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Pagano bested by former assistant Arians; Colts blown out 40-11 by Cardinals

  • 3db5b703b5eb1027440f6a7067004847.jpg

    Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, right, and Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano embrace after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (The Associated Press)

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    Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck dejectedly paces the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (The Associated Press)

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    Indianapolis Colts' Josh Gordy (27) and Cassius Vaughn (32) sit on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (The Associated Press)

The Indianapolis Colts had 10 days off before facing the Arizona Cardinals.

It didn't seem to do much good.

Struggling on both sides of the ball, the Colts put together a lackluster effort in the desert, leading to a 40-11 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.

"We're just not executing," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "We don't tackle and we don't make plays down the field. They made them, we didn't. When you don't execute and your opponents execute at that type of level, this is what happens."

Indianapolis struggled in its previous game against an NFC West team, losing 38-8 to St. Louis on Nov. 10, and looked just as bad against Arizona (7-4).

Unable to stop Arizona or keep the Cardinals off quarterback Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (7-4) trailed by 24 at halftime and had no chance of pulling off another comeback.

Arizona rolled over the Colts' defense, running for 120 yards after gaining 13 last week against Jacksonville, while Carson Palmer threw for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals had scored 27 points in each of their three previous wins and had that by halftime against the Colts.

Indianapolis' offense struggled all day, gaining most of its 239 yards after the game was out of hand.

Under pressure all day, Luck completed 20 of 39 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, with an interception that was returned for a touchdown during Arizona's early onslaught.

"It stinks. It is frustrating, but the onus is on us to get it fixed," Luck said. "It is on the players to do our job and to do my job much better if we are going to have a chance to win consistently."

The story line heading into the game was the relationship between Pagano and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

Pagano had to step away from the game after he was diagnosed with leukemia and Arians took over as interim coach. The Colts went 9-3 the rest of the way to make the playoffs and Arians was the coach of the year.

That helped the 60-year-old Arians get his first head coaching job, in Arizona, and set up the first time in NFL history the reigning coach of the year faced his old team the next season.

"The emotions of this game were gone way before kickoff," Arians said. "I saw a lot of friends, a lot of dear guys on that team. But that was part over. Once the whistle blows, it's just you and your brother in the backyard."

This sibling rivalry was lopsided from the start.

The Cardinals had no trouble picking apart Indianapolis' defense, going 80 yards in 10 plays — without facing a third down — on their opening drive for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Fitzgerald.

Arizona moved quickly on its second drive, though that ended with Sergio Brown blocking Jay Feely's 28-yard field goal.

The Cardinals' third drive was another effort in efficiency: 80 yards in five plays, capped by Palmer's perfectly thrown pass as he was being hit into the corner of the end zone, where Fitzgerald made an equally impressive catch over his shoulder for a 26-touchdown.

On offense, the Colts had a hard time protecting Luck, who had to make numerous escapes to avoid sacks.

One attempt backfired.

Draped by Arizona defensive end Darnell Dockett, Luck tried to throw as he was going down, but didn't get much on it. Arizona's Karlos Dansby easily stepped in front of the receiver for interception and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown that put the Cardinals up 24-3.

Feely added a 50-yard field goal to give Arizona a 24-point halftime lead.

Indianapolis had 58 total yards in the half, gave up 274 and has been outscored 93-12 in the first half of its past four games.

"There is blood in the water right now," Pagano said. "Until you get it fixed, they are going to keep coming at us."

The Colts have been a second-half team this season, but this was a big hill to climb: Their biggest second-half comeback in franchise history was from 21 points.

They stood no chance against the Cardinals.

Indianapolis failed on a fourth-and-6 at the Arizona 36 on its opening drive and the Cardinals marched in on another scoring drive, capped by Rashard Mendenhall's 5-yard run — one play after Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was called for pass interference against Fitzgerald on third-and-10.

The Colts found the end zone in the fourth quarter, when Luck threw under pressure and hit Coby Fleener on a 17-yard touchdown pass. All that and the 2-point conversion did was cut Arizona's lead to 34-11.

Notes: Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving, doing it in 30 years, 85 days. Randy Moss was 30 years, 222 days when he did it. ... The Colts had 96 total yards through three quarters. ... Arizona had its highest-scoring game in three years. ... Davis went out with a groin injury in the second half and didn't return.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org