Ravens Drop to 2-1 after Loss to Colts
RAVENS DROP TO 2-1 AFTER LOSS TO COLTS – There are no guarantees in pro football. On Sunday it seemed the Ravens lost sight of that fact.
Still feeling very sure of themselves, basking in the comfort and spoils of a massive win over the Bengals, the Ravens were yanked back down to earth by a hungry Colts team intent on survival.
The laundry list of injured starters, slick conditions, and unfavorable officiating all factored into the upset, but I’m hesitant to let this team off the hook so easily.
The Ravens have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, and to host a playoff game, they can’t afford to lose games to clearly inferior opponents like the Colts.
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Every Dog Has Its Day
To the Colts’ credit, they swung well above their weight. Minshew was almost flawless, save his Dan Orlovsky moment late in the fourth quarter.
It’s rare to be more concerned about facing a team’s backup than its starter, but that jorts-wearing maniac is the exception. He played within his means and didn’t make any of the rookie mistakes that Richardson may have, had he started.
It helped Minshew to be able to lean on the run game. Zack Moss punished the Ravens for failing to set the edge — ripping off multiple nice runs and totaling 122 yards. While Baltimore’s defense didn’t play up to their standard, they allowed only 19 points through four quarters, which should be good enough to win.
Can the Ravens Actually Play Offense?
After clicking against the Bengals, it seemed Baltimore’s offensive woes may have been a week-one aberration. But once again, the unit was sloppy.
Their two lost fumbles proved costly against a Colts team that played a clean game. Their drives showed early promise but fizzled out around midfield. Lamar threw the ball well from a physical standpoint, but he looked indecisive, a reason for his four sacks. With the score tied and 23 seconds on the clock, Jackson faced first a 1st and 10 from the Colts’ 49.
The protection broke down almost immediately and Jackson evaded the rush, scrambling out to the left. But rather than realizing that the play was dead and none of the Ravens’ vertical routes were going to suddenly get open, he took a costly sack. The drive ended in a 61-yard Justin Tucker field goal attempt that fell short.
I’ve often believed when Tucker is off, so is everyone else. That said, let’s take a moment to appreciate the level of greatness Tucker has achieved to be considered “off” for missing a field goal five yards short of the NFL record that he set. Unfair standards, but they come from a place of love.
Baltimore’s time management was egregious.
Up three points following Minshew’s safety, the Ravens put forth the world’s sorriest attempt at a four-minute offense. First was Zay Flowers’ mental error: signaling for a fair catch three seconds before the two-minute warning.
This effectively gave the Colts an extra timeout, which was critical for a team with only one remaining. This blunder falls on Baltimore’s coaches for not telling the 23-year-old rookie to run around and kill the necessary time.
On first down, the Ravens ran the ball into the two-minute warning. Second down, they ran again and forced Indy to burn a timeout. On third down,they ran once again but committed a penalty that stopped the clock.
A sequence that should have taken at least 80 seconds off the clock instead burned 22. This allowed the Colts to leisurely drive down the field and hit the game-tying field goal that forced overtime.
The fifth quarter of the game proved to be just as infuriating as the first four.
The defense delivered, and the offense fell flat. The defense came through, and the offense stalled. The Ravens’ second offensive series was cut short by a missed P.I. call on fourth down in Indianapolis territory. It was the type of foul that comes up when you Google “pass interference.”
The Colts’ linebacker was beaten, he panicked and hooked his arm around the waist of Zay Flowers, bringing him to the ground well before the ball arrived. There was no traffic to muddy the ref’s view, no second angle to show that Zay flopped; it was textbook.
That said, the game never should have gotten to that point. You’d love it if the Ravens could have gotten the wake-up call they needed without it being reflected in the loss column, but perhaps this clunker will ward off future complacency. Going forward, the Ravens must realize, in this league, there are no gimmies.