INDIANAPOLIS – All season long it had been the Colts carving out drives with "chunk" plays.
Indianapolis entered Sunday's AFC Wild Card matchup with Baltimore leading the AFC with 65 passes of at least 20 yards this season.
But on Sunday, those chunk plays were absent and instead it was the Ravens who showed their big-play ability.
Baltimore had four plays of at least 43 yards on Sunday. That led directly to 21 points as the Ravens defeated the Colts, 24-9, at M&T Bank Stadium.
"The big plays, they got a few in the run game when we had it calmed down. The pass game, the shots that they got, the chunk plays just breaks your back," Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said on post-game radio.
The Colts did not have a play exceeding 25 yards on the afternoon, and the lack of converting trips in Baltimore territory into touchdowns plagued the offense.
"We didn't execute at a high enough level," tight end Dwayne Allen said. "My hat goes off to Baltimore because they played their butts off.
"Not to discredit them, but we shot ourselves in the foot. They were able to capitalize on our mistakes and were able to win the game."
A 52-yard field goal at the halftime gun by kicker Adam Vinatieri brought the Colts to within 10-6.
The teams traded punts on the first two possessions of the second half before the Ravens struck with quarterback Joe Flacco finding tight end Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard touchdown.
Down 17-6, the Colts brought the lead back to one possession with a 15-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Vinatieri hitting a 26-yard field goal.
Looking for another fourth-quarter comeback, the Colts attempt at yet another one went begging after a missed field goal with 11:44 remaining.
The Ravens took advantage with Flacco throwing his second touchdown pass on the following possession, and the Colts' final two drives ended with an interception and a turnover-on-downs.
"The feeling standing on the field watching the other team take three knees to end the game is a feeling that I will remember for the rest of my life, and definitely for this offseason," Allen, who caught four passes for 51 yards on Sunday, said.
"It's going to fuel me and my teammates for next season."
Sunday's experience was the first of what Allen hopes is many of playing in the NFL playoffs.
Yes, the outcome was not what Allen or any of his teammates wanted but down the road, they will look back on just how special this season was for a team picked in the preseason to be sitting at home during the first week of January.
"There's no moral victories," Allen said. "We didn't do what was necessary to win the game today and that's all that matters. I doubt I'm going to take time to reflect on the season that we had, though it was a good one. I'm onto the next."