Colts are thawing out after another close loss

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Frank Gore watched as the referees huddled in the snow.

All Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano wanted was an explanation.

Now, there's no time to fret.

One day after a go-ahead two-point conversion was negated by an offensive pass interference call, thawed-out players and coaches returned to work and tried to turn the page on yet another befuddling loss.

"Really, really hard for me to get over there. I've seen some coaches try that of late and it didn't bode so well. And that's with no weather," Pagano said, again using humor to combat the mounting frustration. "It was a long ways away. I couldn't get anybody's attention."

For the Colts (3-10), it's been tough.

Andrew Luck hasn't played a snap since undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder.

On Monday, Pagano confirmed the star quarterback continues to rehab in Europe as team doctors stay in contact with Luck through emails and text messages.

Center Ryan Kelly, Indy's first-round pick in 2016, missed the first four games this season with a broken foot and the past two with a concussion. Safety Malik Hooker, this season's first-round pick, sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 7.

Only two defenses have allowed more yards than the Colts. Only one has allowed more points.

With those numbers, Indy has predictably blown six leads -- four in which it had double-digit leads in the second half.

But the latest blow really stung.

After Jacoby Brissett's successful conversion pass to Jack Doyle appeared to give the Colts an 8-7 lead with 1:16 left in regulation, Indy thought it finally succeeded in turning the corner.

Instead, a late flag was thrown, the play was negated and Adam Vinatieri had to make a 43-yard extra point in blizzard conditions just to tie the score. Then they lost 13-7 in overtime . The impact was still being felt 24 hours later.

"I'm still trying to thaw out a little bit," rookie running back and Florida native Marlon Mack said. "I'm still a little cold."

The biggest issue might be recovery time.

Pagano said the weather conditions probably took more out of his players than normal and that some had "dead legs," hardly an ideal situation for a team facing a Thursday night home game against Denver (4-9). Even Gore, who had a career-high 36 carries, acknowledged he'd play it safe this week.

"I'll try to give my legs some rest this week," the 34-year-old running back said. "I'll get some massages at the hotel or whatever I need."

Of course, the best remedy for all of this would be a win.


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Still, it would only provide solace in an already-lost season.

The four-game losing streak is the longest in Pagano's six-year tenure with the Colts.

Indy has been eliminated from playoff contention and the three-year postseason drought is the franchise's longest since a seven-year run from 1988-94.

Logically, the focus turns to Pagano's future in Indianapolis for the third straight year.

"You know what you got into. It's all I've known forever," he said. "The shelf life for these jobs is not long. You know what I mean?"

When asked about being one of the league's longest-tenured coaches, Pagano quipped: "I'm the grandfather of the (AFC) South."

But if the Colts can finish strong, it would at least help them cope with the looming long, busy offseason.

"No, we're not making the playoffs, but there are still games to be played and plays to be made," rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson said. "And that's what we're going out there to do."

NOTES:Kelly and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (hand) both practiced Monday. Kelly hasn't been cleared to play yet. Melvin worked with a club cast on his injured hand. … Receiver Donte Moncrief is listed week to week with an injured ankle.