Some highs, some lows, and a lot of missed opportunities led to a 24-9 Colts loss to the Ravens in the Wild Card Round of the AFC Playoffs.
The Colts unexpectedly remarkable 2012 season comes to a close Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, losing to the Ravens 24-9. The Colts hung around into the 4th quarter, but a rare Playoff missed Field Goal from Adam Vinatieri and a subsequent march down the field by the Ravens put the game away at 24-9 with about nine minutes remaining. An Andrew Luck interception with five minutes to go, on a tipped pass on 4th down sealed the win.
Overall the Defense played well enough to win the game, forcing two Ray Rice fumbles, and stopping the Ravens on enough drives to give the Offense a chance to win. The Defense did give up quite a few long plays, but that the nature of this Defense. Their aggressiveness helped at other times, so you can't have it both ways. In particular, I thought Vontae Davis played really well (and it wasn't a coincidence Joe Flacco didn't throw at him at all in the 2nd half, and Anquan Boldin had a huge half).
I shouldn't just overlook those big plays given up by the Defense, as all but one led to touchdowns for the Ravens. The first was right before the half on a screen pass to Rice, a play that both Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea read. Bethea overran the play and got blocked out of it, and Mathis is still very green on Pass Defense, so a little juke by Rice got him away and off to the races. Boldin had two 50+ yard catches in the first five minutes of the second half, and had the 18 yard TD that put the game away. There was also a 43 yard run by Bernard Pierce, and five different Ravens receivers caught a ball of 20+ yards.
Luck played pretty well in his first career playoff game, as he was continually let down by his receivers. I'm guessing 10+ drops on his 54 passes, which was the story of the game for the Offense. Vick Ballard had 91 yards on 22 carries, which is a pretty good day, and Reggie Wayne had another fantastic day, catching 9 balls for 114 yards. They just couldn't find the end zone, settling for field goals on 4 possessions (one was right before half), and running 84 offensive plays without a touchdown, which just won't cut it, especially in the Playoffs.
This team played on raw emotion for much of the season, but the talent difference was clear from the start against the Ravens. To get some of these young guys Playoff experience will be instrumental going forward, but they'll need to continue adding talent, which they certainly will over the next couple years, and they keep competing for Playoff spots, and in due time competing for Super Bowls.
While it's disappointing their season is over, there is nothing to be disappointed about if you are a fan of the Indianapolis Colts. This team shattered all expectations, and now have that taste of the Playoffs, and come back hungrier next season.
P.S. Now we're all safe to root for a certain #18.