Inexperienced Coach Jeff Saturday Not Ready in “Monday Night Football” Loss

The Colts have lost three of four and their playoff chances are almost nil

Colts coach Jeff Saturday looks on against the Steelers.
Colts coach Jeff Saturday lost track of time in a loss to the Steelers.
Michael Hickey/Getty

Hired approximately three weeks ago after the firing of longtime head coach Frank Reich by unpredictable Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay even though he had no prior coaching experience at the collegiate or pro level, former Colt Jeff Saturday temporarily silenced critics with a win in his first game on the sideline before losing his second coaching effort to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Entering a matchup against the Steelers on Monday Night Football with the Colts at 4-6-1 and still technically alive for a playoff spot, Saturday desperately needed to push his personal record to 2-1 as coach to keep Indianapolis in the mix for a postseason berth. Instead, the Colts fell behind Pittsburgh 16-3 and limped into the locker room in Indy trailing by 13 points.

Buoyed by Dallis Flowers returning the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards, the Colts were able to cut the deficit to 16-10 before seizing the lead on a 6-yard TD pass to Michael Pittman from Matt Ryan late in the third quarter to move ahead 17-16. Pittsburgh bounced back with a touchdown and 2-point conversion to take the lead 24-17 in the fourth, setting the stage for Ryan to lead the 46th fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

That’s when Saturday, who inexplicably ended the game with two timeouts in his pocket, lost track of time as his team was driving late and somehow let a minute run off the clock in a span of three plays in Pittsburgh territory before finally using Indy’s first timeout on fourth down with 30 seconds remaining.

With the chips clearly stacked against the Indy offense, Ryan threw incomplete to Parris Campbell on fourth-and-3 from the Steelers’ 26 and Indy fell to 1-2 under Saturday and 4-7-1 overall. Afterward, the 47-year-old attempted to explain his lack of urgency in keeping time on the clock for his team to have a chance to score.

“I didn’t really feel like time was of the essence and I thought we had a good play called,” Saturday said. “Felt like we had time and would have timeouts afterward but never felt the pressure of needing the timeout. We were in that mode the whole second half, so it wasn’t like a change for us. I thought we had plenty of time. We had plenty of timeouts, so I wasn’t too concerned. This wasn’t a press for time, we just didn’t make enough plays.”

The Colts didn’t make enough plays on Monday night because Saturday didn’t leave his players enough time to make them. As a result, the clock on Indianapolis making a playoff run with their new coach has almost certainly run out.

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