Indianapolis Colts Suffer Ugly Loss to Houston Texans

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Indianapolis Colts fans now have an idea of what life is like without Peyton Manning in a meaningful game.

And it’s not a pretty idea.

The Colts opened the 2011 NFL season in quite an ugly fasihon, falling 34-7 to the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Texans scored all of their 34 points in the first half.

One thing is for certain: this season will test the patience of the Colts’ fan base.

It didn’t look so bad at the outset.

On the first offensive series of the game, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub threw a pass that bounced off the hands of receiver Andre Johnson and into the clutches of Colts safety Melvin Bullitt.

The Colts unable to convert the interception into points, the Texans drove for a field goal and subsequently an early 3-0 lead.

It started getting ugly after that.

Two Kerry Collins fumbles — the first on a strip-sack and the second on a botched snap — gave the Texans excruciatingly short field position and a quick 17-0 advantage.

A Schaub-to-Johnson touchdown and a punt return for a score by Jacoby Jones rounded out Houston’s scoring on the day — all before the half.

Schaub finished 17-of-24 with a touchdown and two interceptions, the latter of which came in the second half courtesy of linebacker Gary Brackett. Brackett sprained his shoulder on the play and did not return.

Johnson reeled in seven catches for 95 yards and the score.

A lot went wrong for the Colts today. Some of those things stuck out in particular.

  • The offense sans Manning. The unit sure looked like it missed its four-time MVP. The Colts amassed just 236 net yards and didn’t score until the fourth quarter when linebakcer Pat Angerer’s fumble recovery led to a beautiful connection from Collins to receiver Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone. The running game actually looked solid when Indy could run. Joseph Addai managed 4.9 yards per carry on eight rushes, and rookie Delone Carter displayed the power he was said to have when the Colts drafted him. The early deficit just didn’t allow for much running.
  • Kerry Collins’ fumbles. If not for them, one might argue the score wouldn’t have been as lopsided as it was. Collins’ pocket presence, predictably, was shaky at best in the early going. Granted, the offensive line couldn’t do much to help him against the aggressive Wade Phillips-led Texans pass rush, but nonetheless the issues at quarterback put the Colts in a hole from which they could not reemerge.
  • Defensive deja vu. It wasn’t quite the 231-yard pounding that Arian Foster delivered in last year’s season opener (Foster was out Sunday with a hamstring injury), but the Texans once again ran wild on the Colts. Houston earned 167 net yards on the ground, 116 of which were amassed by second-year man Ben Tate. The Texans’ effectiveness running the ball opened things up for Schaub and the passing game, and for the most part Houston had its way with the Indy defense again.

It might be tough to imagine, but a few positives did surface in the drubbing.

Collins and the offense started to find a rhythm. The veteran QB still has a strong arm, and he delivered some nice throws when he had time in the pocket. Wayne gave a brilliant effort in defeat, reeling in seven catches for 106 yards and the score. Austin Collie made a grab in the end zone at the end of the game that was ruled incomplete and should have been challenged for a touchdown (coach Jim Caldwell has to take his points by force in any situation whatsoever).

As previously mentioned, the running game looked solid when it had opportunities. I think this facet could become more and more prominent as the season goes on, and it needs to do so with Manning out of the fold.

In all, it was an ugly one to watch, but such is to be expected the first time without such a mainstay in Manning and with a replacement that that was retired just a month ago. It might seem crazy now, but the team has potential to improve.

It won’t happen quickly, though. And Colts fans need to be patient for it.

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