I first made this fanpost back in the offseason. It is essentially a review of some of the more intersting parts of the 2006 AFC Divisional Game against the Ravens.
Now, that game really has no impact this year. In my opinion, the Colts are better now than they were then, and the Ravens are worse now than in 2006. However, the game may still be pretty similar, albeit in the comfort of the Luke instead of that madhouse that is M&T Bank Stadium.
Anyway, enjoy. And, hopefully this year's game is as good, if not better, and with the same result at the end.
I'll preface my post by saying this. The Ravens hold a special place in m heart. I am not old enough to remember the Baltimore Colts, so it has nothing to do with that. It is more because I love defensive football, and other than Pittsburgh, no franchise seems to relish that type of football than Baltimore. Or course, if they play the Colts or Raiders, I'll want that D to start to play like a seive, but I keep them as a team that I have no problems if they do well, unless at expense of my two teams.
This was a great game, even though it was low scoring, and it really had some interest points when looking back on it. I'll start with a few Baltimore notes, as they did contribute to the quality of this game.
1.) That Raven's team was really, really good. It seems easy to forget, especially sinced the msm fed us some story about a "Raven resurgence" this past year, that they were 13-3 in 2006. They had the best defense in the league, allowing just 201 points (22 less than the '08 Steelers, for a comparison). They were absolutely loaded on defense. They had Pryce, Gregg and a young Ngata at DL, Scott, Suggs, Lewis and a pre-Belichick-career-killing Adalius Thomas, and then four good DBs in McAllister, Rolle, Landry and Reed. This was no punk team, and that is why I was not surprised when they had a "resurgence" last year.
2.) Ed Reed is a bad, bad man. He was, unquestionably, the best player on the field that night. He was everywhere. He had two picks, on plays where he looked totally receiver-like in the way he adjusted, and elevated for the ball. He had a huge hit on Dallas Clark (people also tend to forget that Ed used to be a hellacious hitter, as good as Troy or Bob are now), and two other near picks. He then had one play where Manning was essentially throwing a desperate lob, one that almost seemed like he was throwing it away, and Ed rushed over, did like a 40' vertical and grabbed it. It was out of bounds, but is was an amazing play. This is another guy that msm seemed to make people believe only became a great one this year. First off, his best year was 2004, when he played SS (like Troy, and better than Troy, or Bob too), and he has been sick for seven years now. The guy is a surefire hall of famer, and for proof, he should just send people this game tape.
3.) M&T Bank Stadium is a bueaty, and has a great atmosphere, especially at night. This one I felt before watching the game, but it only enhanced it. For whatever reason, maybe the angle of the stands, it feels like the players are playing in a canyon floor, with mountainous walls surrounding them. They feel as they are on top of the players, making for a very loud, intimidating, yet intimate setting. At night, the fan reaction, and this feeling only improve. If only they wore thier black uni's. It is RCA Dome/Qwest Field loud, and more open-air then Qwest. It is, as for the new stadiums go, one of a kind.
That's enough Ravening. I had to remind myself that this is not Baltimore Beatdown. On to the Colts points.
1.) I have never seen Peyton look so flustered/confused and altogether bad. It's not his fault. That Ravens D was amazing. Had we lost, I would have been interested to see what they did to Brady, and then if they made Rex Grossman crap his pants. Back to Peyton, he just was totally lost. This was a worse kind of lost than he looked in the NE playoff games circa 2003-04. He threw the two picks, had two other sure picks tipped by Ray Lewis. He had a couple of throws where I literraly felt like screaming "where the hell are you throwing." Rex Ryan had his number that day. It speaks more to Peyton that on a day when he was constantly pressured (if you have the tape, when the Ravens are on D, play this game: Try to pick which guys are rushing on D, it is nearly impossible), he came up with the throws when he needed to.
2.) The Idea to quick-snap on 3rd Down was awful. Much noise was made later on of Peyton's idea to quick snap on third downs, and the success it gave them. There was absolutely no success. It did do one good, of constantly confusing the rushers. On one play, after Peyton quick snapped, three guys "rushed" but only one came, the other two just stood there dumbfounded. Sadly, that play was a microcosm of the idea, as Peyton threw his second pick to Mr. Reed. Both picks, in fact, came on quick-snaps. What is more amazing, is in Peter Kings article in SI the following week, he hailed this idea as brilliant. I guess Peter was to busy googling Tom Brady.
3.) There were two passes to Dallas Clark, that may have been two of the best Peyton has thrown ever. The firstcame on a play where he was about to be clobbered by Adalius Thomas (for those who don't remember, before he went to NE, Thomas was a feared pass rusher), he let one go 20 yards downfield. It nestled perfectly into the fingers of Dallas Clark, right before he got clobbered b Ed Reed. The next was even more memorable. Clark was completely covered, and I mean completely, like mos QB's would have gotten yelled at if they attempted it. Somehow Peyton fitted it in, which led to the game clinching field goal by Adam. It was absolutely sick.
4.) The Colts grew up that night. They may have tried to become a smash mouth team before, but they did that night. They played against the best D in the league, and played a smashmouth drive to perfection. With 7:42, they were clinging to a 12-6 lead. They churned all but 23 seconds off the clock. It was Addai, it was Rhodes, it was the O-Line manhandling the best D in football. They threw it ONCE on that drive. It was brilliant. The Colts forever changed their image that night.
That was a great game, especially for a defensive football fan. The Colts defense played great, pressuring McNair throughout the second half, forcing four turnovers, and holding them to 244 yards. The Ravens defense played nearly as well, forcing Manning into un-Manning like plays, but the Colts made the plays. As I said before, the Colts grew up that night. That was the game that springboarded them to a super bowl. What is more amazing, is out of my four Colts points, only two were positives, and they still won the game, pretty comfortable even. They were amazing in their resiliency. That was a damn good Ravens team. They were probably going to beat NE (or SD, who they beat earlier that year), and then they would have hammered Rexy to a pulp. However, Peyton and the boys got to them. I really think this is a vastly underrated game, and a vastly underrated one in terms of its importance. Hope you enjoyed this little memorial, and if you have the Road to Super Bowl XLI set (and if you don’t, I implore you to), strike it up. Two hours of good hard-nosed football, full with a great atmosphere, Ed Reed playing out of his mind, Peyton actually looking human, but also amazing, and Adam Vinatieri in all his glory. It’s two hours of fun.