The Indianapolis Colts got what they deserved in a 19-9 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.
For just the third time in 23 career starts, Andrew Luck was kept out of the end zone. If he was the type to assign blame, he could start with the five Colts who dropped easily catchable passes at crucial points in the game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey mistimed a potential long touchdown, Reggie Wayne couldn't reel in a key third-down pass and Coby Fleener's slippery mitts made an appearance in a similar situation -- followed by a T.Y. Hilton muff on the next play.
When Trent Richardson lost a screen pass to sabotage a late fourth-quarter drive, overly conservative coach Chuck Pagano opted to punt back to the Chargers down seven points with fewer than two yards to go for a first down.
Needless to say, the Colts' chances of picking up the first down were greater than their odds of stopping the Chargers and keeping enough time on the clock to go the length of the field for a touchdown.
For all of those physical and mental errors, though, it is offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's insistence on clinging to a dysfunctional, old-school power running attack that is preventing Luck from reaching his potential.
There's a method to Hamilton's madness. He wants to create high-percentage passing opportunities against boxes loaded up to stop the run.
This is not an offense that abides game-changing mistakes.
It works best when blockers blow their men off the ball, allowing the power back to sustain drives, move the chains and punish tacklers. It doesn't work when the offensive line lacks the talent to open holes for an indecisive back.
The Colts' personnel falls into the latter category, which has the effect of playing keep-away from the best young no-huddle passer in NFL history.
It's time for Hamilton to go back to the drawing board, devising a fresh plan to put the offense in Luck's capable hands.