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Fourth quarter a problem for Colts
The Indianapolis Colts head into their bye week with a 3-7 record.
It's not a record the franchise has become accustomed to. Since the start of the 2000 regular season, the Colts have registered 191 victories (counting the playoffs). That's third-best in the NFL behind New England (233) and Pittsburgh (197).
Indianapolis has lost three games this season Arizona, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by three points or less. Finishing games has been an issue.
Not having franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, of course, is a big reason for the team's struggles this season. Luck had hoped to be back by the start of October, at the latest. But his rehab from offseason right shoulder surgery has taken longer than initially expected.
Indianapolis has also suffered other key season-ending injuries, most notably to defensive end Henry Anderson, rookie safety Malik Hooker, guard Jack Mewhort, and running back Robert Turbin.
"Life is hard. This profession is hard," head coach Chuck Pagano admits. "You do it for the moments. We haven't had a whole bunch of those (this season). That's how it goes. Some seasons are like this. It's revealing just what we know about these guys.
"They're going to work, they're going to fight and they're going to prepare no matter what. That's what you do. It makes you better if you don't quit, if you don't give in. You've got to grow. You've got to be honest. You keep going, you keep going, you keep going."
It looks like the team will get some help after the bye.
Safety Clayton Geathers, who has not played in a game since last December due to offseason neck surgery, could get the green light to play against Tennessee. The same goes for tight end Erik Swoope, who has been sidelined since the early stages of training camp with a knee injury.
Guard/tackle Denzelle Good returned for last week's Pittsburgh game after being sidelined early in the season with a wrist/hand injury.
Among the bright spots so far this season has been the play of quarterback Jacoby Brissett, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, outside linebacker John Simon, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, nose tackle Al Woods, rookie running back Marlon Mack and rookie punter Rigoberto Sanchez.
Veterans like running back Frank Gore, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, tackle Anthony Castonzo, and kicker Adam Vinatieri have continued to play well.
First, though, is the bye. The team got together Monday to review Sunday's loss to the Steelers as well as tend to their various bumps and bruises. Pagano is letting his team take the rest of the week off.
"Get away, be smart, do the right thing, make great choices, be great pros," the Colts coach told his team. "Don't do anything to hurt yourself or hurt the team. Reflect on where we're at and get your (butts) ready to roll when you get back.
"We're going right back to work (after the bye). We'll all be back here charged up and ready to go and get ready for a home division game against Tennessee."