Colts hold on down the stretch to beat the Ravens 20-13
INDIANAPOLIS – As September turns to October, so goes up their competition.
For the moment Jacksonville and Tennessee are gone off the schedule, saved till the end of the season when a division title will be in the balance.
Sunday’s contest against the Ravens represented a chance for Chuck Pagano’s team to show their might on a more global scale. This game was to see where they ranked among the best in the league after their first quarter of the season since many consider Baltimore to be among that elite group of teams in the league.
The Colts showed their prowess in an unusual afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium, taking an early lead than holding on down the stretch for a 20-13 win. It’s Indianapolis’ third-in-a-row and improves their record to 3-2 on the season.
With the win and a loss by the Texans, the Colts are now tied for first in the AFC South.
Greg Manusky’s Colts defense was the star of the game, holding the Ravens to just 287 total yards and forcing three turnovers. They finished out the day in style, forcing a Baltimore turnover on downs to end the game.
Andrew Luck finished 32-of-49 for 312 yards with a touchdown pass and a run. The Colts were plagued by turnovers including two Luck interceptions and a pair of fumbles but had enough defense to preserve the win.
Early on the game’s pace was controlled by the Colts even with a little bit of an odd start. The Colts took the opening kickoff 59 yards and moved all the way to the Ravens’ 21-yard line before they turned the ball over on downs. But on Baltimore’s first play from scrimmage Steve Smith had the ball knocked out of his hands by Mike Adams and the Colts’ Montori Hughes was there for the recovery at the Ravens’ 22-yard line.
Adam Vinatieri turned it into points with a 38-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
It was the Colts defense, however, that would prove to be the star in the early going, sacking Joe Flacco twice in the first quarter and keeping Baltimore off the scoreboard. The continued that strong play in the second quarter as the stopped a Ravens drive inside their own five-yard line when Sergio Brown sacked Flacco on a blitz on fourth down.
The Colts would increase that score on a bizarre and historic drive late in the second quarter. Over the course of 20 plays the Colts kicked a field goal, took off the board when Baltimore got a holding penalty, then had a T.Y. Hilton touchdown get called back on a holding call and then eventually settled for another Vinatieri field goal to make it 6-0.
Baltimore wasn’t finished and finally got on the board late in the half when Justin Tucker hit a 52-yard field goal to make it 6-3.
A turnover-happy Colts defense got another early in the second half when Vontae Davis picked off a pressured Flacco and returned it to the Ravens’ 33-yard line. Luck was able to turn it into points as he hit Dwayne Allen with a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-3. But the Ravens crept closer early in the fourth when a fumble on a punt by Griff Whalen set up another Tucker field goal to cut the lead to seven.
But Luck came up with his best drive of the day as a response, driving the Colts 80-yards down the field on eight plays and then finishing it off with a diving 13-yard scramble touchdown to make it 20-6. The Ravens responded in kind with an 80-yard drive of their own which was aided by a pass interference call on Davis.
Justin Forsett cut through the Colts defense for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-13.
Luck and the offense appeared ready to ice the game away when they drove to the Baltimore 11-yard line with under two minutes to go. But Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled and a Ravens recovery gave them one last chance to tie. But the Colts defense never let them have a major threat, and Greg Toler’s pass break up on fourth down for a pass intended for Smith sealed up a gritty Colts victory that puts them into the NFL’s elite conversation.