BALTIMORE — Take a quick glance at the final boxscore of Monday night's showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens, and you'll see two quarterback performances more than worthy of primetime treatment.
For the Colts, Carson Wentz continued to take another step forward in his progression after some early-season bumps in the road, as he finished with single-game career-highs in passing yards (402), passer rating (128.5) and yards per pass attempt (11.49).
But after a quiet first half, it was Wentz's rival on the other sideline, Lamar Jackson, that stole the show — and, eventually, the ballgame.
Jackson finished the game with a Ravens franchise record 442 passing yards and four touchdowns, but more importantly, he led Baltimore back from a 19-point second-half deficit to force overtime, where the Ravens would drive right down the field on their one and only drive and get into the end zone to defeat the Colts, 31-25, at M&T Bank Stadium.
After the game, Wentz, understandably, wasn't focused one bit on his own impressive performance. Despite leading a Colts' offensive attack that, matched with some timely plays on defense, helped build a substantial lead on the road against one of the best teams in the league, Wentz was lamenting the fact that Indy's offense just couldn't do enough on its end to pull out a victory.
"Yeah, not a fun loss," Wentz said. "I talked to everyone after the game and said, 'Hey, we've got to have a killer instinct at the end of the day. And that goes for me and goes for all of us. We've got to be able to finish games and put teams away when we've got them on the ropes like that.' And, man, that's a good football team and a hostile environment for us to come out swinging the way we did. We just can't let up — we can't let up — and we've got to finish the game."
The Colts' offense, led by Wentz, was certainly clicking through the first three quarters of Monday's game, which started with a bang. Facing 3rd and 15 from his own 24-yard line Indy's opening drive, Wentz found running back Jonathan Taylor out in the flat to the left, and the second-year Wisconsin product did the rest from there, turning on the jets to leave the entire Ravens' defense in his dust for a 76-yard touchdown. That play was the longest receiving touchdown by a Colts player since T.Y. Hilton's 80-yard score in Week 9 of 2017, and the longest by an Indy running back since Marshall Faulk's 78-yard catch and score in Week 4 of the 1998 season.
Wentz and the Colts weren't done there, however. He finished the first half completing 14-of-21 passes for 189 yards and that aforementioned touchdown for a quarterback rating of 111.0, leading a balanced offensive attack that also featured some chunk plays in the run game from Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack.
Wentz was on fire coming out of halftime. In the third quarter alone, he completed 5-of-6 passes for 118 yards, and he connected with second-year wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. on a go-up-and-get-it 42-yard touchdown passing play on Indy's opening possession of the second half. On that play, Pittman Jr. was able to withstand being interfered with by Ravens' All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, doing whatever it took to get the football and then find a way to get it into the end zone.
By game's end, Wentz had thrown for the most passing yards by a Colts quarterback since Andrew Luck's 464-yard performance against the Houston Texans in Week 4 of the 2018 season. He also joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in franchise history to throw for at least 400 yards with a passer rating of 128.5 and a yards-per-attempt figure of 11.4 or better; Manning accomplished that feat twice — in Week 4 of the 2000 season, and Week 2 the following year.
But Wentz ultimately exited M&T Bank Stadium disappointed in the game's final result, as Jackson simply took over. The Colts' defense, worn down by injuries to its secondary, found it tough to stop the 2019 league MVP down the stretch; meanwhile, Indy's offense struggled to continue putting points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, despite some prime opportunities in Baltimore territory. The Colts (1-4) would have their final two drives end with two missed field goals — the first one of which was blocked, while the second one, a game-winning attempt from 47 yards out with four seconds left in regulation, missed wide left.
"I mean, you're feeling good, obviously. I mean especially offensively. … I thought we moved the ball really well offensively," Wentz said when asked what he was feeling when his team was up 19 points going into the fourth quarter. "And to be up in the fourth the way we were ... You know that we were confident in where we were, but that's why I say we've got to finish ball games. We can't ever relax. We can't ever rest in those moments. And that's all three phases. That's me, that's everybody. And, so this one, we will learn from."
Wentz and the Colts hope to bounce back in a major way on a short week, as they return home to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday to take on their division rival Houston Texans, who are also 1-4 on the season and coming off a hard-fought loss, 25-22, to the New England Patriots