Playoff streak at risk for Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS --- The Colts still control their own playoff destiny. Barely.

Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in the past three weeks. Four of them were returned for touchdowns, and the Colts lost each game.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in the past three weeks. Four of them were returned for touchdowns, and the Colts lost each game.

How much longer they will be in control depends on how fast they can get things fixed.

With Peyton Manning mired in the worst slump of his pro career and the Colts reeling from a rare three-game losing streak, Indy's regular playoff booking is now in jeopardy. Even the usually optimistic Jim Caldwell admits time is running out.

"At some point in time, the opportunities diminish, and so we have to take advantage of it," the Colts coach said Monday.

For Indianapolis (6-6), there is no time to waste.

Indy has already seen its league-record streak of seven consecutive 12-win seasons end, and one more loss would snap the league's longest active streak of 10-win seasons and playoff appearances at eight in a row. A loss Thursday night at Tennessee would hand the Colts their fourth four-game losing streak of the Manning era -- and two of them came when he was a rookie.

Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in the past three weeks, a career-high over that span. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes in that stretch, too -- eight to teammates, four to defensive players.

"He is the most frustrated guy in America right now," former Colts coach Tony Dungy said after Sunday's loss to Dallas. "He is not used to making mistakes that cost his team games."

Manning's woes are only part of the problem.

Over the past five weeks, the Colts have averaged 54.6 yards rushing and 3.0 yards a carry. On Sunday, Caldwell changed starting right guards again and alternated between Kyle DeVan and Jamey Richard at left guard.

Indy's defense hasn't helped, forcing no turnovers during the losing streak, and the injury situation isn't getting better.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers sustained what Caldwell described as a "significant" arm injury, running back Joseph Addai has missed six games in a row with a nerve injury in his left shoulder, and receiver Austin Collie has played three quarters in the past six games, most recently because of a concussion.

There's no guarantee any of those three will play against the Titans.


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