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Highlights from week nine: Colts vs. Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

The Colts entered this game as one point underdogs to the visiting Baltimore Ravens. They ended up losing by 14. There were issues to be sure but for large swaths of the game the Colts defense played like an elite unit.

Ultimately this game felt like it swayed on two plays, both ruled turnovers. One was obviously a turnover, the other was by my estimation a terrible call that was overturned on a Ravens challenge.


First Quarter

The first half was a lot of fun

Darius Leonard was everywhere this week. It’s always a bad idea to try to leave your feet with 53 staring you down.

No room to run

Coming into this game the Ravens offense had rushed for more yards than anyone. The Colts came out and completely shut them down. It was a dominating performance and it was great to see.

Rookies contributing

Michael Pittman Jr. had a productive day and if nothing else on offense interested you, taking note of Pittman’s catches and how often Philip Rivers looked his way seems like a positive thing going forward.

More rookie action

Six points is six points and Jonathan Taylor made it happen here.

And then he lost it here

Look, I know Jonathan Taylor has had a rough start to his career. I know you’ve got to hold on to the ball. But this Ravens defense is the best defense I’ve seen this year at swiping at the ball. They hold guys up and rip at it like no one else. Who knows what would have happened if he had held on, the game probably ends much differently, but I’m not going to kill a rookie for losing a fumble to this defense.

Some warranted criticism

The Ravens linebackers have struggled in coverage this year, Nyheim Hines was coming off of a massive game a week ago and Frank Reich didn’t seem to have anything after this screen dialed up for the quick back from N.C. State.

The end around was working

DeMichael Harris’s performance was another encouraging one for the offense moving forward. He gives the offense an element of speed they otherwise lack.


Second Quarter

Defense still dominant

The Colts front seven can hang with anyone.

Getting after it

Al-Quadin Muhammad chased down Lamar Jackson and brought him down for a sack. It was a great play for the defense.

More rookie production

I’ve already talked about Pittman but he just kept getting chances.

Sure seemed like this should have gotten a call

Jack Doyle left the game with a concussion and obviously didn’t return. Given the fact that the Colts play on Thursday night means that Doyle will most likely miss an important divisional game as well.

Points

I didn’t think these would be the last points the Colts would score today but that’s how it worked out.

Sacks on sacks

Denico Autry was able to hang in and get the sack when Jackson looked like he was going to try to scramble.


Third Quarter

With the Ravens offense driving

The Ravens offense came out and looked like they realized they weren’t going to get anywhere with the ground game. So they started using play action, getting Lamar Jackson on the move and completing short quick passes and the Colts defense was slow to adjust.

Here DeForrest Buckner breaks through and punches this ball out, the Colts recover and set up the offense with a great opportunity to start out the half with a score.

Then, this happened

The call on the field was an incomplete pass. The Ravens challenged the call on the field, claiming that it was an interception, a fumble and a clear recovery by the defense. Given that there needs to be irrefutable evidence to overturn a call and the replays offered nothing remotely close to irrefutable evidence, it was assumed the call on the field would stand.

Instead

They overturned the call, to everyone’s amazement. This explanation that NFL Officiating released did nothing to explain how this was enough to overturn a call.

After this moment, the game just felt different.

The Ravens went 50 yards and took almost 6 minutes off the clock

The Colts defense was completely exhausted at this point.

Leonard might end up on the injury report this week

In what sure seemed like a dirty play a Ravens tight end cut blocked Darius Leonard four to five yards down field. Leonard left the game temporarily and when he returned he didn’t look the same.


Fourth Quarter

The game was already over

The dam that was the Colts defense finally gave way after spending all day on the field.

Finding fourth quarter “highlights” was a challenge

No running back was able to get going but Jordan Wilkins found 11 yards on this first down run.

Rivers running around like a 48 year old construction worker

Michael Pittman Jr. came up with a big play on third and nine to keep the chains moving and give the Colts hope.

Another disappointment

The Colts offense didn’t do enough to win the game, obviously. And had they been ahead I probably wouldn’t have posted this clip at all but the officiating was consistently bad all day, so in the article this clip goes. You can’t rely on the officials to bail you out but you hope you can get some kind of call in your favor.

Most exciting play of the fourth quarter

Isaiah Rodgers return was fun to watch, unlike the rest of this half.


Final Thoughts For The Week

The Colts offense absolutely deserves blame for this weeks loss. They failed to score points when they had the ball. But I saw a lot of fans saying that the offense played terribly that’s just not true.

The offense looked to have a ton of momentum in the first half before a Jonathan Taylor fumble (that was forced by a defense focused on stripping the football). After that play they never regained that momentum.

In the second half, their first possession ended after one play and a terrible overturned challenge that will no doubt be discussed endlessly this week. After that the Colts had one possession flame out (which isn’t great but every now and then you have to punt in the NFL) before driving the ball down the field only to turn it over on downs after failing to convert deep on their opponents side of the field.

It wasn’t a great offensive showing but any stretch but it was hardly terrible. The second half was the perfect storm of suck for an offense. A good Ravens drive ended by a forced fumble, only to “turn the ball over” on the very next play and then have an elite Colts defense unable to get the opponent off of the field, resulted in a huge lack of opportunity.

Yes, they should be criticized for not making the most of the chances they did manage to get, but at some level offenses rely on rhythm and the Colts never had a chance to get anything going.

No matter what we think of this team or this game, the Colts play again in four days. It’s time to focus on the Tennessee Titans.