“We shot ourselves in the foot”

The Indianapolis Colts’ decision to bench Matt Ryan in favor of sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger provided half a spark. Yet the same problems plagued Frank Reich’s club in Sunday’s 17-16 home loss to the Washington Commanders.

“I think he threw the ball well, looked calm, made good decisions, gave us a chance,” Reich said of Ehlinger after the match. match. “We’re going to take a closer look at the film, but my first impression was that he played well.”

Ehlinger made some splatter plays, completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards for a passer rating of 100.1, showed good pocket awareness and helped open up creativity on offense. But the rookie fumbled in the red zone as the Colts marched in the second quarter.

Jonathan Taylor also fumbled with Indy in the scoring range in a close contest.

As it has done for much of the season, the Colts’ struggling offensive line opened up a few holes in the running game. And Indianapolis again struggled in the red zone, going 1 of 3 and failing to hit it from the half-yard line.

“I thought as an attack we had a lot of opportunities. We shot ourselves in the foot,” Ehlinger said. “Two turnovers, went down to the thumbs line and came away with three points and that’s not good enough in this league. It’s frustrating but we showed we can be an explosive attack, we had some explosive games and we have to keep building from here.”

Behind a subdued offensive line, Ehlinger’s mobility was the difference on Sunday, dodging sacks while walking through mud. But several takes also wiped out some good QB scrambles from the greenhorn signal caller.

The defense continued to play solid for much of the game before falling apart late and allowing the Commanders to escape with the win following a big play from Indianapolis native Terry McLaurin.

Ehlinger generated some big plays that were mostly missing on offense for the Colts, hitting rookie Alec Pierce for 47 yards, Parris Campbell for 38 and Nyheim Hines for 22. But this is a club that lives on a knife edge. and who again became paralyzed with the errors.

With the loss, the Colts’ QBs who made their first career NFL start fell to 1-16 since the 1970 merger – the only winner was rookie third-round pick Chris Chandler in Week 4 of 1988 .

Now it’s up to Reich to get the best out of Ehlinger for the Colts 3-4-1.

“I thought to be out there against a good defense, they brought a lot of different things. They threw mixed coverage in there,” Ehlinger said. “Being able to participate in this first experience of the regular season was important. Obviously I hate the result and I need to grow.”

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