Matt Ryan has been here before. In the 2017 Super Bowl, Ryan, then quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was on the wrong side of Super Bowl history when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots engineered a 28-3 comeback to win 34-28.
In Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings, now with the Indianapolis Colts, Ryan was again on the wrong side of history when the Vikings completed the largest comeback in regular season history, roaring back for a 39-36 win in overtime after being down 33-0 at the half.
In his December 17 postgame press conference, Ryan set the stage with a theme that was echoed by coaches and players alike. A tale of two halves. Ryan spoke on the lack of finish on scoring opportunities, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, which the Colts did five times in the loss. The Colts offense had to rely on Ryan and the passing game with an early injury to star running back Jonathan Taylor. Ryan finished the game with just 1 touchdown, was sacked 3 times and had less than 60% completion percentage.
“Ultimately we didn’t make enough plays,” Ryan said to the media in his postgame comments. “When you have chances to put people away, we’ve gotta do a better job than we’ve done up to this point,’’ Ryan said. “From an offensive perspective, when you get your chances to score touchdowns, we’ve gotta come away with touchdowns.’’
More Colts Player Reactions
All-Pro offensive guard Quentin Nelson did not mince words after the loss. “It’s bad,” Nelson said. “I mean, we all need to be a lot better.”
On defense, the Colts had a masterful first half. The Colts held the Vikings to just three first downs in the first, shutting out the Vikings and accounting for two turnovers and two touchdowns.
Linebacker and defensive captain Zaire Franklin, spoke to the media after the defensive collapse.
“You give it literally everything you have, you’ve been through a whole lot of adversity,” Franklin said. “We’ve been hearing everybody talk about us like we’re a punch line and we took that very personal… For the game to go the way it did at the end, it’s definitely a tough, tough pill to swallow.”
“That’s been the situation all year,” defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said in his postgame comments. “A tale of two halves, damn near all year.” Buckner went on to express his frustrations at the lack of finishing, echoing the sentiments of his teammates.
Safety Julian Blackmon, who had a pick-six in the first half, gave his thoughts on the two half performances in his postgame media availability.
“It was one half of reminding everyone who are, and another of being lackadaisical and going through the motions instead of keeping on gas on the pedal.”
Colts Head Coach Jeff Saturday Reacts
After the game, interim head coach Jeff Saturday was somber but did not pull his punches.
“It’s embarrassing,” Saturday said after expressing his initial disappointment at the loss. “Losing stings, it doesn’t matter.” Saturday went on to claim that he was not surprised by the outcome, as he had been a part of a lot of “crazy football games.”
Saturday warned his players at halftime to not “overlook” this team or their “explosive offense,” but in the end, the Colts were unable to maintain their lead.
“Obviously a tale of two halves, right?’’ Saturday told reporters. “Started fast, had the lead, and ultimately give up too many explosive plays.”
That’s something the rest of the team can agree on.