INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Nothing has gone right for the Indianapolis Colts this season.
They lost Peyton Manning for at least two months with a neck injury. They're 0-2 for the first time since 1998. In eight quarters, they've scored only two touchdowns. And now, some panicked fans are even calling for a quarterback change.
Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne is sounding the alarm, too. He says the Colts must get things fixed and fast because Indianapolis is running out of time.
"We're just not getting the job done," Wayne said. "We've got to figure out what we've got to do. That's what the films are for — to look at the films and correct the mistakes. Hopefully, we can figure it out sooner than later. I believe we're close."
Players and coaches insist the problems are all "correctable."
Without Manning, the offense led by Kerry Collins has sputtered. The defense has been outmanned, the coverage units have been dreadful and Pittsburgh (1-1) is visiting next Sunday.
"There's a lot of good things that happened," Collins said of Sunday's performance, noting the running game successes in particular. "I always go back to the old adage, ‘You're never as bad as you think you are when you lose, and you're never as good as you think you are when you win.' As long as we take that attitude and keep trying to go in the right direction, it gives us a chance.
"We definitely did some things better, but there are areas we need to improve on, most notably red zone and third-down. Those are two things we need to get better at."
Starting off 0-2 isn't necessarily an indication of a doomed season in the NFL.
Comebacks from slow starts aren't unusual in pro football. While no team lost its first two and made the postseason in 2009 or 2010, back in 2007, the Giants began their season 0-2. All they did was win the Super Bowl.
But a Colts comeback with key players Peyton Manning and Gary Brackett injured are a tall order.
"Our record is not pretty right now, obviously. But it's not the end, either," coach Jim Caldwell said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and we've just got to keep pounding at it."
There's no time to waste.
Next Sunday night, they face defending AFC champion Pittsburgh. Then comes a trip to Tampa Bay, a team that nearly made the playoffs. After that, they play AFC West champ Kansas City at home, a team struggling just as badly as the Colts; before a three-game road trip that takes them to Cincinnati, New Orleans and Tennessee.
By then, the playoffs, really could be out of reach.
"We don't have much time left," Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne said after Sunday's 27-19 loss to Cleveland. "We've got to figure it out fast, even though it's just the second game. We have to figure out a way to win the close ones. I feel like that's what it's going to be from here on out."
Collins is aware the 0-2 start to the season has put some observers on edge.
"I tend not to have knee-jerk reactions. I tend to try and guard against that," he said. "I think a lot of guys in this room have been in and around it long enough to know that, whether you're 2-0 or 0-2, it has nothing to do with what happens the next game. We take the mentality (that) we'll keep getting better. That's the best chance we have."
Manning, the Colts' franchise quarterback, is out indefinitely after neck surgery, and Collins did nothing during Indianapolis' home opener to make the locals feel better about it. Collins had two fourth-quarter turnovers and struggled for large stretches during a 27-19 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
"We put together some drives, we just didn't finish," Collins said. "Obviously, there are some things we didn't do in the second half that didn't allow us to put ourselves in a position to win the game."
Expectations for the Colts dropped sharply when the severity of Manning's situation became clear. But blue-clad fans, many wearing Manning's No. 18, packed Lucas Oil Stadium hoping the previous week's 34-7 loss at Houston was simply the result of first-game jitters.
It wasn't. A fan base that has learned over the years to stay tuned because no deficit has seemed too large for Manning to overcome headed for the exits early.
"Traffic gets hectic out there, so I'm just going to say they were going to beat the traffic," Wayne said. "It's nothing personal. It happens. When fans feel like the game's over, they try to beat rush hour. That's the way it goes, I guess."
It's Indy's first 0-2 start since 1998, Manning's rookie year, and the 26 points in the first two games is the team's lowest total since that year.
Manning showed up at Colts practice Monday - though not to participate - was in good spirits.
"Save a copy for me for my scrapbook," Manning said to the television cameramen who were taping his arrival.
He's expected to miss at least two months as he recovers from his latest neck surgery.
To fans, though, the lackluster performance of the Colts thus far this season is almost unthinkable.
After seeing Indianapolis win an NFL record 115 regular-season games during the last
decade, string together nine straight double-digit win seasons and make the playoffs a record-tying nine straight seasons, well, many were hoping the Colts could host the Super Bowl in their own stadium.
But star defensive end Dwight Freeney hasn't given up.
"There's 16 rounds and we lost two of them," he said. "We just have to get it together and get some things together."
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