Recap: Colts lose first home preseason game against Ravens 19-18

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Andrew Luck (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What caught our eye during the Indianapolis Colts’ 19-18 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The final score was one for the books. The Colts took an 18-17 lead on Stephen  Morris’ 7-yard touchdown pass to running back Trey Williams with less than 4 minutes to play only to see the Ravens go in front 19-18 when linebacker Anthony Levin Sr. intercepted Morris’ 2-point conversion attempt and return it for a rare 2-point defensive score.

Mixed results: The game plan involved giving Andrew Luck and the starting offense at least one quarter of heavy work. Mission accomplished, although the two Luck-led drives ended with mixed results.

While their returning quarterback/catalyst was completing all eight of his passes for 69 yards in his first appearance in more than nine months, the Colts only were able to generate Adam Vinatieri’s 24-yard field goal on their first possession. The second drive reached the Baltimore 23-yard line, but fizzled when tight end Dwayne Allen lost a fumble.

That was it for Luck and many front-liners. But it was enough.

“He ran the offense, he made great decisions, we moved the ball up and down the field, but then we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said. “We should have had two touchdowns.’’

In the first quarter, Luck & Co. enjoyed hefty statistical edges in first downs (7-1), total yards (99-9) and time of possession (10:55-4:05).

The crowd even got a glimpse of running back Frank Gore. He had one carry for 5 yards, then exited the game.

Backup plans: After Luck’s night was finished, Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris resumed their bids to be his backup.

Tolzien played the second and third quarters and, despite an occasional errant or batted down pass, moved the offense to a pair of scores. He completed 13-of-18 passes for 107 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown to rookie Tevaun Smith. Tolzien also directed a 10-play, 55-yard drive that led to Vinatieri’s 40-yard field goal.

Morris finished, and did nothing to hurt his case. Late in the fourth quarter, he led the offense on an 8-play, 64-yard drive and capped it by hitting Williams with a 7-yard TD. That gave the Colts a brief 18-17 lead, which was erased by Levins’ unique pick-2 on the 2-point conversion attempt.

On the night, Morris completed 7-of-11 passes for 66 yards and the one TD.

Defense short-handed: We’re still waiting for an opportunity to gauge the potency of Ted Monachino’s defense. Five projected starters did not play: pass-rush linebacker Robert Mathis, cornerback Vontae Davis, safety Clayton Geathers and linemen Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson.

The coaching staff has been cautious with Mathis’ activity due to a minor knee injury while Davis injured an ankle in practice last week. Langford is on the mend from arthroscopic knee surgery and Anderson still is on the physically unable to perform list. Geathers (foot) is on the non-football injury list.

Compounding matters against the Ravens was a hamstring injury that kept nickel corner Darius Butler out.

There were a few flashes from players eager to provide depth. Safety Winston Guy made a nice move to undercut a route by Darren Waller for a third-quarter interception. And lineman T.Y.McGill continued to make his presence felt with at least two plays behind the line of scrimmage. Also showing flashes were linebackers Earl Okine and Josh McNary and Delvon Simmons.

Flagged: There’s a very good chance Pagano will spend a portion of next week harping on his team’s proclivity for drawing penalty flags.

After being penalized seven times for 75 yards last week at Buffalo, the Colts were flagged six times for 81 yards against the Ravens in the first half. Two were killers.

Rookie cornerback Darius White was hit with a 41-yard interference penalty early in the second quarter that gave the Ravens a first-and-10 at the Colts 15. Two plays later, Ryan Mallett and Kamar Aiken collaborated on a 14-yard touchdown.

Later in the quarter as Baltimore was driving in the closing minute, defensive tackle Zach Kerr was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul that gave the Ravens a first-and-10 at the 24. Three plays later, No. 3 QB Josh Johnson hit Jeremy Butler with a 12-yard touchdown.

By game’s end, the Colts had been penalized nine times for 101 yards.

Medical matters:  The training staff has been kept during the preseason, and that only increased.

Prior to the game, the team decided to sit Davis (ankle), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and Mathis (knee).

Knocked out of the game in the first half were cornerback Patrick Robinson (groin), rookie offensive lineman Joe Haeg (right ankle/foot) and first-year offensive lineman Kevin Graf (left ankle). It was the second straight game Graf had to be taken off the field on a cart.

The injury to Robinson greatly depleted the Colts’ cache of corners. Vontae Davis was held out of the game with an undisclosed injury suffered in practice Thursday and slot corner Darius Butler was held out with a hamstring injury.

In the fourth quarter, rookie safety Stefan McClure suffered a hamstring injury and did not return.