Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned: Colts vs. Ravens, Week 5

The Colts fell, 31-25, to the Baltimore Ravens in overtime on Monday Night Football in Week 5. Here are five big storylines we learned coming out of the game. 

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1. Carson Wentz had his best game with the Colts – again.

Wentz set a career highs with 402 passing yards and a passer rating of 128.5. Notable here are Wentz's top four passer ratings in his career:

Through the Colts' first four games, Wentz built a foundation of ball security — he had zero turnover-worthy plays, as graded by Pro Football Focus, entering Week 5. He had one against the Baltimore Ravens, which came when edge rusher Odafe Oweh blasted off the edge and forced a strip-sack in the first half. 

But the point is Wentz has taken good care of the ball, and on Monday, he made a number of the kind of big plays head coach Frank Reich saw him make up close in 2016 and 2017 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I thought he played really well," Reich said. "I thought that during the game but then watching the tape I think it was even better than I saw on the field. Really did a lot of good things. The play to (Michael) Pittman was a big, big-time league throw, guy in his face, they're in cover zero pressuring him. Pittman obviously makes an amazing play.

"Was good with the ball — beside the sack fumble, really played near-flawless in many respects. So the key is consistency. What we'll talk about is anybody can come in and play one great game, but now we gotta back it up."

It's a slippery slope to pick and choose on stats, but it's worth noting that Wentz's season-long numbers look like this when you take out his playing-on-two-sprained-ankles game in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans:

  • 94/136 (71 percent)
  • 1,128 yards (8.3 Y/A)
  • 7 TDs/1 INT
  • 108.3 passer rating

"No matter what the situation is he's frickin' playing balls out and he's just improving," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. "It's good to see. He's doing what we're asking of him and he's just getting better all around."

2. Rodrigo Blankenship is dealing with a hip issue.

Reich did not have an update Tuesday afternoon on Blankenship, who underwent an MRI earlier Tuesday to evaluate the hip issue the second-year kicker played with on Monday Night Football. 

Blankenship missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired. He also missed a PAT and had a field goal blocked, although he said after the game his hip did not impact him on the blocked kick.

"I guess it kind of felt like a stabbing pain," Blankenship said. "Every time I cocked my leg back to swing, and then when I would initiate my swing coming down, it was like a really sharp and intense kind of stabbing feeling in my hip."

Blankenship said the pain flared up during pregame warm-ups and he did whatever he could to try to minimize it throughout the evening. He also didn't use that stabbing pain as an excuse after the game.

"Regardless of what I've got going on," Blankenship said, "I've still got to hit the ball straight."

3. Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor looked like stars.

Michael Pittman's 42-yard touchdown was an incredible show of force by the second-year wide receiver, who went up and out-muscled Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett on a jump ball from Wentz. He finished with six receptions for 89 yards and is making the kind of physical, tough plays that set the tone for the Colts' offense (more on those later).

"When the ball's in the air," Brady said, "it's his."

Pittman, though five games, is on pace for 99 catches and 1,252 yards this season.

Taylor, too, ripped off that 76-yard touchdown on a screen pass and had a bruising 53 yards on 15 carries – which, thanks to his physicality, it felt like he had more rushing yards than that.

Each player's individual performances in their first Monday Night Football games were impressive, although neither were willing to rest on those accomplishments in a loss.

"I had a couple of opportunities to do a little bit more, and I just didn't do it," Pittman said.

"It's not the way you want your Monday night debut to go," Taylor said.

4. The Colts were extremely physical on offense.

The Colts averaged 3.4 yards after contact on their 25 rushing attempts, and 84 of Taylor, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines' 118 rushing yards came after contact. 

Pittman's one-for-the-You-Got-Mossed-reel touchdown was an exclamation point on the Colts' physicality on offense. And good, tough blocks by Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin helped spring Taylor's 76-yard touchdown.

"It's just now becoming a mentality of the entire offense," Brady said. "And one way to show it was against the Baltimore Ravens, who's known for that. And I thought we stepped up to the plate and we matched it." 

That style of hard-nosed, tough football from all 11 players on the field – Wentz, who's impressed teammates with his own toughness, included – is something the Colts feel they can build an offense around this year. 

"We know our up front guys are going to play like that," Reich said. "But when you get your skill guys bringing that physicality to it, that takes it to a new level. So I think we gotta continue to build on that."

5. The defense will go back to the drawing board.

Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus discussed what's next for the Colts' defense on Tuesday after Lamar Jackson completed 37/43 passes for 442 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 140.5 on Monday night.

"We just have to do better," Eberflus said. "We gotta do better as coaches, we gotta do a better job setting guys in position. We always do that when things don't work, that's what you do as a coach, how can I put my guys in a better position to make the plays they need to.

"We have tremendous talent on the field, I believe in our players, they do an outstanding job of working, their work ethic and what they did during the week was outstanding and you got a lot of playmakers out there from Darius to Buck to Kenny to a bunch of guys out there, everybody out there really is a playmaker but those guys are certainly that. We gotta do a better job as coaches putting them in better position."

Reich mentioned the Colts having some issues with two-minute, up-tempo drives, which cropped up last week against the Miami Dolphins and then this week against the Ravens, both in the fourth quarter. Finishing games will be a focus for the Colts' defense going forward – although one thing to watch is the team's depth at defensive end, which was depleted on Monday with Kwity Paye (hamstring) and Isaac Rochell (illness) out. Getting those guys back, Eberflus said, will help the Colts' rotation and will allow them to keep their defensive ends fresher throughout the game.

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