GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Indianapolis Colts had 10 days off before facing the Arizona Cardinals.
It didn’t seem to do much good.
Struggling on both sides of the ball, the Colts put together a lackluster effort in the desert, leading to a 40-11 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.
We’re just not executing, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. We don’t tackle and we don’t make plays down the field. They made them, we didn’t. When you don’t execute and your opponents execute at that type of level, this is what happens.
Indianapolis struggled in its previous game against an NFC West team, losing 38-8 to St. Louis on Nov. 10, and looked just as bad against Arizona (7-4).
Unable to stop Arizona or keep the Cardinals off quarterback Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (7-4) trailed by 24 at halftime and had no chance of pulling off another comeback.
Arizona rolled over the Colts’ defense, running for 120 yards after gaining 13 last week against Jacksonville, while Carson Palmer threw for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals had scored 27 points in each of their three previous wins and had that by halftime against the Colts.
Indianapolis’ offense struggled all day, gaining most of its 239 yards after the game was out of hand.
Under pressure all day, Luck completed 20 of 39 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, with an interception that was returned for a touchdown during Arizona’s early onslaught.
It stinks. It is frustrating, but the onus is on us to get it fixed, Luck said. It is on the players to do our job and to do my job much better if we are going to have a chance to win consistently.
The story line heading into the game was the relationship between Pagano and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.
Pagano had to step away from the game after he was diagnosed with leukemia and Arians took over as interim coach. The Colts went 9-3 the rest of the way to make the playoffs and Arians was the coach of the year.
That helped the 60-year-old Arians get his first head coaching job, in Arizona, and set up the first time in NFL history the reigning coach of the year faced his old team the next season.
The emotions of this game were gone way before kickoff, Arians said. I saw a lot of friends, a lot of dear guys on that team. But that was part over. Once the whistle blows, it’s just you and your brother in the backyard.
This sibling rivalry was lopsided from the start.
The Cardinals had no trouble picking apart Indianapolis’ defense, going 80 yards in 10 plays – without facing a third down – on their opening drive for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals’ third drive was another effort in efficiency: 80 yards in five plays, capped by Palmer’s perfectly thrown pass to Fitzgerald for a 26-yard touchdown.
On offense, the Colts had a hard time protecting Luck, who had to make numerous escapes to avoid sacks.
One attempt backfired.
Draped by Arizona defensive end Darnell Dockett, Luck tried to throw as he was going down, but didn’t get much on it.
Arizona’s Karlos Dansby easily stepped in front of the receiver for interception and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown that put the Cardinals up 24-3.
Feely added a 50-yard field goal to give Arizona a 24-point halftime lead.
The Colts found the end zone in the fourth quarter, when Luck threw under pressure and hit Coby Fleener on a 17-yard touchdown pass. All that and the 2-point conversion did was cut Arizona’s lead to 34-11.