Colts look to share blame with Kerry Collins

HOUSTON -- The Colts don’t like the perception that they are a one-man team on good days with Peyton Manning. They don’t like the perception that they are a one-man team on a bad day with Kerry Collins.

In his debut with Indianapolis, Collins connected on 16 of 31 passes for 197 yards, with three sacks, two lost fumbles and a touchdown throw in a 34-7 loss.

“It’s hard to really say if Peyton [Manning] was out there and was completely healthy what level we would have played at,” Owner Jim Irsay said. “Obviously it would have made a difference. With Kerry, he’s a guy where you hope he can get better and that we can get better and sturdy up some things. It’s not a cliché, you always look worse than it really is and you’ve never as good as you think it is.”

While Irsay said Collins is the Colts' guy right now, he passed on a chance to declare that Collins is the quarterback the team intends to ride unless or until Manning is in position to return. Even so, I do not expect they will be shopping for a new veteran after one game.

Collins held the ball too long and he got called for an intentional grounding when a throw-away on the move didn’t reach the line of scrimmage. He was too often harassed by a defensive front that was eager to show off in its first meaningful game under coordinator Wade Phillips.

In the first quarter he fumbled while being sacked and dropped a snap, giving Houston two red-zone possessions that turned into touchdowns. He also he dislocated the pointer finger on his left, nonthrowing hand, and had it popped back in during the game.

"I know that [center-to-quarterback] exchange was my fault,” he said. “I need to ride in there a little bit better with Jeff [Saturday]. They are good up front with getting pressure on the quarterback and I have to take better care of the ball."

On the rare snaps when he had a nice pocket and time, he did deliver some throws.

But he wasn’t worthy of a Reggie Wayne review that “he did well” because he hung in there and took control of things.

“We didn’t get into any flow,” tight end Jacob Tamme said. “The moments that we did you could tell that we could move the ball.”

The Colts are likely to emphasize the play-calling and huddle success as they look for silver linings. They should also highlight the need for protection during the week as they prepare to host the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s not just 18 not being here,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “It’s a lot of things… As a quarterback, from a fan perspective, he probably will take a lot of criticism.

"In the locker room as his teammates, we understand the situation. Kerry’s been here two weeks. We’re not making any excuses or anything like that. Nobody is going to sit here and finger-point.”