The Colts relied on their defense to win. The defense did not allow a single Ravens touchdown, allowing only five field goals, and even made an impressive three-down stand on the goal line.
The Colts are not accustomed to this kind of defensive stinginess. Short-yardage situations have always been the team's Achilles heel; this is not the case on Sunday.
Who Looked Good On Offense?
Joseph Addai continues to string together his best stretch of performances since the early part of his second year in the league. He ran for 74 yards on 19 carries, for an average of 3.9 yards a carry, a scored a rushing touchdown.
Even more impressive for Addai, and the offensive line, is that he managed a 21-yard run. Long runs are not something he has made a habit of in his short career.
Second-year wide receiver Pierre Garçon put together the most impressive game of his season, statistically. Garçon caught six of the eight passes his way for 108 yards, including a 66-yard reception in the first quarter to set up the Colts first touchdown.
He showed soft hands, and built on his reputation for strength and toughness by carrying defenders for additional yards and taking a shot from Ravens defensive leader, linebacker Ray Lewis. Garçon not only held onto the ball after Lewis laid him out, he got back to his feet and let Lewis know that the hit did not faze him a bit.
Tight end Tom Santi got his first chance to get on the field this year. He used the opportunity to catch six of the eight passes thrown his way for 80 yards.
Santi did make a couple of rookie mistakes, though, dropping one pass near the goal line by short-arming it and fumbling another pass on the goal line that would have put the Colts in position to score. The Ravens generated three points off of the turnover (a 10-point swing).
There is little doubt that Santi and Garçon benefitted from the attention that Baltimore was placing on Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne. Clark was limited to his lowest receiving yards of the season, gaining only three. He made those yards count though, making a spectacular one-handed grab on a fade route in the end zone for a touchdown.
Wayne continues to dominate opponents, managing 89 yards on seven receptions, despite the Ravens defense keying in on him no matter where he went on the field. Wayne truly has become one of the most dominant receiving forces in the NFL.
Peyton Manning continues to struggle with some of his decisions, communication, or executing on some of his long passes down the field. Manning's first interception came when he attempted to squeeze a pass in to Dallas Clark between three defenders, one of which happened to be right on top of Clark as the pass was arriving. Instead of a completion, the ball was knocked into the air and picked off by Raven safety Dawan Landry (who also happened to be near Clark when the pass was thrown).
On Manning's second interception, he attempted to force a long pass to Reggie Wayne down the left sideline, missing him just a bit too deep and too far toward the center of the field. Safety Ed Reed read the pass the whole way, as Manning looked only at Wayne as the play developed, picked off the pass, and returned it 42 yards.
The Colts offense manages to put up respectable yards, and even manages to look dominant for much of the game, but continues to struggle with consistency. All the yards and dominance in the world means nothing between the 20-yard lines if the offense is unable to convert that effort into six points.
For a few weeks the offense has looked shaky, only truly coming to life when the game is on the line, and only staying in games because the defense has allowed them to flounder without paying a big price on the scoreboard.
Who Looked Good On Defense?
Gary Brackett played his best game of the season, leading the team with nine tackles, including eight solos, two passes defensed, and the game-winning interception late in the fourth quarter that kept a driving Ravens team from scoring.
Brackett's second-most impressive play was stonewalling the Ravens on second-and-goal from the Colts one, as a part of a goal line stand which forced the Ravens into a field goal and allowed the Colts to win the game without scoring another touchdown.
Weak-side linebacker Clint Session had another strong game, making seven tackles, including a tackle for a loss which set the Ravens back on the same goal line stand on third down.
Rookie cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey both continue to play football at a level beyond their experience. Powers made five tackles, including four solos and one tackle for a loss. More importantly, Powers played tight coverage all day and nearly intercepted a long pass to Derrick Mason, midway through the third quarter. Had he come down with the ball, it would have been his greatest play of the year.
Lacey managed seven tackles, with six solos, and defended three passes. He continues to consistently stick with his assignments, and make aggressive plays on the ball, often knocking them out of the air. He does make a mistake once in a while, getting beat by a receiver who does a superb job running a tight route, but has played outstanding for an undrafted rookie.
Defensive tackle Daniel Muir played another strong game, adding seven tackles, with four solos and a tackle for a loss. Muir has the quickest first step off of the snap on the Colts defensive line on most downs (sometimes even quicker than Mathis or Freeney). He has used his size and quickness to penetrate opponent offensive lines, stuffed running plays, and forced quarterbacks out of the pocket.
Muir is one of the biggest defensive surprises for the Colts this year, as they released Ed Johnson and kept only one of their draft picks on the interior of the defensive line.
Tim Jennings continues to play each game, and the season, in a Jekyll v. Hyde manner. On one play it will seem like Jennings finally "gets it," knocking down a pass just like Jacob Lacey a play or two before. On another play he will give a 10-yard cushion to Derrick Mason on an out route, allowing Baltimore to get a huge chunk of yards, putting the defense back on its heels.
Once Kelvin Hayden returns to the lineup, it is unlikely that Jennings will continue to see regular time on the field. Lacey should move to the nickel, with Jennings only getting on the field in dime packages or on special teams. He has had plenty of opportunities to show consistency but has continuously been out-played by younger, lesser-experienced teammates.
For the first time this year, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney were taken out of the game completely. Neither player recorded a sack, neither player recorded a tackle, and failed to regularly generate effective pressure on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
It can be argued that holding penalties were not called, but that has become a fact of life that both players have learned to overcome. Against Baltimore, they did not do so and it took a bigger effort from the secondary and linebackers to make up for it.
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