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Peyton’s looming return may have distracted Colts

Fleener AP

On Monday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, Rodney Harrison said that Monday night’s game would show whether the Colts have the maturity to ignore the return of Peyton Manning to Indianapolis in only six days and focus on the task at hand.

The focus apparently wasn’t there — especially when it came to catching the football.

There were at least four drops of consequence, one each from tight end Coby Fleener, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, receiver Reggie Wayne, and running back Trent Richardson.  For Fleener and Heyward-Bey, the gaffes prevented what would have been (or at least should have been) touchdowns.

“We dropped balls,” coach Chuck Pagano said after the game, via quotes distributed by the team.  “They got after us, but still that’s uncharacteristic of our guys to not make the plays they usually make.  Looking back over the tape, we’ve got to get it cleaned up.”

“Drops always haunt you and bad throws always haunt you but I got bailed out a couple times by some great catches from Reggie,” quarterback Andrew Luck added, trying to tiptoe around the perception that he’d be blaming the guys on whom he regularly relies to catch passes.

Wayne had no specific explanation or excuse for his mistake.

“I don’t know, just dropped the ball,” Wayne said.  “That’s all I can tell you.  Nobody wants to go out there and drop balls, miss blocks and make penalties. That is part of the game. We have to correct them.”

Richardson said he was “very surprised” by the drops.

“That’s something we don’t do,” Richardson said.  “We have to correct it.  From this lesson and taste in our mouth, we beat ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong they made a lot of good plays and that’s a good team, but I felt the whole game that we weren’t going to lose.”

Fleener, who has developed a reputation for dropping the ball, realized that he was running with it before he secured it.

“I saw the end zone right behind me,” Fleener said.  “I got excited and left the ball behind me.  Now I know that’s the difference in the game.”

While no one said it, it’s impossible not to connect the much-hyped, both locally and nationally, return of Peyton Manning to the lack of focus.  While Pagano claimed he hasn’t “thought one iota about that right now,” it’s possible that his players got at least a little caught up in the idea that they’d be able to show up and handle a so-so Chargers team before focusing completely on the return of Peyton.

In that regard, it didn’t help that owner Jim Irsay opened the door on looking past the Chargers game by talking last week about the “great tribute” the team will have for Manning when he returns.

It’ll be tremendous,” Irsay said. “They will cheer, as deserved. When he comes back on the field, I think there will be a boisterous standing ovation, as there should be. He means so much to our franchise. It’s going to be crazy, but mostly it’ll be fun. I hope it’s just a great game.”

But there was still a game to be played before it.  When the owner speaks and it registers on the national radar, the players and the coaches hear it.  While the coaches may have the wisdom and maturity to block it out, good luck getting a locker room full of guys in their 20s to set aside the looming Peytonmania and focus completely and exclusively on the task at hand.

Regardless of the specific reason(s), the focus simply wasn’t there on Monday night.

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39 Responses to “Peyton’s looming return may have distracted Colts”
  1. bigblackanvil says: Oct 15, 2013 7:57 AM

    Horrible excuse for a loss. Worst ever. ” If you wanna crown the Colts then crown…,but they are who we thought they are…This time they didn’t get off the hook.”

  2. spicymudbugs says: Oct 15, 2013 8:05 AM

    Colts looked horrible.

  3. johnnyjagfan says: Oct 15, 2013 8:07 AM

    That was a sloppy game. Chargers got away with playing mediocre football last night. Colts may or may not have had Peyton on the brain, but they didn’t have football. Made for a tough game to watch.

  4. lennydpocketqb says: Oct 15, 2013 8:08 AM

    Peyton going to make the Colts pay for Irsay’s disrespect this week.

  5. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Oct 15, 2013 8:16 AM

    Does anyone really think those four players had Peyton Manning’s return on their mind at the moments they were dropping those footballs?

  6. bennyb82 says: Oct 15, 2013 8:20 AM

    Yeah a bunch of guys who never even played with Peyton were dropping balls because they were thinking about next Sunday night…

  7. deidunx says: Oct 15, 2013 8:22 AM

    That Peyton back in Indy game just lost a little bit of its lustre. It’s one thing to get beat but it’s another thing to show the whole world that you aren’t that good on prime time. I bet even ads have become a tad bit cheaper for that spot than they were a few hours before the game.

  8. 12444uggg says: Oct 15, 2013 8:32 AM

    As a Colt fan it’s fair to say SD played a good game and kept the ball out of #12′s hands. Peyton’s homecoming didn’t do that. Rivers exploited Toller enough to keep the chains moving. I can’t believe the offense generated only 9 points. That’s a sure fire recipe to lose games. They’ll play better on sunday, but they’ll have to play a lot better to hang with the Cos.

  9. MO/JO says: Oct 15, 2013 8:35 AM

    I’m sure when they were dropping passes they had Peyton Manning on their minds and we get it Mike, you don’t like Jim Irsay. I’m sure he is the reason they lost the game.

  10. PeterKingLovesCoqAVin says: Oct 15, 2013 8:35 AM

    Receivers dropped passes because they were thinking about playing against Peyton Manning’s team next week?

    Please.

  11. qdog112 says: Oct 15, 2013 8:38 AM

    Excuses, excuses, excuses … The Colts proved to not be ready for the bright lights of MNF. They played bad. Receivers dropped passes, the defense gave up plays and Luck threw bad balls.

    He was inaccurate, often throwing high, low or behind his targets. His legendary poise under fire was not on display. The hype did not match the play. If they would just allow him to play and grow, someday he may be good, but to anoint him as the second coming is absurd.

    Luck looked very ordinary last night and it wasn’t because of Denver. Afterall, how could it be that a team with Luck not be prepared and be caught looking ahead? Doesn’t his leadership make sure that doesn’t happen?

  12. humb0lt says: Oct 15, 2013 8:38 AM

    I thought the Chargers played a great game, executed a solid game plan and just plain were the better team.

  13. jimr10 says: Oct 15, 2013 8:39 AM

    It is just possible San Diego just outplayed them.

  14. dasmol says: Oct 15, 2013 8:43 AM

    A couple of those drops appeared to be a matter of the Colts receivers hearing footsteps.

  15. sanityinsd says: Oct 15, 2013 8:56 AM

    Yes, the Colts had about four drops but the Chargers outplayed them in every facet of the game, including coaching.

    Rivers was masterful in managing the play calling, blocking schemes and tempo. John Pagano outsmarted the Colts time and time again with his amoeba defense – all while playing with no edge rushers and two starting linebackers. It was simply a clinic on how to win an NFL game – rush the ball, stop the rush and play solid D.

    Give credit where credit is due.

  16. cornernum23 says: Oct 15, 2013 8:56 AM

    I don’t buy it. The concept of professional sportsmen being “distracted” by this or that has always seemed like a really weak and stupid argument to me. I’ve never gotten paid to play a sport on a professional level and even I don’t let anything distract me from playing football while the game is going on! just think about what you’re saying. Professional athletes are so taken with a guy, one player, coming in next week that they let that take them away from properly perparing and executing a game plan! That’s ridiculous. Like they’re out the going, “Oh man, Peyton is such a great player… oh no, I just dropped a pass.” Give me a break! How could they ever expect to beat the guy. Some of the players on the team never even met the guy! And who the heck is he anyway? He just one player on a team of 53, but his “looming presence” is supposed to be enough to keep me from doing my job as a professional? Come on man!

  17. FinFan68 says: Oct 15, 2013 9:21 AM

    No. They got outplayed. Too many drops. Chargers are good but manage to crumble late. They didn’t crumble last night

  18. espfdps says: Oct 15, 2013 9:29 AM

    Yea I’m sure as the ball was coming to them they thought to themselves ” wait Peyton is coming here next week! “

  19. jayhawk6 says: Oct 15, 2013 10:04 AM

    If Jim Irsay’s comments about the return of Peyton Manning to Indy did indeed create distractions for the Colts, then Bravo!

    Maybe Captain Looselips will cut down on his inane tweets as a result…or maybe he will just keep on proving himself to be foolish, self involved chatterbox.

  20. chrisco716 says: Oct 15, 2013 10:06 AM

    Both Denver and Indy played sloppy, unfocused, non-sharp games this weekend. Both appeared to be looking ahead to next week.

  21. trollhammer20 says: Oct 15, 2013 10:19 AM

    In the grander scheme of things, they had a big game last week against an undefeated opponent, and a big game this coming week against another undefeated opponent.

    Maybe they just didn’t take the Chargers as seriously as they took Seattle and will be taking Denver?

    That isn’t supposed to happen, of course, and yet, we see it numerous times in every season. Any given Sunday and all that.

  22. CKL says: Oct 15, 2013 10:28 AM

    At this point, SD still has the same MO as they have for years. One week, they look like they could beat anyone in the league, the next they struggle.That has to be frustrating for Chargers fans. I think they will compete for the playoffs though.

    Anyone else besides Colts fans think it’s pretty silly to celebrate an opposing team player’s return to your stadium? I do not care whatthe guy did in your team’s uniform, that stuff needs to be saved until after the guy retires IMO.

  23. natelan69 says: Oct 15, 2013 10:47 AM

    Chargers were the better team last night.

    Get over it.

  24. redemptionssong says: Oct 15, 2013 10:56 AM

    The only thing you can possibly blame on Peyton is that the receivers still had grease on their hands from the Papa Johns he sent them before the game.

  25. chargersdiehard says: Oct 15, 2013 11:20 AM

    Did a jag fan just say the chargers were mediocre? Now I’ve seen it all.

  26. jvn36 says: Oct 15, 2013 11:52 AM

    Yeah the colts dropped those passes… But guess who forced those 3rd and longs? The Bolts D. You gotta Give credit where credit is due. Those linebackers are practice squad players they played very well against luck. Stop makin excuses for the colts. AFC West is the division to beat. (Yes even the raiders)

  27. lance19 says: Oct 15, 2013 12:02 PM

    If I screw up at work today, I’m totally gonna blame it on thinkin’ about Peyton.

    (seriously folks: Chargers played well, Colts didn’t)

  28. zerohandicapper says: Oct 15, 2013 12:41 PM

    Indianapolis has the worst fans ever. I live in Indy, but have been a lifelong niners fan. I have been to some of the biggest games in Indy, and I cannot tell you how pathetic colts fans are. They were satisfied with great regular season records. Manning brought Indy ONE superbowl, on a team that could have won 4. Manning is the best regular season quarterback ever…and the pathetic Indy fans will praise him for 4 quarters.

  29. cletusvandam says: Oct 15, 2013 1:13 PM

    zerohandicapper says:
    Oct 15, 2013 12:41 PM
    Indianapolis has the worst fans ever. I live in Indy, but have been a lifelong niners fan. I have been to some of the biggest games in Indy, and I cannot tell you how pathetic colts fans are. They were satisfied with great regular season records. Manning brought Indy ONE superbowl, on a team that could have won 4. Manning is the best regular season quarterback ever…and the pathetic Indy fans will praise him for 4 quarters.

    —————–
    I too am a lifelong 49er fan living just outside Indy. I agree Colts fans are the worse. A couple years ago when the Colts had a horrible record (they were intentionally throwing games to get Luck, but the average fan didn’t know that) there wasn’t a single Colts fan to be seen. They even had trouble selling out games! Then they over-achieved last season and here comes all the “fans” back on the bandwagon.
    I think the local news is the worst though. “Nine people murdered, but first the Colts play on Monday Night Football so we are going to talk about the for the entire hour!” The good news is they lost, and they will lose again next week so the rest of October should be pretty good.

  30. abnparatrooper says: Oct 15, 2013 1:35 PM

    @ zerohandicapper @ cletusvandam

    Really? The colts fans are the worst fans ever? Last time I checked colts fans don’t get into numerous fights and murder other fans inside the stadium DURING THE GAME! And during the entire decade of the 2000′s when your team was a bottom feeder of the league where you all then? I’ll take colts fans over the murderers and other felons that call themselves 49ers fans any day of the week. If you go to a game at candlestick you better be prepared to fight for your life while there.

  31. seattlelibtard says: Oct 15, 2013 1:58 PM

    abnparatrooper says:
    Oct 15, 2013 1:35 PM
    @ zerohandicapper @ cletusvandam

    Really? The colts fans are the worst fans ever? Last time I checked colts fans don’t get into numerous fights and murder other fans inside the stadium DURING THE GAME! And during the entire decade of the 2000′s when your team was a bottom feeder of the league where you all then? I’ll take colts fans over the murderers and other felons that call themselves 49ers fans any day of the week. If you go to a game at candlestick you better be prepared to fight for your life while there.
    ___________________________________

    Agreed. It’s pretty sad that people feel safer at a Raiders game.

  32. lennydpocketqb says: Oct 15, 2013 2:18 PM

    They might have been there since 1984 but the fan base didn’t start in Indianapolis until Peyton was drafted. So we have a somewhat uneducated, and at times inept fan base that has little football knowledge.

  33. correctingerrors says: Oct 15, 2013 2:24 PM

    … or maybe the chargers were just the better team last night and deserve credit.

  34. yourmomsnewfriend says: Oct 15, 2013 2:33 PM

    Garbage excuses. They were beaten by the better team last night. Last time I checked, dropped passes are a part of the game. It’s not like Zeus struck down the ball with a mighty fist.

    As far as players having next week’s game on their minds? Just stop. Probably less than half the active roster even played with Manning. As far as they know, he’s just some old dude with a bum neck, who used to play there.

  35. National Fanatic says: Oct 15, 2013 2:39 PM

    Chargers didn’t make any big mistakes. That’s why they won.
    Since the COLTS had a case of the DROPSIES, Trent Richarson should’ve run for 20 attempts, not 10.

    I give the win to the Chargers coaching staff. It was a classic game of KEEP-AWAY

  36. raiderapologist says: Oct 15, 2013 4:49 PM

    In Heyward-Bey’s defense, he is always thinking about Peyton Manning, as he is always dropping passes.

  37. ibchr says: Oct 15, 2013 5:02 PM

    What will be their excuse next week?

  38. travis0244 says: Oct 15, 2013 5:17 PM

    So for over a decade, Peyton Manning was blamed for Colts losses, despite continually leading them to the playoffs, and even winning a Superbowl with them(Don’t feed me that “He only beat Rex Grossman garbage. The D was terrible until the playoffs started. They never would have been there without Manning). Yet now, three years removed from playing a game for the Colts, he’s still being blamed for them losing.. I love the Colts and all but what’s next? Are they going to blame him for losing nthe next game too? ..Oh wait, I guess they will. That’s fair.

  39. jameslongstaffe says: Oct 16, 2013 2:20 AM

    Should have, & perhaps could have… but that works both ways.

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