The Indianapolis Colts pulled to within two points Sunday night in Dallas entering the fourth quarter. Then the floodgates opened, and the Cowboys piled up points and forced turnovers, sprinting to a 54-19 victory.
Indy turned the ball over on four straight possessions in the final quarter. It started with a Mo Alie-Cox fumble returned for a TD by former Colts safety Malik Hooker. Then quarterback Matt Ryan threw his second and third interceptions of the night and topped this disaster sundae with a fumble.
The turnover issues have plagued Indy all season, but Sunday's epic deluge in prime time was another level of bad. For the season, the Colts have 26 turnovers, an NFL high.
"If you have 30 turnovers in a season, it's just so costly," receiver Parris Campbell said after the game, via the Associated Press. "Obviously, the record speaks for itself. That was just unacceptable."
If you went to bed at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday night, you might have expected to wake up to a tight box score. Instead, the turnovers led to a laugher, as the Cowboys scored 33 points in the fourth quarter. Dallas became the third team in NFL history to score that many points in the fourth quarter of a game (2007 Lions -- Week 4 vs. Chicago; 1925 Cardinals -- Week 13 vs. Milwaukee Badgers).
Ryan continued his season-long struggle with turnovers. The Indy QB has 18 giveaways and 13 INTs this season, both most in the NFL.
Despite the QB's struggles, interim head coach Jeff Saturday insisted he never considered benching Ryan.
"From a quarterback perspective, you dig yourself a hole, you've got to get out," Saturday said. "He knows he didn't play good. It didn't take us to tell him. But no, you don't yank him. You work your way out no different than any other player. You find a way to fix it and get better."
"It's five minutes after a beating," Saturday said. "I'm disappointed, they're disappointed, no decision I'm going to make right now is going to be a good decision. We've got weeks to go about this. A four-game season. We need to get better. As a team we need to get better in a lot of different areas."
Indy entered the year with postseason aspirations, but Sunday's blowout loss ensured a .500 or worse record.
"We've got four games left," Campbell said. "Are we going to lay down for every single opponent, or are you going to respond? What are we made of? How can we respond?"
How they respond will have significant repercussions for many in Indy this offseason, from general manager Chris Ballard to Saturday to Ryan and on down the line.