecting the quarterback. Red zone offense and defense were keys to the game. We didn’t win in any of those areas.
Meanwhile, the Jets had their best overall performance – save for a handful of personal foul penalties – since an opening-week rout of Buffalo. New York ran 44 times in the game, averaging 5.7 yards a carry.
When you’re running the ball that well, Sanchez said, you never want to stop.
The Colts were playing without sacks leader Robert Mathis and leading rusher Donald Brown. Vick Ballard, Brown’s replacement, had just 25 yards in his first NFL start.
Tebow helped the Jets take a 21-6 lead just before halftime on a drive that was kept alive by some trickery. On fourth-and-11 from the Colts 40, the do-it-all backup quarterback – lined up as the punt protector – took the direct snap, stepped forward and tossed a jump pass to linebacker Nick Bellore, who rumbled 23 yards as the crowd at MetLife Stadium went wild.
Three plays later, Tebow was in at quarterback and ran 3 yards for a first down on third-and-1 from the 8, setting up Sanchez’s 5-yard TD toss to Jason Hill with 27 seconds left. Tebow met Sanchez as he ran toward the sideline and the two leaped and bumped hips to celebrate the score.
We were very efficient, effective, Tebow said. We had some big runs, threw the ball really well in the red area and converted on third down. It was a pretty good day for us.