Should be a great game today when the Colts visit Baltimore. Your meaningless stat of the morning: The Indy defense is allowing fewer than 16 points per game, but in the past four games it has allowed 6, 14, 17, and 34. That's a trend we should keep an eye on. The Ravens have allowed just over 17 points per game this season. Through 6 games they were allowing nearly 22 points per game. Baltimore's average has dipped dramatically in the past three weeks, allowing just 7, 17, and 0 points in the month of November.
1.) Colts will get the ball first. Chad Simpson gets a horrible return to start the game, kick took a high bounce which slowed him down. Manning starts at the 13 yard line. Play-action, but Manning can't hit Garcon deep thanks to double coverage. Stretch play with Addai. Nothing. Crowd is very loud. Huge conversion to Wayne after the Ravens blitz Lewis. Addai loses one on first down. Pump fake to Garcon. Manning hits him deep inside the ten! Finally! Addai for a couple inside the five. A ONE HANDER FOR DALLAS!!! Manning put it a little long, but Clark makes the grab TO PASS JOHN MACKEY. Colts lead 7-0.
2.) Ravens fumble the Kickoff. Under review. Reversed and ruled down by contact. Homer call, not surprising though. Ravens run twice with short gains on each. Flacco abuses Tim Jennings on third down. Duh. Seen that over and over for two years. That's where Hayden and Jackson's injuries hurt so bad. Short pass to the back. Draw to Rice sets up 3rd and one. McClain easily picks up the first. Flacco to Mason for ten. McGahee for four. Timeout Ravens. No pressure on Flacco, hits McGahee short, breaks a bad tackle to the 34. Lacey breaks up a deep out on first down. Nice one. Draw for 6. Big third down: Flacco goes deep, but can't hit his man deep thanks for VERY HANDSY COVERAGE BY JENNINGS. Cundiff just sneaks his kick in. Colts lead 7-3.
3.) Colts O starts at the 24. Tipped and picked. Bad decision. Manning is fearless perhaps to a fault right now. Returned to the Indy 29.
4.) Rice for 3 yards. Flacco for the endzone, nearly picked by Bullitt. 3rd and long: they pick on Jennings again. ANOTHER GREAT PLAY TO TIP IT AWAY by 23. Field goal. Colts lead 7-6.
5.) 4:01 to play in the first quarter. Couple obvious blocks in the back on the kickoff return. Colts start at the 11 yard line. Great blocking by the line and Addai gets 6. Interior running works best for Indy right now. Santi is back on the roster and picks up the first! Back to Santi again down the seam!! 31 yard gain past midfield. Addai for three yards. Manning under pressure from the blitz, tosses it away. 3rd and long: Ravens rush four and Addai is just short on a catch. 4th and 1: Timeout. Colts run and Addai picks it up. Holding penalty on Indy. The run would have been stuffed without the hold by Saturday. Punt to the ten.
6.) McGahee for two.
1.) This game looks like the grinder most of us predicted. Another draw! Johnson snuffs it out for a short gain. 3rd and four: False Start. 3rd and 9. Huge play here. Dump off to Rice for very little. Tackled by Jennings. Punt. Another return penalty.
2.) Colts will start at their own 32 yard line. Short pass to Garcon. Brown is stuffed. 3rd and 5: Manning has time and hits Collie with a wobbler for 12! Brown to the sideline for 6 yards. Nice. Santi for four. Crowd is into it. 3rd and short: 2nd Timeout. Very uncharacteristic. Manning appears to be having a hard time getting everyone on the same page. Probably due to the noise and Santi being "new." Brown picks it up. Solid. Manning rolls out right and eventually tosses it away. Manning goes deep and it is picked off by Ed Reed who has Wayne doubled. Horrible decision, easy pick. On replay it looks off-target, a good throw is a deep completion to the sideline. Returns it near midfield. Manning is struggling.
3.) Dump off to the back for 5 yards. Rice for 5 and the first. Gouging for another 5 yards. Rice for 14 yards. Draw for no gain on first down. 5:54 to play. Rice for three, down to the Indy 20. Huge third down and 7. Screen is read by Session and company. Interesting blitz. Field goal. Ravens lead 9-7. Big stand by the Indy defense.
4.) Chad "Touchback" Simpson returns the kickoff to the twenty. Colts need to use a little clock and get some type of points. Even 3 would be big. The stretch to Addai for 21!! You read that correctly. Santi down the seam -- takes a shot and HANGS ON! Gain of 22 inside Ravens territory. Addai outide for 5 yards. THIS LOOKS LIKE THE COLTS. 2nd and five: Draw is stuffed. Nice idea, though. Inside three minutes to play and running. Big third down and 5. Just enough time to find 87 on the sidelines. Just gets the feet in. Veteran effort. Ravens almost challenge, but decide against it. Addai for five yards on first down. 2:00 warning. Very pleased with the running game. Perhaps the Ravens are back to the death by 1000 paper cuts defensive strategy that has gotten them beat so many times before. Manning needs to be much more patient, and he'll prevail. TOUCHDOWN JOE ADDAI. Colts lead 14-9.
5.) Ravens get a field goal before the half. Colts nearly get the sack to keep them off the board. Colts lead 14-12.
Manning's mistakes have been the difference between the close game and a comfortable margin at the half. It's too bad because beyond the two picks the Colts played a solid half on both sides of the ball. The good news: the Ravens are kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
The Colts have been able to create decent pressure with Coyer's combination of rushing four and creative blitzing. Rice had a nice half running the ball, but so did Addai. Flacco hasn't done much at all, but unlike #18 he's protecting the football.
1.) Touchback. Rice for one yard. Draw to Rice, breaks a couple tackles. 3rd and 2: Flacco can't make a play to Clayton, defended by Brackett. Punt. Fair catch.
2.) Colts start at their own 33 yard line. Addai right for 3 yards. Colts are blocking thus far. Crazy. Lewis blitzs. Santi catches it near midfield. Addai around the left end for a couple. Wayne over the middle for a big gain and a first down inside the Ravens 30. Addai for seven! Garcon on a quick slant for another first down to the twelve. CHARLIE JOHNSON MISSES THE BLOCK. Could have been six for Brown. Santi fumbles at the goal line, Ravens ball. Third turnover for the Indy offense, and certainly the most critical.
3.) Ravens start at their own 9. Big play for Baltimore. Ravens drive down to the ten yard line, but get stuffed on a critical third and short. Pretty rare short-yardage stop for the Indy D. HE JACKS THE POINT BLANK KICK.
4.) Computer issues: Colts three and out. Punt
5.) Ravens driving near midfield. Lacey breaks up a deep ball. Actually it was a flat drop. Poor coverage. First down, the pressure is not getting there. But it is close. Rice for a short gain. Designed QB keeper fails, Jennings makes the play. Big third down coming.
1.) Colts hang on to the lead despite losing the turnover battle three - nil. Mammoth play here on 3rd and long: Offsides on the Colts. UNREAL. Big penalty because they had forced fourth down. Flacco picks it up on a short toss. Stuffed on first down. WHERE'S THE HOLD?? HOLYCRAP. They held Mathis. The Indy's offense has wasted a pretty decent outing by the defense. Great stand on THREE SHOTS FROM JUST OUTSIDE THE GOAL. Ravens lead 15 - 14.
2.) Nice return by Simpson. Colts start with good field position. Colts drive inside the ten and kick a field goal. Will that be enough? Colts lead 17-15.
3.) There will be no complaining from Indy if they lose this game. Pretty clear storyline. Great return by Baltimore.
Summary: Okay, I'm back. It's too hard for me to do play by play updates in crunch time. I'm too busy throwing pillows and kicking the wall. Did you know: If you slam a pillow against the wall with enough force it sounds like a gunshot? What a finish, though. Baltimore drives deep into the redzone before throwing the game away to Mr. Gary Brackett. Did you see the look on Flacco's face. Agony. Dude looks like Dario Franchitti to me.
The Colts offense gets the first down they needed thanks to some running by Joe Addai. Ray Lewis put a sick hit on Pierre Garcon (6 catches for 108), but the second year player held on. Then the clutch conversion to Wayne off the play action roll out. Great play call that almost didn't work because Reggie slipped. Killer false start on Santi on the next play. That left Indy with little choice about what plays to call. Run, run, run. Punt. Ed Reed did the rest. What a game by Indy's defense. I told DZ on the Colts last drive that I thought a field goal could win it. Surprisingly, I was right. Also: is there any question about who should be the starting running back in Indianapolis? More later.