By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)
After losing a tightly contested Sunday Night Football game to the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts find themselves searching for excuses in a loss filled with uncharacteristic legitimacy, sources close to the situation said.
The Patriots were not their usual controversial selves, getting zero debatable calls to go their way and exploiting no holes in the rulebook, en route to a strangely competitive 34-27 victory.
In a game that contained no overt rule-breaking, fluky Patriots plays, significant injuries, or questionable penalty calls, dejected Colts fans are calling for excuses from the team's embattled front office and coaching staff.
Longtime Colts fan Carl Lightman was left dumbfounded as to how to discredit the play of Tom Brady or the coaching of Bill Belichick.
"How do you look the Competition Committee in the face after this?" said Lightman, 53. "No calls to the league office, no game-deciding penalties, no injuries. How do you begin to excuse away a performance like that? It's frustrating to watch as a fan."
A baffled Chuck Pagano took the podium, seemingly at a loss for how to explain the Patriots' legitimate victory on a level playing field.
"There's no answer for playing that way," Pagano told reporters after the game. "I wish I had all the excuses for you, but it's not that simple. We need better controversy generation, we need to write better emails to the league...We need to excuse ourselves better in all phases of the game."
The leading candidate for the team's excuse is a failed surprise onside kick attempt, which appeared to have gone in the Colts favor. The referees ruled that the Patriots recovered the ball, and had no conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field. But Pagano declined to challenge the call, leaving the team without its only viable explanation for the loss.
Colts receiver Griff Whalen, who botched an attempted fake punt late in the third quarter to give the Patriots strong field position, took responsibility for the discipline of New England's special teams unit in not jumping off-sides, promising better "excusicution" in the future.
"This locker room needs more accountability," Whalen said. "At some point you need to man up and make excuses for your own actions. I take full responsibility for figuring out who to blame."
Sources added that Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Ryan Grigson are hard at work scrutinizing Jamie Collins' leap over the offensive line to block an extra point late in the fourth quarter, seeking any necessary rule changes to accommodate the Colts' kicking unit in future contests.
Irsay remains confident that the Colts will find the excuses necessary to turn their season around.
"Surely the league will find a way to absolve us of any responsibility for this loss," Irsay said.
On the Patriots and owner Robert Kraft, Irsay added: "Remember, we're dealing with an organization that hasn't won a Super Bowl without a cloud of having the best coach and quarterback in the league hanging over it. They have an owner who can't stay out of trouble on and off the field, yet gets away with it all because he has a lot of money. It's wrong."
Grigson reportedly arrived at the Colts practice facility at 4:30AM Monday morning to get extra email work in, before the front office holds an emergency meeting to discuss potential scapegoats and fall guys for the next Colts loss.
"I have enough on my plate squandering the first half of Andrew Luck's career," Grigson said. "Now we have to put extra time, yet again, into finding excuses for losing to Tom Brady. This team needs to understand that excuses won't always fall in your lap - you need to create your own."
Full disclosure: This article is satire. Think 'The Onion'. Any fans mentioned are fictitious and no quotes were actually said...we think.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com and purveyor of bone-dry sarcasm and thick-as-molasses irony. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Read more from Matt here. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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