The Indianapolis Colts returned to the field tonight for their second preseason game, but they ultimately fell to the Baltimore Ravens 19-18 on a go-ahead two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Seriously.
The Colts scored a touchdown to go ahead 18-17, but decided to go for the two-point conversion to try to go up three points. It backfired tremendously as Stephen Morris was intercepted and the Ravens returned it for two points, putting them back up 19-18 - which ultimately became the deciding score as the Colts fell to 1-1 this preseason. Pat McAfee got the try at a game-winning 62-yard kick, but it ultimately fell short.
That was the late-game excitement, but the early excitement came from Andrew Luck, as the Colts’ franchise quarterback made his first appearance in a game since last November. He played well and impressed, which was certainly a welcome sign for the Colts and their fans.
Here’s some notes from tonight’s game:
- Andrew Luck’s return. Obviously the biggest and most notable part of tonight’s game was the fact that Andrew Luck returned to the field for the Colts for the first time since last November. The franchise quarterback was impressive as he did so, too, as he completed all eight pass attempts for 69 yards and also added two rushes for 12 yards. The Colts faltered in the red zone on both of Luck’s drives, but he looked very good.
- Clean pocket. One of the most encouraging aspects of the game tonight with the first team offense was that Andrew Luck had a very clean pocket to throw from - one that he could smoke a cigar from, like Anthony Castonzo hoped. While I’d like to see the all-22 to know for sure, it seemed like the Ravens were dropping a lot of guys in coverage to take away the deep pass, but the Colts still had good protection and Luck settled for the shorter passes as the Colts moved their way down the field. The offensive line did a good job of keeping Luck clean, and both Frank Gore and Robert Turbin had nice blitz pickups as well.
- T.Y. McGill continues to impress. No one has had a better training camp and preseason than defensive lineman T.Y. McGill. He seems to be making plays all over the place, whether it’s in training camp or in a preseason game. McGill tonight made several plays, such as a play where he chased the quarterback down from behind for a sack or where he blew up the offensive line to make a play in the backfield. McGill is playing a lot of snaps with starters Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson out, but he’s been very good and the biggest standout of preseason so far.
- Depth defensive linemen step up. In addition to McGill, several other depth defensive linemen have done a good job this preseason. Tonight, Zach Kerr, Sterling Bailey, Delvon Simmons, and others all did a nice job and made plays.
- Penalties, penalties, penalties. This is one area that is sure to drive Chuck Pagano crazy: the Colts committed nine penalties for 101 yards tonight, including a couple of very costly ones. One penalty gave the Ravens a first down as Trevor Bates was lined up in an illegal formation, while a holding penalty later in the game wiped out a nice Jordan Todman run. It was a sloppy game overall for the Colts in the way of penalties.
- Craziest two-point conversion ever? Here’s one I haven’t seen before: the Colts went for the two-point conversion after scoring the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter (which was the right call, as they wanted to go up three points). The Colts led 18-17 at that point, and their first two-point attempt was negated by a Baltimore penalty, moving it even closer to the goal line. On the second attempt, however, Stephen Morris made a bad decision and his throw was picked off by a Ravens defender, who then took it back all the way for the score. So the Colts actually lost the lead on a two-point conversion, as the touchdown put them ahead and the Ravens then re-took the lead on the conversion. I’ve never seen that happen before.
- Backup wide receiver competition heating up. Chester Rogers, Tevaun Smith, and Quan Bray all received a lot of playing time at wide receiver tonight and made a positive impression, making the backup receiver battle even more interesting. After the top three on the depth chart the position is wide open, but Rogers, Smith, and Bray seem to be the frontrunners. Rogers got some valuable first-team reps with Andrew Luck, while Tevaun Smith caught a key fourth down touchdown from Scott Tolzien on a quick slant. Rogers finished with five catches for 31 yards, Smith had two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown, and Bray had two catches for 22 yards. The leading receiver on the night, however? Phillip Dorsett, who caught three passes for 37 yards (which is nice to see).
- Scott Tolzien much better. Last week was a rough outing for Scott Tolzien as the Colts’ backup quarterback, but tonight was much better. He was 13 for 18 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown, looking much more in control of the offense and looking much more accurate.
- Stephen Morris poised again. Morris didn’t see as much playing time this week as he did a week ago, but he still did a good job with the reps he received and was very poised late in a close game - except for the crucial two-point conversion interception that was just a bad play and decision by Morris. Overall, though, he led a go-ahead touchdown drive and then later managed to get the Colts into “field goal range” (with some help from Ravens penalties) for Pat McAfee to get a 62-yard attempt. Morris was 7-for-11 for 66 yards and a touchdown and was the team’s leading rusher with a 26-yard rush tonight.
- Winston Guy interception. The Colts’ depth safety tonight made an interception, which is cool to see for a guy who has had a rough time recently, as his mother passed away earlier this month.
- Fullback dive to Robert Turbin again. Last week, the Colts lined Robert Turbin up as the fullback with Josh Ferguson as the running back on 3rd and 1, gave it to Turbin, and converted it. Tonight, the Colts did the exact same thing - making them two-for-two so far on that play. Because we’ve seen it twice now, it’s particularly interesting and worth filing away.
- Opportunities for younger defensive backs. With Vontae Davis and Darius Butler both sitting out tonight and with Patrick Robinson leaving early, there were plenty of opportunities for younger defensive backs to get reps and step up. Tay Glover-Wright and Tevin Mitchel saw a lot of reps early on as the outside corners, while D’Joun Smith also saw some playing time and worked some in the slot. Darius White saw action in the first half too, but it was far from the level of his performance last week - tonight was rough for him.
- Special teams impresses again. The Colts’ special teams played a key role tonight, as Adam Vinatieri hit two-of-three field goal attempts, Pat McAfee averaged 54 yards per punt, and the team got some nice returns from Chester Rogers, Quan Bray, Josh Ferguson, Jordan Todman, and Trey Williams. This would have been the biggest highlight from the game had McAfee hit his game-winning field goal attempt, but it fell short.