Colts- 9, Ravens- 24
The Indianapolis Colts miracle season ended this afternoon as they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts failed to make plays in all three phases of the game, the direct opposite of last week's big win over Houston.
For the Colts, the win is a big wake up call to the front office that upgrades are desperately needed in all areas of the roster. A few key areas that need focusing on in the offseason are offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, and defensive secondary, all of which failed in key moments throughout today's game.
On the other sideline, the Ravens earned their leader a final playoff win, as Ray Lewis finished his final game in Baltimore on the field in the victory formation. The Ravens will travel to Denver next week as Lewis will face off against a familiar foe: Peyton Manning. Baltimore has been given little chance against a Denver team that dominated them a few weeks ago, but Lewis knows Manning better than any middle linebacker in the league.
Luck could not overcome the lack of offensive help against the Ravens.
Andrew Luck: B+
Luck looked a little shaky near the beginning of the game, but settled down and performed well throughout the game. Luck had as little help from his offense as you’ll see, as he was constantly hit, hurried, and knocked down. Nevertheless, he managed to adjust to the pressure and put together a pretty good game. He used his legs to extend plays, gain first downs, and avoid sacks. When given time he threw very accurately down the middle of the field, connecting with Reggie Wayne on numerous occasions.
The game itself was a pretty accurate picture of this season, as an actual very good game from Luck was wiped out by numerous drops, a terrible performance from the offensive line, and bad field position.
Ballard started out well, but as the game went on, he slowed.
Vick Ballard: C-
Ballard started the game out well in the first half, as he created yards behind a questionable offensive line. But, as the game wore on, he began to find those holes less and less, and consistently got stood up for minimal gains, or even losses. Ballard also was horrendous in pass protection, which led to multiple sacks. Ballard's drop on fourth down in the fourth quarter officially ended any chances the Colts had.
T.Y. Hilton made a big play, but also had four drops.
Reggie Wayne: B-
Wayne was the best receiver on the Colts today, but it was a below average performance for him, as he missed several catchable balls, none bigger than the third down in the redzone in the third quarter. Wayne dominated for a small stretch, but it wasn’t as long of a stretch as we’ve seen in the season. He finished with nine catches for 114 yards and is now second on the list of WRs with the most catches in playoff history.
Donnie Avery: D+
Avery finished with just two catches for 12 yards, although he did add a 15 yard run to start the game. But Avery had eight targets, and dropped about four for the game. The game hopefully is a wake up call for the front office that the team needs a true number two wideout.
T.Y. Hilton: C+
Hilton finished with eight catches, but just 66 yards for the game. Hilton made a huge 25-yard catch at the end of the first half to get the Colts into field goal range, but he also dropped four passes on the day, and cost the Colts several first downs.
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen have both lived up to, if not passed, expectations for their rookie year.
Fourth Quarter: D+
While Luck was sensational, the rest of the offense truly dropped the ball throughout the fourth quarter (no pun intended). Whether it was Dwayne Allen or T.Y. Hilton falling down on key third downs, Donnie Avery dropping a key pass, or normally stout left tackle Anthony Castonzo getting blown away by Paul Kruger, the Colts’ entire offense seemed to have at least one awful play by the time the quarter was done.
Third Quarter: C+
The offensive line continues to struggle, as today has been even worse than usual, or so it seems. Bradley Sowell didn’t look awful in the first half, but Paul Kruger started dominating him in the third when the Colts didn’t help Sowell. The running game started to get some yards again in the third, until the Colts went with Mewelde Moore in the redzone (much like in their Week 15 loss to the Texans).
Second Quarter: C+
The pass protection has been even worse in the second quarter, with Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn struggling to get a push in the run game as well. Vick Ballard hasn’t been able to find the seams as easily in this quarter, and has taken to dancing in the backfield as a result. T.Y. Hilton also contributed a key drop on third down in the quarter, but made up for it with a huge 25-yard catch to get the Colts in field goal position at the end of the half.
First Quarter: C
The Colts started out well with a long reverse to Donnie Avery, but followed it up with two straight screen passes, setting them up with 3rd and long. The Ravens are bringing the blitz on every third down so far, which the offensive line has struggled to protect against. Making matters worse, starting right tackle Winston Justice has been replaced by Bradley Sowell (injury unknown), and backup right guard Jeff Linkenbach (starting due to injury to Joe Reitz) has left the game with a shoulder injury.
Anthony Castonzo: C-
Castonzo has been solid through the second half of the season, bu he struggled today, as he allowed at least one sack, and several hits on Andrew Luck. Paul Kruger made him look especially inadequate, beating him quickly with a swat and inside move.
Jeff Linkenbach: C
Out of all of the linemen, Linkenbach seemed to show up the least in a negative light. Certainly wasn't a great game for him, but he wasn't overwhelmed like we saw from the other side of the line.
Samson Satele: D+
Satele replaced A.Q. Shipley after being out with an injury for a few weeks, but looked worse than Shipley has. Satele was consistently pushed back by Haloti Ngata, and also contributed a bad snap that directly led to a sack on Luck.
Mike McGlynn: D
After a decent performance last week against J.J. Watt, McGlynn was dominated early and often in this one. Luck escaped enough that McGlynn didn't get credited with sacks, but McGlynn was pushed back on nearly every passing play, allowing the pocket to collapse more often than not.
Bradley Sowell: D
Sowell took over for Winston Justice in the first half, and proceeded to have a decent start. But he fell apart in the second half, as Paul Kruger began to dominate Sowell whenever the Colts didn't shade a running back or tight end to his side.
Redding had a couple impact plays, but got pushed off the line too often.
Cory Redding: C
Redding made a few big impact plays, and made seven tackles on the day, a very high number for a defensive lineman. But Redding still lost ground far too often in the run game, and didn't offer anything in pass rush all game.
Antonio Johnson: D+
Johnson managed two tackles on the day, but allowed the Ravens to burst up the middle for 5-6 yards far too many times. His inability to take care of the middle helped allow the Ravens' running backs to run for over 170 yards, and he didn't get near Flacco in the passing game all day.
Ricardo Mathews: C-
Mathews didn't register a tackle on the day, and outside of getting a little bit of pressure on Flacco throughout the game, didn't offer any impact plays.
Pat Angerer has struggled to stop the run in recent weeks.
Jerrell Freeman: C-
Freeman managed just four tackles on the day, the lowest total he's had since a win in Jacksonville in Week 10. Freeman got caught behind linemen and Vonta Leach in the run game far too often.
Pat Angerer: C
Angerer was supposed to be replaced by Kavell Conner today, but Conner was very limited, and didn't get in the game on a substantial basis. Angerer made a couple of run stops, and finished with six tackles. Unfortunately, Angerer will likely be remembered for failing to stop Vonta Leach on a dive play in the first half.
Robert Mathis: B
Mathis finished with five tackles and a sack, but played very well for a good stretch of the game. Mathis got pressure on Flacco with ease for a stretch in the third quarter, dominating Michael Oher.
Dwight Freeney: C+
Freeney didn't get on the official stat sheet, but he did help contribute on a couple of run stops by holding the edge effectively. Unfortunately, he didn't do it consistently, allowing the Raven's running backs to bounce a few outside for big gains.
The Colts' defensive backs looked like we thought they were today.
Vontae Davis: A-
Davis did drop one pick that he should have held onto, but he did have three passes defended, and didn't allow any completions that I remember in the game. He largely shut down his side of the field.
Cassius Vaughn: D
Vaughn allowed Anquan Boldin to eat him alive in the second half, leading to most of the offensive success for the Ravens as Joe Flacco simply threw it up to Boldin and let him come down with it. Like Avery, this game should wake up the front office into knowing they need a new starting cornerback.
Antoine Bethea: C-
Bethea has had a down season, and this game was a good indicator of that. Bethea missed several tackles (although he still managed 10), and allowed a huge conversion through the air on 3rd-and-19 in the third quarter.
Tom Zbikowski: D
Zbikowski was awful before being replaced by Joe Lefeged, especially on Ray Rice's 47-yard screen pass to set up a touchdown in the first half. "Zibby" got juked by Rice, and then visibly gave up on the play, while LB Moise Fokou ran past him and ran down Rice.
The tag team of Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee has been pretty good over this last half of the season.
Pat McAfee: C+
McAfee struggled in the first half, outkicking his coverage and kicking low punts. He settled down in the second half, but didn't get as many chances to make up for it either.
Adam Vinatieri: B
Vinatieri hit three field goals, including his playoff long with a 52-yarder. However, he also missed a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter.
The Colts' special teams coverage has been pretty good for most of the season, but allowed both big kickoff and punt returns (37 and 34 yarders) on a day when the Colts needed good performances from all phases of the game.
Chuck Pagano: C-
The Colts' weathered the Ravens' emotional surge in the beginning of the game, which can be attributed to the coaching. However, there were several questionable decisions by Pagano in the game. One was an ill-advised challenge on a dropped ball by Donnie Avery, costing them a touchdown. Another was taking the opening kickoff. Finally, the conservative calls in Washington territory cost the Colts some points.
Clyde Christensen: C+
For the most part, I liked Christensen's playcalling for most of the game. It was balanced, it worked to move the ball, etc. But, the Colts' fell apart in the red zone far too often, and some silly calls in the fourth quarter (passing twice in a row with one yard to go) killed the Colts' chances in this one.
Greg Manusky: C
Manusky failed to dial up any pressure on Joe Flacco throughout this one, and still managed to allow over 170 yards on the ground. Yes, the Colts' have little talent on the defense, but Manusky had to do something to make Flacco uncomfortable in the second half, and he didn't.