With the 3-9 Indianapolis Colts officially knocked out of contention for a postseason berth after their 30-10 loss at Jacksonville, head coach Chuck Pagano is looking to the immediate future.
That includes this week's road trip to Buffalo and next week's Thursday night home game with Denver.
For those who think that the Colts don't have a lot to play for in the final four weeks of the season, Pagano would beg to differ.
"You keep going. You keep playing. That's what you do, because you love ball," the Indianapolis coach said Monday.
Despite the rough couple of games that his young quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, has gone through the last two weeks -- losses to Tennessee and the Jaguars -- Pagano remains positive.
"He's battling, like everyone else. Giving everything he has," the coach said. "Nobody likes where we're at. Only thing that matters is winning and losing."
Brissett has been roughed up this season, both physically and mentally. But he appears to be holding up OK. The constant pressure from opposing defenses, however, has caused issues with consistency.
"Jacoby is tough. It's possible all the hits he's taken this year have begun to take a toll," Pagano said.
Injuries in the secondary have sidelined both starters. Veteran Rashaan Melvin (hand) might be back in time for the Denver game next Thursday.
The Colts will have to depend on three rookies -- Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston and Kenny Moore -- for now as they prepare to face the Bills. They struggled in the loss to Jacksonville Sunday.
"They've got to go play. (They are) in this league for a reason," the Colts coach said. "Growing pains. Tough deal. But (they) will get through it."
--For the 17th time under head coach Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis lost by at least 17 points. It's the fourth time that it has occurred this year (Rams, Seahawks, Jaguars twice).
--With his 61 yards rushing Sunday at Jacksonville, running back Frank Gore has moved up to fifth all-time in career rushing yards. Gore now has 13,697 yards. He passed both Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson and is behind Curtis Martin's 14,101 yards, who is in fourth place.
NOTES: CB Pierre Desir (shoulder) suffered a torn muscle and will be placed on IR. He incurred the season-ending injury against Jacksonville Sunday. ... CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) remains listed as week-to-week. Melvin was hurt against Tennessee on Nov. 26. It looks as if he will miss the Buffalo game. ... C Ryan Kelly (concussion) may be given the green light to return for limited practice on Wednesday. He remains in the league protocol process. ... TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring) is listed as week-to-week. He has missed the last two games and is not expected to be cleared for Sunday's game at Buffalo. ... DT Hassan Ridgeway (shoulder) is still week-to-week with his recovery process. Ridgeway has missed the last two games and is not expected to play at Buffalo. ... Rookie T Andreas Knappe (6-foot-8, 315) has been signed to the Colts practice squad. Knappe has spent time with Washington and Atlanta. ... WR K.J. Brent and C Anthony Fabiano have both been elevated to the active roster from the practice squad. ... RB Matt Jones was waived and G Kyle Kalis was waived-injured. Kalis was subsequently picked up on waivers by Washington.
REPORT CARD VS. JAGUARS
--PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- QB Jacoby Brissett struggled, completing 21 of 36 passes for 174 yards. He was intercepted twice and sacked four times. His passer rating was a dismal 56.9. WR T.Y. Hilton was limited to just three catches for 51 yards, with 40 of those yards coming on a touchdown. TE Jack Doyle had three catches for 16 yards. Donte Moncrief and Carlos Rogers topped the receiving corps with five and four receptions, respectively, for 37 and 35 yards.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus -- RB Frank Gore had a game-high 61 yards in 13 carries, including one breakout run of 15 yards. Rookie RB Marlon Mack added 46 yards in six attempts. He had a long run of 25 yards. Brissett helped the cause with 36 yards in six carries and had a 12-yard run. As a team, Indianapolis had 141 yards on the ground and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
--PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Colts played with some young cornerbacks as Rashaan Melvin sat out with a hand injury and Pierre Desir left early after injuring his shoulder. Rookies Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston and Kenny Moore all saw playing time. They had a problem slowing down the Jaguars' passing game as QB Blake Bortles completed 26 of 35 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Bortles, who was sacked once, had a 119.8 passer rating. WR Marqise Lee had seven catches for 86 yards and a TD. WR Dede Westbrook added six receptions for 78 yards. Rookie WR Keelan Cole had the other TD catch for Jacksonville.
--RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Indianapolis' run defense continues to show improvement over the last month. The Jaguars were limited to 96 total yards on the ground. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette had 57 yards on 20 carries. Bortles chipped in with 27 yards in three scramble situations. RB Chris Ivory only had 12 yards in four carries. ILBs Antonio Morrison and Jon Bostic each had six tackles for the Colts.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- K Adam Vinatieri made his only field-goal attempt of the game, hitting from 27 yards out in the second quarter. Rookie P Rigoberto Sanchez averaged 41.8 yards net on four punts and averaged 46.8 yards overall. He did not have a punt downed inside the Jaguars' 20-yard line but had a long punt of 56 yards. Sanchez added one touchback on three kickoffs. Indianapolis did allow a 31-yard kickoff return to Jacksonville returner Corey Grant. RB Josh Ferguson averaged 17.3 yards on three kickoff returns for the Colts.
--COACHING: D -- With Indianapolis now mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, what's left for head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff is to try to finish the year on a strong note. It all starts with this week's game at Buffalo. The Colts will return home for a Thursday night home game with Denver on Dec. 14 before traveling to Baltimore on Dec. 23. Indianapolis will close out the season with a New Year's Eve home game with Houston. What happens the day after the Texans game is anybody's guess. But things don't look good for Pagano and his staff.
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