Ravens pounded in Colts' stampede

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens collided with rock bottom, squashed like insects underneath the pounding cleats of the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

One year after the Colts broke the city of Baltimore and its football team's heart with a narrow playoff victory en route to claiming the Vince Lombardi title, they absolutely embarrassed the Ravens in a 44-20 laugher Sunday night before 70,513 at M&T Bank Stadium.

This ceased being a competitive contest in mere minutes as the Ravens (4-9) wound up committing five turnovers in losing a franchise-record seventh game in a row as they dropped into sole possession of last place in the AFC North.

"It's like Groundhog Day," linebacker Bart Scott said. "That's the way it's been for us this whole year."

This was a total debacle for a Baltimore football team that has endured a series of indignities all year after launching the season at training camp in Westminster with lofty Super Bowl aspirations.

It was a completely different intensity than the fight the Ravens displayed in a 27-24 loss last week to the undefeated New England Patriots. "We didn't compete," receiver Derrick Mason said. "In this league, in order to be considered one of the elite teams, you got to do it week in and week out. We showed a level of competitiveness last week. We didn't show it this week. I don't know why.

"As players, you got to be able to get up each and every game regardless of who you're playing and what you're playing for. This one hurts. I think it comes to a point where you should get tired of walking into a locker room with the same look on your face and the same old feeling. As a competitor, you should want it to change."

A nationally televised audience witnessed the unraveling of last year's AFC North champions. It was the most points allowed by the Ravens since a 45-19 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998, and it was two points of shy the most points allowed in franchise history.

"It was hugely disappointing to our fans, players and organization to not follow up with a better game than that," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "All we know to do is go back and work. I wish there was a better answer than that, but I don't have it.

"It's a shock to the system when it started out the way it did. You have to be able to overcome it, but emotionally that is tough."

This time, though, the Ravens seemed totally flat as if they had used up all their emotion. The fans began emptying the stands during the first quarter.

"We didn't show up and do our job today," cornerback Corey Ivy said. "There's no excuses for playing like this."

It got so bad that Colts All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning left the game midway through the third quarter with a 37-point lead, replaced by rarely-used backup Jim Sorgi. Manning had already done plenty of damage, completing 13 of 17 passes for 249 yards, four touchdown passes and no interceptions for a sterling 157.5 quarterback rating.

"Peyton smelled blood in the water and went after it," Scott said. "He saw weakness, and he tried to exploit it."

Conversely, Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller was the picture of ineptitude with three interceptions. He passed for just 17 yards in the first half with two interceptions for a 27.1 quarterback rating.

"It was a tough loss, especially coming off last week," Boller said. "I don't have an answer. They were much more ready to play the game than us. We can't play the way we did and expect to win a game, let alone be in the game."

Boller also had a two-point conversion pass intercepted in the fourth quarter following a meaningless touchdown pass to wide receiver Devard Darling.

Boller completed 19 of 25 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown for a 61.2 quarterback rating.

"It's the same old scenario," Billick said. "You can't win if you turn the ball over against a team, any team, let alone a team like that."

The Ravens' black uniforms matched their dark mood with several players visibly frustrated on the sidelines.

They had good reason to be extremely upset with themselves.

It was an ugly performance that surpasses a rout earlier this season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Exploited by Manning at every turn, a shorthanded secondary had no hope of slowing down a prolific passing game.

Playing without starting cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle due to a knee strain and a shoulder injury, respectively, the Ravens' defensive backs were torched.

There was no extinguishing this fire storm, either.

Not with Derrick Martin and Ivy starting in place of McAlister and Rolle.

First, Manning stepped forward in the pocket and launched a bomb to Reggie Wayne, hitting him in stride for a 34-yard touchdown pass well behind seldom-utilized nickel back David Pittman.

Running back Willis McGahee, coming off a season-high 138-yard outing against the undefeated New England Patriots a week ago, compounded the problem with a fumble punched out of his hand by defensive end Robert Mathis.

Two plays after Marlin Jackson pounced on the football and returned it 21 yards down to the Ravens' 12-yard line, running back Joseph Addai built a 14-0 advantage by easily bursting into the end zone untouched for a 1-yard touchdown run.

It only got uglier and uglier.

Boller stared down his primary target, regressing in his fundamentals as his intended pass for wide receiver Derrick Mason was intercepted by middle linebacker Gary Brackett. Just six seconds later, Addai was in the end zone again as he dashed past linebackers Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott for a touchdown on a 19-yard swing pass.

"When it rains, it pours," defensive tackle Kelly Gregg said. "They just jumped out on us and we couldn't recover. We played sloppy on defense and we played sloppy on offense. It's terrible.

"You played a good game last week even though you lost and you think you're going to come out and get a win. To have an effort like that is inexcusable."

In two minutes, an even worse scenario unfolded as Sam Koch's punt was blocked by defensive back Michael Coe with the football ricocheting 32 yards out of the back of the Ravens' end zone for a safety.

It was the first blocked punt against Baltimore since a Sept. 18, 2005 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

It was 23-0, the second-most points in the first quarter in Colts franchise history.

"It snowballed into what it was," offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "We're not good enough offensively that we can do that. We're not good enough to do that to our defense."

And there was no relief in sight.

Addai, whom Scott and middle linebacker Ray Lewis taunted and attempted to intimidate prior to last year's 15-6 AFC divisional playoff loss, eluded all tacklers on an 11-yard touchdown run to pad the lead to 30-0.

Martin's attempt to tackle Addai failed as he didn't even slow down his path to the end zone.

The Ravens finally answered on the ensuing kickoff, recording their lone score with their chief bright spot: rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs.

Figurs changed directions, reversing field to sprint 94 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown to prevent the shutout.

"Obviously, there was a spark there," Billick said.

The Colts' domination was otherwise uninterrupted.

Pittman, a disappointing third-round draft pick whose work ethic and skills have been criticized in the past by the coaching staff, was beaten badly by rookie wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Pittman bit on a Manning pump fake, falling to the ground on his hands and knees.

He got up, but it was a pointless chase by that point as Gonzalez casually collected a 57-yard touchdown catch.

That was enough for defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to watch as he benched Pittman at that point.

Down 37-7 at halftime, the Ravens managed to gain just 57 yards on 24 plays with only five first downs.

The Colts piled up 255 yards of total offense with 14 first downs.

Manning wasn't quite done. He delivered his fourth touchdown pass, his second to Gonzalez from 40 yards out. Gonzalez burst past Ivy for the score.

There was no hope, no comeback in the offing.

Boller stared down Mark Clayton on the next drive and was easily intercepted by Brackett again as he read the struggling quarterback's eyes for his second interception of the game.

"Sometimes, when it's not there you got to throw it away," Boller said.

He was replaced under center in the final minutes by rookie quarterback Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State who scrambled six yards for his first NFL touchdown in his professional debut.

Smith completed three of five passes for 33 yards.

"It definitely leaves a damper on the moment because we didn't get a win," Smith said. "We didn't get a win regardless of what I did."

Now, the Ravens will try to stave off the abject humiliation of possibly giving the winless Miami Dolphins (0-13) their first victory next week in South Florida.

"It's a must-win because if we go down there and lose to a Dolphins team that isn't really as bad as people think they it could get really ugly around here," Ivy said. "We don't want that. We want to keep some kind of sanity around here."

It already seems pretty insane, but a loss to Miami would mark an exclamation point on a brutally bad season.

"We're not going to quit," Scott said. "You don't want to be the guy on Miami's record saying, 'Hey, the only team we beat is the Ravens.'"

NOTES: Ogden didn't finish the game, replaced by Adam Terry at left tackle in the second half. There was little point in having the veteran, who's likely to retire after the season, remain in the game. … Running back Willis McGahee, fullback Le'Ron McClain and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata left the game with injuries, but returned. … Rolle, who aggravated his shoulder injury prior to the game, and Ngata will have magnetic resonance imaging exams today. "They thought they could do something about it, but it just wasn't going to hold up," Billick said of Rolle. "They did the prudent thing in him not going." ... Mason eclipsed his own single-season receptions mark of 86 established in 2005, catching his 87th pass late in the third quarter.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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