By David Schroeder
The Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens at home Sunday in a 20 to 13 victory that saw second year pass rusher Bjeorn Werner come alive. This was easily the best game of Werner’s young career and hopefully a glimpse into his future. Werner was all over Baltimore QB Joe Flacco. Werner had two sacks, four tackles, and one pass batted down. Defensive tackle Cory Redding and free safety Sergio Brown, in for suspended Laron Landry added a sack each.
The Colts defense looked very good Sunday in the secondary as well. Cornerback Vontate Davis held Steve Smith Sr. to five catches for 34 yards. This was only a week removed from Steve Smith’s huge game against Carolina when he went off for two touchdowns and 139 yards. Davis also had a big interception on a deep pass that was intended for Torrey Smith. The Ravens top receiver on the day was free agent acquisition Owen Daniels with 70 yards on five catches.The Colts defense has looked very good the past three games, but that doesn’t come without a catch. The defense also looked its best against perennial back up QBs in Charlie Whitehurst and Chad Henne. The Colts pass rush has also been nonexistent so far this season and wasn’t looking to improve with the news of Robert Mathis season-ending Achilles’ tendon tear. We saw the potential of Bjeron Werner Sunday, but he was rushing against an undrafted free agent rookie back-up left tackle in James Hurst. I don’t say that to detract from Werner’s day, because he played great, but to put some perspective on his performance. Werner has struggled from his first day as a Colt and hopefully today is a sign of things to come, but I’m not sold that this is his new normal yet.
Andrew Luck had a better day than his stat line would leave you to believe. Luck went 32 of 49 for 312 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Luck’s first interception came on 2nd and 14 when the Colts were driving into Baltimore territory. Luck took a big shot from Ravens linebacker CJ Mosley as he threw the ball which caused the pass to pop up in the air and fall into Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata’s hands. Luck’s second interception came in the fourth quarter in the red zone on a pass to running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw was covered well and the ball ended up being tipped and then intercepted by cornerback Terrence Brooks. Luck added a 14 yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter as well.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton led the Colts in receiving with nine catches for 90 yards. Reggie Wayne had seven catches for 77 yards, passing Cris Carter on the all-time career passing yards list. Tight end Dwayne Allen had four catches for 59 yards and one touchdown. Allen has four touchdowns on the season, more than his season best of three from his rookie year. Allen missed most of last year due to injury, but was expected to be a big contributor to the Colts once he was healthy. Going into this week Allen was tied for the fourth most touchdowns among tight ends in the NFL.
Colts running back Trent Richardson had one of his better days rushing for 37 yards on 9 attempts for an average of 4.1 YPC average. Ahmad Bradshaw added 68 yards on 15 carries for an average of 4.5 YPC. Something of note was that the Colts substituted Ahmad Bradshaw in for Richardson on every single 3rd down. Bradshaw has consistently outplayed Richardson this season and Pagano has repeatedly said that they play the hot hand at running back, but this was not playing the hot hand, this was clearly part of the game plan to exclusively use Bradshaw on 3rd down.
The Colts are now on a three game winning streak after losing their first two games. While two of their wins came against a very bad Jaguars team and a Charlie Whitehurst led Titans team, this win against the Ravens is one they should be proud of. The Ravens are a legitimate contender who should compete against the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North division title. After almost making a comeback against the Denver Broncos, and then blowing a lead to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, this is the kind of win that helps build a teams confidence. The Colts were heavily viewed by many before the season as a true Super Bowl contender and with more wins like today, those views will be validated.
On the Ravens’ side of the ball, Joe Flacco went 22of 38 for 235 yards, one interception, and zero touchdowns. Flacco was constantly under duress from the Colts pass rush and rarely was able to stand still in the pocket and deliver a pass. Running back Justin Forsett led the ground game with 42 yards and a touchdown on 6 carries. Forsett added 55 yards receiving on 7 catches giving him the most receptions and second most receiving yards on the Ravens. Linebacker Pernell McPhee notched the Ravens lone sack.