By STEVE HERMAN
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Dungy knows exactly what's wrong with the Indianapolis Colts this season.
Costly penalties, dropped passes, defensive breakdowns, virtually no running game, a still-struggling Peyton Manning and assorted injuries to other key players have produced the team's worst start in a decade.
At 3-4 heading into the final game of the first half of the season against New England on Sunday night, the Colts bear little resemblance to the team that won the Super Bowl less than two years ago.
"We played with energy and emotion, played very hard ... but when the game got to the point you had to win it, we didn't play well enough," Dungy said Tuesday, some 13 hours after a 31-21 loss at unbeaten Tennessee made a sixth straight AFC South title for Indianapolis a difficult if not impossible challenge.
"We didn't really stop them in the second half defensively, and we didn't convert offensively. They outplayed us down the stretch where it was crunch time, and that was disappointing," the Colts coach said. "So we'll have to go back and go to work just fundamentally playing well and making those things happen in crucial situations."
Indianapolis is tied with Jacksonville and Houston, four games behind the Titans and most likely playing for a wild-card spot in the playoffs.
Dungy said injured starters Joseph Addai, Bob Sanders and Kelvin Hayden all might return for Sunday night's game against the Patriots, who are 5-2 and tied with Buffalo atop the AFC East.
But he isn't using injuries as an excuse, not even the preseason knee operations that kept Manning out of training camp.
Through seven games, Manning's quarterback rating is 79.0 and his completion percentage is 61.1, both the worst since the Colts went 3-13 in his rookie season in 1998. He's already thrown nine interceptions, equaling the total he threw during the Super Bowl season, and his timing with his receivers still seems a bit off.
"I don't know if it's that, but certainly our numbers are down and we haven't been as sharp." Dungy said. "We've had some situations where we normally get big completions that we haven't gotten. Again, that's something we've got to get better at, but I don't know the reason, really.
"It's a lot of the same guys in the same situations, and we've just continued to have a lot of penalties, untimely penalties, a lot of situations where it's just doing things a little bit sharper is going to make the difference, offensively and defensively," he said. "The only thing I know is we've got to continue to practice and work and see if we can get those cleared up, see if we can execute when the game's on the line."
After returning late from Monday night's game at Tennessee, the players had Tuesday off and will return to practice as usual on Wednesday. They'll work without pads this week, Dungy said.
"You change the mood by winning. In order to do that, you have to avoid beating yourself and be able to play sharp," he said. "This will be a tough day for our team today, but tomorrow at 9 o'clock when they come in they'll be ready."