Colts Survive Ravens With Defense
Despite allowing 354 yards of total offense -- 135 to burgeoning star Ray Rice -- the Colts defense buckled down when in their own territory, forcing the Ravens to attempt six field goals and punt twice in their first eight possessions. The Ravens still had a chance to win the football game late, but Joe Flacco was intercepted by Gary Brackett with just over two minutes left at the Indianapolis 13.
"We are definitely a bend-but-not-break defense,'' Brackett said, according to the Associated Press. "They drove a couple of times on us, but we held them to field goals.''
The Ravens did almost have a last gasp for victory, as Ed Reed received a punt with just under 30 seconds left -- and a decent return would have pulled them within about 30 yards of (game-winning) field goal range. Instead, Reed desperately attempted to lateral to a teammate almost simultaneously as he was taken down. The ill-advised pitch went directly to Freddy Keiaho of the Colts. Replays showed the pitch happened at almost the exact same time Reed's knee hit the ground, thus, there wasn't conclusive visual evidence to overturn the call on the field (a fumble).
Manning took a knee on the next play, and the Colts extended their league-high win streak to 19 regular-season games. They joined the Saints at 10-0 with the best record in the NFL.
"To be able to come out of this game with a win is huge,'' Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said. "We're not going to ever sneeze at being 10-0, but we're doing it by a small margin these days.''
The final score suggests a slug-fest where neither team could move the football, but -- with over 700 yards in combined total offense -- that wasn't the case at all. Instead, each team repeatedly allowed lots of yardage before slamming the brakes on the opposing offense, either with a big stop or a takeaway. Manning passed for 299 yards, but threw two interceptions and just one touchdown. Tight end Tom Santi (who entered the game with no catches this season, but caught six balls for 80 yards Sunday) fumbled close to the Ravens' 1-yard line. Flacco, meanwhile, threw the aforementioned pick, and many other drives stalled. Both teams were basically playing bend-but-don't-break defense. There were two offensive touchdowns -- both by the Colts -- and that was the difference.
In addition to Rice, the big offensive star for the Ravens was the venerable Derrick Mason, who hauled in nine passes for 142 yards. On defense, Reed had a huge interception early, and played a part in the hit on Santi's fumble. Unfortunately, his attempted lateral ultimately finished his team.
Also of note is that Billy Cundiff, whom was brought in to replace Steven Hauschka as the Ravens' kicker, made five field goals but missed a 39-yarder that could have made the difference.
For the Colts, Pierre Garcon had six catches for 108 yards. Dallas Clark had a sparkling one-handed touchdown catch early in the game and Joseph Addai shook Ray Lewis for a second-quarter touchdown. Addai ended with 74 yards on 19 carries.
The Colts will look to continue their unbeaten streak -- and possibly clinch the AFC South -- next week in Houston.
Baltimore faces another tough test against the Steelers at home in Week 12.