When we think of Colts playoff games in the Manning era, we fall into two areas of thought.
One being the games that the Colts dominated. The wins over the Broncos in the early 2000s, the shootout against the Chiefs in 2004, the entire run in 2006, and the comeback win against the Jets in 2009.
The other being the soul crushing losses. All the one and dones including the 05 Steelers loss, the OT Dolphins loss, the Jets blowout, all the Patriots and Chargers games, and the Saints Super Bowl.
There are a few games that fall into the interim. Games that the Colts won, sometimes decisively, but just aren’t remembered.
My example for this is the 2009 Divisional Playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
There were plenty of story lines coming into this game. The Colts has thrown away a perfect season at home in Week 16 against the Jets. Would resting the starters come back to plague the Colts as it had (as many perceived at least) in past seasons? Was this a Colts team good enough to come out and win after almost 3 weeks of no real game action?
Then there were the Ravens. The sixth seed in the AFC and had to travel to Foxboro in the opening round. In that game, the Ravens proceeded to blow out New England, in New England, in the Wild Card. Would a Ravens team that crushed New England be able to do it again in Indianapolis?
In the first quarter, it seemed like it was possible as the Ravens held the high powered Colts offense in check. Billy Cundiff and Matt Stover traded field goals in the first frame, and that was it. 3-3 after one.
It stayed that way until Peyton Manning engineered an eight minute drive in the second quarter ending with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Austin Collie with two minutes to go in the half.
After three Joe Flacco incomplete passes, the Colts got the ball back with about a minute and thirty seconds left on the clock. Manning proceeded to march the Colts right back down the field, and tossed a three yard score to Reggie Wayne with six seconds left in the half.
In a two minute span it was from 3-3 to a 17-3 Colts advantage.
That was most of the scoring from there. Stover would add a field goal late in the fourth to make it 20-3, which would be the final. It was the lowest point total the Colts had allowed in the playoffs since the Baltimore Colts beat the Cleveland Browns by the same score in 1971.
But let’s talk about the Colts dominance in the game, especially on defense. They held the Ravens to 87 yards on the ground and 189 yards through the air. The Colts also forced four turnovers in the contest.
This was all on a day where the Colts offense was not at it’s best. Manning threw 44 times for only 246 yards, two scores, and a pick. The running game was worse. The Colts ran for 42 yards on 25 carries. Not good.
In all, it was a performance that, I would say, was better than the Divisional Round game against the Ravens in 2006. This one is a little more forgotten, probably because of the Super Bowl loss a few weeks later.