What We Learned: Colts at Ravens

Greg Talmage shares what we learned from watching the Indianapolis Colts pound the Baltimore Ravens, 44-20, Sunday.

1. The Colts are in sight of the AFC's second seed:

If the Colts win next week in Oakland and Pittsburgh loses at home to a very good Jacksonville team, Indianapolis clinches the No. 2 seed. If that happens the talk becomes what will Tony Dungy do in the final two weeks — rest his starters or play them? Historically, Dungy seems to side on rest, but three weeks off (the final two weeks and the bye) is a long time.

No byes have been clinched yet, so there's no need to put the cart before the horse. But a lot of Colts fans fear the rust factor and potential repeat of the 2006 AFC Divisional Game against Pittsburgh if Dungy opts for the three-week rest plan.

2. Starting two backup corners against Peyton Manning is a very dangerous proposition:

With both starting corners — Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle — inactive, Baltimore had their work cut out for them Sunday.

Peyton carved up the backup defensive backs for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns on 13 of 17 passing. My brother said, "it's like Peyton is fishing with dynamite tonight," and he was right — CBs Corey Ivy and David Pittman never had a chance.

Everything in the passing game just seemed to come easy, especially the deep ball to Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzalez pulled down two long TD catches of 57 and 40 yards.

While the Colts' pass protection wasn't flawless, it was improved, and the unit did a very nice job handling the Baltimore blitzes. Peyton also did a very nice job stepping up in the pocket to avoid the rush and make his throws. No. 18 showed good footwork all night.

3. The Colts are getting good pressure from the defensive tackle position:


Dan Klecko sacks Kyle Boller
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

The Colts' rookie defensive tackle rotation of Ed Johnson, Keyunta Dawson, and Quinn Pitcock did a very nice job of collapsing the pocket up the middle, getting pressure and hurries on QB Kyle Boller. Pitcock finished with two sacks and backup DT Dan Klecko even added one.

Besides the sacks, the whole combination did a solid job all night getting pressure and hurrying the Ravens' quarterback.

The Colts have had some problems finding a consistent pass-rush since Dwight Freeney went down, so if the DTs can play like this every week it'll be a huge lift. The Ravens opted tonight to double-team DE Robert Mathis on most downs. That, in turn, opened up some one-on-one situations in the middle that the Colts' defensive tackles were able to exploit.

4. The coverage units are still a cause for concern:

It was kind of a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance by the Colts' coverage units tonight. In the first quarter, they played well. Vinatieri was getting some nice air under his kicks, the tackling was sure and gap discipline looked improved. But that didn't last long.

Just three minutes into the second quarter, Yamon Figurs had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

But overall, it was a decent night for the special teams. Punter Hunter Smith was solid, even pinning the Ravens deep on a couple of occasions, Michael Coe blocked a punt for a safety.

5. The Colts need to get Joseph Addai back on track:
Addai hasn't had a 100-yard game since Week 8, but given that the Colts are 4-1 over that period, fans shouldn't be too worried.

Remember, Joseph has been running behind a banged-up offensive line. He's still averaging a very decent 4.3 yards per carry and has a nice knack for finding the endzone.

As mentioned on the NBC broadcast tonight, Addai has taken his share of bumps and bruises this season but now seems to be finally getting back to full strength.

Expect him to get stronger as the season wears on. The Colts will lean on Joseph come January and he'll be ready to shoulder that load.


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