Mike McCormack, Baltimore's embattled coach, indicated he might be facing a new problem after yesterday's loss to the Redskins: players loafing during games.
"I'm going to have to look long and hard at the films to see if certain individuals quit," he said. "We got an awful lot of people working too darn hard for some others to let them down.
"But I don't think the team (overall) quit."
McCormack refused to name any specific players. But after 14 straight losses in a season he thought would see the Colts in the playoffs, he wore the look of a man whose world was falling apart, but who was helpless to change the situation.
The Colts close out the season Sunday in Baltimore against New England, whom they beat on the road in the season opener. But they've already set a number of negative league records, something that even a last-game win won't wipe out.
Although the Redskins played their offensive starters until late in the game, McCormack didn't include Washington Coach Joe Gibbs in his postgame criticism.
"The name of this game is to score points," said McCormack, whose team has surrendered a league-record 512 this season. "I understand they still have a mathematical chance to get into the playoffs, and one of the conditions is points scored for and against.
"If I had been in the same position, I'd have done the same thing."
McCormack patiently answered familiar questions about his team's plight. The story has been the same, only the names sometimes change from week to week. In this one, the Colts who struggled the most were defensive backs Reggie Pinkney and Derrick Hatchett, who were unable to cope with long passes by the Redskins.
"Reggie was out of position most of the game," McCormack said. "As far as Derrick goes, I'll have to see exactly what happened to him. He played well last year against quality receivers. But he is obviously struggling now."
Another defensive back, Larry Braziel, figured in the Colts' most important play of the game. He dropped a potential interception late in the first half without a Redskin player near him. Washington scored two plays later to take a 28-7 lead.
"He (Art Monk) was running the pattern exactly the way I thought he would," Braziel said. "I had the ball right in my hands. But I had gloves on and I couldn't hold on to it."
Said defensive end Mike Ozdowski: "That was the play that killed us. We get an interception and a touchdown on it, and we're right in the game (21-14)."
Unlike some games this season, owner Robert Irsay didn't lecture his players afterward in the locker room. Irsay roamed the sideline near the Colt bench most of the afternoon, but McCormack said the owner didn't offer any advice.
Finally, McCormack was asked if he didn't regret trading Joe Washington -- who wanted to leave Baltimore because of a contract problem -- to the Redskins last April for a No. 2 draft choice. Washington gained 134 yards rushing and receiving yesterday, while his replacement for Baltimore, Curtis Dickey, gained 56 yards.
"That's academic now," McCormick said. "I've said all along that I wanted Joe on our football team. It wasn't for a lack of effort that we didn't keep him, either."