Peyton's Place: Not Where Baltimore Ravens Fans Want To Spend Wild Card Weekend

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Peyton's Place: Not Where Baltimore Ravens Fans Want To Spend Wild Card Weekend
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
If the Ravens travel to Indy again will Flacco leave happy

How big does that play call against the Steelers on Sunday night football look now Ravens fans? As a fan of the purple and black and knowing the ramifications today more than that night, I think I'm more disgusted about it today than I was when it happened.

Many will probably say there were many plays you could point to this season to say the Ravens cost themselves a shot at a division title and a bye. While true, none of them come to mind like this one does. Since then, the Ravens have yet to lose a game.

So for me it's the strip sack fumble by Troy Polamalu on 2nd-and-5 in Steelers’ territory with under three minutes to play that led to Pittsburgh's subsequent game-winning touchdown.  A touchdown that cost the Ravens a shot at the division and bye week, an unnecessary arrogant play call led to this moment. It was a passing play that should have been a run, killing the clock.

A bye week for a banged up and aging defense like the Ravens have would have been a nice thing to have for a Super Bowl run. 

SUPER BOWL?! SUPER BOWL (queue Jim Mora Sr.'s press conference voice)?! The Ravens if everything holds will have to travel to Indianapolis to play Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Regardless of the Colts' struggles this year, they should be favored to win the game and not just because it's in Indy.

Peyton Manning much like another nemesis from that Sunday night game in early December owns the Ravens. Manning may have struggled a time or two in 10 career games against the Ravens but, like Ben Roethlisberger, he always finds a way to beat Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

will the Ravens beat the Colts in Indy

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After losing his first two career games against Baltimore, Manning has won eight straight and hasn't lost since December of 2001 to the Ravens.

The Ravens are 2-8 against Peyton Manning, including the playoffs, as John Harbaugh's brother was the only other Colts QB to beat the Ravens. 

There has been a lot of heartbreak despite the fact that the regular season games haven't been all that close. Manning’s Colts have outscored Ray and company 213-145. Peyton and the Colts offense puts an average of almost 27 points per game on the board against this Ravens defense.

Keep in mind this Ravens defense has been a top-five defense for most of the outgoing decade. Manning always seems to find the weakness and when he can't the Ravens offense always shoots itself in the foot.

Take last year’s 17-15 loss in Baltimore. The Ravens had four red zone trips with no touchdowns. There was the heartbreak of Flacco's red zone INT to Gary Brackett, then the failed lateral of an Ed Reed interception that allowed the Colts to keep the ball late in the game.

Peyton Manning is 6-2 in eight regular season contests. He has 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Manning's QB rating is an unbelievable 106 against the Ravens defense in eight regular season contests.

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Five Colts field goals were more than enough in the January 2007 battle

If there is a glimmer of hope, it is in the postseason. Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense seem to win the battles but always end up losing the war.  Manning has just two touchdowns while throwing three interceptions, his rating is just a paltry 63.8 but his record is 2-0.

Back in the 2006 season, the Ravens thought they had their best chance to go back to the Super Bowl since winning it in 2000. They finished the regular season 13-3, won the division and earned a franchise first ever bye week.

Indianapolis defeated Kansas City in the wild card round the week before setting up a confident fan base and a Ravens team for a very long and hard fall.

What happened on that first Saturday in January of 2007 is still a talked about in and around Baltimore. The Colts came into Baltimore and stunned a Ravens team and the entire city of Baltimore by beating the Ravens 15-6.

Neither team scored a touchdown in the game. Five Adam Vinatieri field goals were enough to propel the Colts to victory. Indy would go onto win the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl V when they were the Baltimore Colts.

Leaving M & T Bank Stadium that Saturday evening, you could literally hear a pin drop as well as sniffles and tears.

This year’s Colts team is banged up and if the two teams should meet, the Ravens do have a real chance to beat them in Indy. The better QB statistically so far this year will not have a horseshoe on his helmet.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
A hard day for Ravens fans

Although Manning has thrown for more yards and TDs, he's had to with his mash unit offense. Manning does not have a better TD to INT ratio or a better passer rating than Ravens third-year signal caller Joe Flacco.

In fact, Flacco has already accomplished something Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have not: Flacco has led his team to the playoffs for each of his first three seasons in the NFL.  

Flacco will need to step up and make some big time throws if the Ravens are to beat the Colts on the road. Flacco did not do this in last year’s playoff game, which the Colts won 20-3. Flacco threw for 189 yards with two interceptions while Manning threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

There is still this Sunday to play and a lot can happen to prevent this match-up from occurring next weekend. The Colts have yet to clinch a spot and host the Tennessee Titans this Sunday while Jacksonville travels to play Houston.  A Jacksonville win and a Colts loss and it could be the Jaguars the Ravens play.

Not likely to happen since Jacksonville has to start former Bills QB Trent Edwards because starting QB David Garrard is out and I don't think Tennessee is going to beat Peyton Manning in Indy.

In what is a more likely but still highly improbable scenario, the Steelers could lose in Cleveland and if the Ravens win at home against Cincinnati the Ravens would win the division and get the bye.

Either way come playoff time the Colts will likely be an opponent and if John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis want to remove a monkey the size of a Mayflower truck off of their backs then they are going to have to beat the Indy Manning's.

Many fans will say bring on Indy, we have to beat them eventually. I'd rather skip them if we can and I'm sure deep down inside most die-hard Ravens fans feel the same way.

It will be mentioned sometime during the next few weeks that the Ravens are the first Baltimore team making a third straight trip to the playoffs for the first time since the Baltimore colts did it in 1975, '76 and '77.

As a Ravens fan I hope that stat is shown in the winning minutes of the fourth quarter as the cameras pan to show Ray Lewis giving John Harbaugh a Gatorade shower—a game that is being played at M&T Bank Stadium two and half weeks from now.  

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