Ravens dominated by Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The football sailed high into the air as a perfect lob from Peyton Manning landed several yards behind trailing Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister. He was relegated to an excellent view of the back of Marvin Harrison's jersey when the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver caught the touchdown pass in stride in the first quarter.

The 67-yard strike from Manning was an early exclamation point that signaled how the Ravens and their top-ranked defense would be barbecued by the Colts' high-octane passing game in a 31-3 meltdown of a loss Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"This is bad," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "You take your hats off to them, but we did some things to make it easy for them to score.

"We made mistakes early and we made them fast and they capitalized on every mistake we made. That doesn't make for a good dish right there."

It wasn't the only breakdown from McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who entered the game with three interceptions. And it wouldn't be the lone indignity the Ravens (2-3) would endure as they absorbed their third consecutive defeat after opening the season with two AFC North victories.

It marks the Ravens' sixth consecutive loss to Indianapolis (3-2), including a heartbreaking AFC divisional playoff loss two seasons ago and this latest defeat is one year removed from a 44-20 rout in Baltimore. It's the Colts' first win at their pristine new stadium.

"It's frustrating, we thought we would play a hell of a lot better than we did," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "This one hurts. We don't take kindly to getting our ass kicked. That's what happened."

This time, there was no confidence to be derived from another competitive loss by three points. This was an old-fashioned belt-whipping punctuated by McAlister being beaten twice by Harrison for scores with Manning also exploiting cornerback Corey Ivy for another touchdown pass.

The eight-time Pro Bowl passer finished with three touchdown passes on 19 of 28 accuracy for 271 yards and no interceptions for a sterling 134.7 quarterback rating. The Ravens were shorthanded in the secondary, missing starting cornerback Samari Rolle following neck surgery, nickel back Fabian Washington with a dislocated right shoulder and starting strong safety Dawan Landry sidelined from a spinal cord concussion.

"We made mistakes and their guys made plays," Ryan said. "You try to do a coverage and some help. Shoot, that wasn't the answer, either.

"Now, he's got more time to look over the field. We tried everything. They had the answers and we didn't."

Meanwhile, the offense was overwhelmed by a speedy, undersized and oft-criticized Colts defense as rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw three interceptions and fumbled twice.

Against the NFL's last-ranked run defense, the Ravens' fourth-ranked running game was limited to a season-low 51 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The final outcome was extremely predictable.

"We got what we deserved," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That's what happens when you play the way we did. I like the way our team continued to compete, fight and I liked the way they are going to handle adversity.

"They are mighty men, and I think we've got a great future in front of us. I can't wait to see where we go from here."

During the first touchdown, McAlister appeared to peek into the backfield and then he couldn't catch up to a streaking Harrison.

There were no safeties in the vicinity to help out as McAlister was isolated on the right sideline.

When asked if McAlister was supposed to have assistance, Ryan replied: "I don't remember the coverage."

McAlister also had trouble reacting quickly enough in the second quarter on a five-yard slant from Harrison for a touchdown. It was the first time that Harrison had caught two touchdown passes in a game since Dec. 24, 2006.

"We're in Cover 1," McAlister said. "I allowed him to get inside and he made the play."

Added Ryan: "It's hard to defend against a perfect pass. We saw that a couple of times with Peyton. It's unfortunate. He looked a hell of a lot better this week than he had in the previous games."

McAlister has had problems with his right knee, but denied that was the cause behind the touchdowns allowed.

"My knee is fine," McAlister said. "It's not an issue. We lost. They outperformed us. The Colts came out and did what they normally do. Can't sit there and say we didn't expect it, just didn't execute.

"It's time for us to reflect on what happened and find a way to get better. You can't go around and point fingers."

Ivy was beaten by wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the first quarter for a 22-yard touchdown when he didn't turn around to challenge a well-delivered pass.

"I've got to play better," Walker said. "I always put it on me. I would never question the intensity and preparation of our players."

Free safety Ed Reed chalked up the shortcomings of the NFL's No. 1 pass defense to communication breakdowns, including some confusion he detected during practice heading into the game.

"You try to make those corrections, but, once you get out there, it's a different atmosphere and things happen a little bit faster," Reed said. "W e didn't want to get in a comeback mode against this team because if you do we know what's going to happen.

"We wanted to keep them from jumping out there, but, once it started, it was downhill from there. You got to learn to pick yourself up when you get hit like that. We just couldn't get up."

Uncharacteristically, the Ravens had trouble tackling as running back Dominic Rhodes slipped past middle linebacker Ray Lewis on a 38-yard run in the second quarter as he eluded and bounced off five or six defenders to set up Harrison's second score.

"My mama told me if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all," Lewis said.

Offensively, Baltimore generated just 49 yards in nearly the first 2 1/2 quarters with just three first downs by halftime.

After fullback Le'Ron McClain lost a fumble in the first quarter when defensive end Raheem Brock struck the ball with his helmet, linebacker Freddie Keiaho recovered to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri's 37-yard field goal.

Flacco finished 28-for-38 with 241, mostly inconsequential yards, was sacked four times and botched a handoff that rookie running back Ray Rice recovered.

He was intercepted by safety Melvin Bullitt on a pass intended for wide receiver Mark Clayton at the Baltimore 32 with 14:17 remaining in the first quarter. It was the third play of the Ravens' first offensive possession.

"It's a combination of bad throws and bad decisions," Flacco said. "I threw two of them high and missed the guys for some reason. I've just got to make better decisions."

Manning led the Colts on an 80-yard drive to open the second half as Rhodes (25 carries, 73 yards) busted into the end zone untouched for a 1-yard touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, Manning's 67-yard touchdown pass to Wayne behind Frank Walker was nullified due to a holding penalty.

The Ravens avoided a potential shutout on kicker Matt Stover's 37-yard field goal with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.

"This is embarrassing," running back Willis McGahee said. "But it's probably a wakeup call for us."


Quarterback: D-minus

The primary reason why this isn't an F for Joe Flacco is because I tend to grade rookie quarterbacks on a curve. He was generally befuddled by the Colts' Cover 2 schemes, tossing a career-high three interceptions and failing to look off the safety. He completed 28 of 38 passes for 241 yards for a 57.0 quarterback rating while being sacked four times and fumbling twice. For the season, Flacco has one touchdown, seven interceptions and 844 passing yards on 62.5 percent accuracy with 10 sacks and a 60.7 rating.

Running backs: D-plus

Against the NFL's last-ranked run defense, Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain failed to deliver or break many tackles against a smallish front seven. The Ravens gained just 51 rushing yards on 19 carries for a 2.7 average with just 14 on the ground in the first half. McClain was limited to minus-two yards on two carries, McGahee had 18 yards on eight carries and Rice had 23 yards on six carries. The main positive was Rice's career-high seven catches for 64 yards.

Receivers: C-minus

They didn't consistently create separation, and veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason lost a fumble. He caught six passes for 70 yards as Demetrius Williams woke up and registered six catches for 53 yards. Mark Clayton and Todd Heap combined for just four catches and 26 yards.

Offensive line: D-minus

They had no answers for the Colts' speed and aggressiveness upfront as they did whatever they wanted with four sacks and three forced fumbles. It was a step backward for a unit that had made strides all season. Left tackle Jared Gaither struggled against star defensive end Dwight Freeney's patented spin move, and right tackle Willie Anderson was even worse as speed rusher Robert Mathis posted three sacks. Guard Marshal Yanda hurt his right knee and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

Defensive line: D

Peyton Manning was sacked twice, but generally had plenty of time to operate. The Ravens weren't as effective as normal at keeping blockers off the linebackers and creating a wall inside. Dominic Rhodes only averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but had his moments, including a 38-yard jaunt, as he picked up 73 yards on 25 carries as well as an untouched touchdown run. Trevor Pryce was the most active down lineman.

Linebackers: C-minus

They were far from intimidating Sunday as Dominic Rhodes shook off a Ray Lewis arm tackle in the open field as well as several other defenders for a 38-yard run. There weren't nearly as many hard hits as a week ago against the Tennessee Titans. Lewis had an early sack, Bart Scott had seven tackles and Terrell Suggs had five tackles, two for losses and a quarterback hit.

Secondary: F

They were burnt on a regular basis and had some communication issues and just plain fundamental breakdowns where they didn't react well to fly patterns and didn't turn around to defend the football. Chris McAlister struggled the most, getting beat twice by Marvin Harrison for touchdowns, including a 67-yard score to open the scoring. He doesn't seem to be able to push off his right knee well enough to change directions. Corey Ivy had his troubles, too, getting beaten by Reggie Wayne for a score with Frank Walker giving up a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty.

Special teams: D-plus

The Colts treated return specialist Yamon Figurs like a human crash dummy, regularly bashing him into the ground. He has a knee contusion after being limited to eight yards on two punt returns and a 17.7 average on three kickoff returns as there wasn't much blocking and his decisions weren't the best. The kick coverage got better. Punter Sam Koch was the lone bright spot, averaging 49 yards on five punts, including a 57-yarder.

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