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3 things we learned about the Colts

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rex Ryan promised to build a bully in Buffalo when he was hired as head coach. In his debut game, he lived up to the bombast.

Ryan and quarterback Tyrod Taylor won their debut games in Buffalo on Sunday, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 27-14 in the rain at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Taylor, the former Baltimore Ravens backup, was 14 of 19 passing for 195 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. He also rushed for 41 yards.

Running backs Karlos Williams and Boobie Dixon each had rushing touchdowns for the Bills (1-0), and kicker Dan Carpenter made two field goals. Wide receiver Percy Harvin caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in his first game with the Bills.

Ryan’s blitzing defense harassed Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck into a poor first half that he and the Colts (0-1) could not recover from. Luck finished 26 of 49 passing for 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but much of his production came after the Bills had built a big lead. Luck’s first-half passer rating was 46.3.

“They forced us into those errors,” Luck said. “They are a good team and they made it hard for us to do things that we wanted to do. That’s a heck of a front four and they beat us pretty badly.”

Buffalo’s defense was dominant, even without All-Pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who sat out a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

“They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

What we learned about the Colts:

1. QB Andrew Luck can’t beat a good defense by himself. The Buffalo pass rush disrupted Luck early on, but he eventually found a way to move the Colts offense. But that involved essentially abandoning the run. At one point in the second half, Indianapolis called 19 straight passes. Starting running back Frank Gore could only manage 31 yards on eight carries. Rookie backups Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga combined for 13 yards on five carries. “We’ve got to be able to run the football and try to stay more balanced,” coach Chuck Pagano said. Luck was also let down by receivers on both of his interceptions. T.Y. Hilton failed to fight for the first one, and the second one ricocheted off Andre Johnson’s hands.

2. The special teams are still working out the kinks. The Colts started three straight drives inside their own 10 in the first half after returners Griff Whalen and Phillip Dorsett both made questionable decisions to fair catch punts deep in their own territory, then Donte Moncrief returned a kickoff out of his own end zone, only to get tackled at the 5. Adam Vinatieri missed a 52-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, and Dorsett muffed a punt with just under nine minutes to go that just about ended their comeback bid.

3. Pagano is facing questions about his job security. The coach is in the final year of his contract and owner Jim Irsay said they will not negotiate a new deal during the season. On Sunday, Irsay denied that the contract situation was becoming a distraction to the team. “It’s not anything that’s on our minds right now,” he said. “I don’t look at it like he’s coaching for his job. I don’t see the dynamic being different than anything else in the past.”

Etc.

–WR T.Y. Hilton went to the locker room after the third quarter and underwent an X-ray on his left knee. Irsay said the X-ray was negative and the injury is likely a “really bad bruise.” Said Hilton, “I’ll be alright. I’ll get in the training room, get an MRI, and see what’s up.”

–DE Henry Anderson, a rookie, was one of the few bright spots for the Colts. The third-round pick led the team with nine tackles, three of which were for a loss. The Colts managed to hold Bills starting RB LeSean McCoy to 41 yards on 17 rushes.

–WR Andre Johnson, a free agent acquisition, failed to make an impact for the Colts. Facing single coverage most of the afternoon, Johnson caught four of 10 passes thrown his way, for a mere 24 yards. A 2-point conversion passed slipped through his hands, as did Luck’s final throw of the game, which wound up being intercepted.


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