Colts’ Jeff Saturday explains 4th-down QB sneak call vs. Chargers: ‘Looking for some kind of spark’

The Colts’ play has alternated between putrid and catastrophic since Jeff Saturday signed on to become the team’s interim head coach.

On Monday, Indianapolis served up another subpar showing in a 20-3 loss, struggling to string together anything against a frantic Chargers defense.

Yet, despite three intereceptions and seven sacks, the Colts were still in the game early in the fourth quarter.

After Indianapolis’ defense jarred the ball from Justin Herbert’s hands for a turnover, the Colts found themselves in Chargers territory for the first time in a while. They got the ball to Los Angeles’ 12 before Michael Pittman was stopped short of the marker on third down.

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Saturday had two options: kick the chip shot field goal and cut the Bolts’ lead from 10 to seven. It would have been a conservative, but understandable, choice, especially given that Indianapolis’ defense had been solid. The other option: go for it.

Saturday wanted a touchdown to make it potentially a three-point game, so he kept the offense on the field. Needing less than a yard, the former ESPN analyst put the ball in his interim quarterback’s hands, calling for a sneak.

But Nick Foles got stuffed at the line. Even Saturday’s supposed wrinkle — putting Pittman in the backfield rather than, say, a fullback, tight end or offensive lineman capable to offering more of a push — came up short.

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Saturday and the Colts were promptly punished. LA, led by Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, laid siege to a tired defense, stringing together a 12-play, 88-yard drive capped by an Ekeler 1-yard rushing TD. The score essentially put the game on ice.

Saturday explained his move in the postgame press conference, telling reporters the ball was always going to Foles.

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“From the way we were practicing and the way Nick had been moving the football, you know you still had a chance, ” Saturday said. “We got down there on the fourth down, fourth and short, inside the red zone. . . . You’re looking for some kind of spark. Going to someone else wasn’t the answer right there.”

“I don’t have any reservations about that right now,” Saturday added.

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Nevertheless, Saturday’s decision invited plenty of criticism on social media, with many accusing Saturday of not having a solid understanding of situational football:

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