“We just shot ourselves in the foot”

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

“I thought he threw the ball well, I thought he looked ready, made good decisions, gave us a chance,” Reich said of Ehlinger after the game. “We’ll look at the film more closely, but my first impression was that it played well.”

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

Jonathan Taylor also battled with Eadie on the scoresheet in a tight contest.

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

“I thought as an offense, we had a lot of opportunities. We just shot ourselves in the foot,” Ehlinger said. “Two turnovers, we got to the inch line and I came out with three points and that’s not good enough in this league. It’s disappointing, but we showed we could be an explosive offense, we had explosive plays and you have to keep building from here.”

Behind an offensive line of scrimmages, Ehlinger’s mobility made the difference Sunday, avoiding sacks by running through the muck. But the multiple holds also wiped out some good QB judgments from the greenhorn signal caller.

The defense continued to play solidly for much of the contest before slowly breaking down and allowing the Commanders to escape with the win after a big game from Indianapolis native Terry McLaurin.

Ehlinger made some big plays that the Colts’ offense had mostly been missing, hitting rookie Alec Pierce for 47 yards, Parris Campbell for 38 and Nyheim Hines for 22. But he’s a bat that lives on a razor’s edge and again with his feet. Errors.

With the loss, Colts QBs making their first career NFL starts fell to 1-16 since the 1970 merger — the only winner being third-round rookie Chris Chandler in Week 4, 1988.

Now it’s up to Reich to get more out of Ehlinger moving forward 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 some mixed coverages there,” Ehlinger said. “Being able to get that first regular season experience was important. Obviously, you hate the result and you have to grow.”

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