ROOKIE SAFETY LEFEGED SPARKS COLTS – Undrafted rookie Joe Lefeged has seen action this season in the secondary and on return units. He is one of 22 Colts players who have played in each outing. Lefeged provided a pair of vital plays for the Colts on Sunday at Baltimore.
Lefeged has been the kick returner for the Colts the entire season, and he had his longest kickoff return of the year on Sunday with a 51-yarder in the second quarter.
The return gave the Colts field position at the Ravens 47-yard line, and was the longest kickoff return the team has had since the 2009 season. The return set up the Colts' longest drive of the afternoon in terms of possession time. Indianapolis used up more than six minutes of the clock moving into scoring position. Indianapolis drove to the four-yard line before kicker Adam Vinatieri hit a 22-yard field goal. The team had struggled with field position prior to the spark Lefeged provided.
For the game, Lefeged had four returns for 120 yards. It was his best return action of the season. The rookie has 27 kickoff returns for a 19.7 average for the season.
Lefeged also had the Colts' first takeaway on the afternoon when he picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone during the fourth quarter. Flacco was trying to find wide receiver Anquan Boldin near the end line when Lefeged made the interception.
"We were in cover-two man coverage and I was just reading the quarterback's eyes, and I got a good break on the ball," Lefeged said. "It was a little bit overthrown and I just made the play on it."
Lefeged is a part of a secondary that was without cornerback Terrence Johnson and Jerraud Powers, both of whom were placed on injured reserve this past week. The secondary has been decimated by injuries this season, and some of that has allowed Lefeged to find the field. He has one start this season among his 13 appearances, and he is one of a handful of first-year players who have made a debut this season for the Colts. In all, Indianapolis has been forced to start six different combinations in the secondary in 2011. The longest streak of consecutive starts by the same group is five games.
The Colts finished with two takeaways for the game, both coming in the final quarter. Baltimore was able to maintain possession for 36:08 of the contest, running 70 plays from scrimmage, including 37 rushing attempts.
"I think we came out a little bit slow today, especially on running the ball and it's just the small things that we have to get corrected," Lefeged said. "We'll look at the film tomorrow and see what went wrong and try to get it fixed for next game."
It was a return home for Lefeged. He is from Germantown, Maryland. Lefeged saw a familiar face across the field on Sunday in Ravens running back Ray Rice.
"I played with him in college, you know, he's a beast," Lefeged said. "He's a workhorse, catching the ball, running the ball, and he's a tough guy to stop."
The interception was Lefeged's second of the season. The Rutgers product had one interception against Pittsburgh. He has two of the team's six interceptions in 2011, tying Powers for the lead on the club. Lefeged also had a special teams tackle on Ravens return man Ed Reed.
COLTS WELCOME BACK TIGHT ENDS–* *After weeks where the tight end position was cobbled together mid-week, Dallas Clark and Brody Eldridge returned to the lineup against the Ravens.
Clark had missed the three previous games due to injury. He caught a critical fourth-and-three reception during the second quarter. The 12-yard catch by Clark kept the Colts' scoring drive alive as it led to the Vinatieri field goal.
Fellow tight end Anthony Hill has filled in without Clark and Eldridge in the lineup. Hill caught a pass for five yards on Sunday. Tight ends were targeted by quarterback Dan Orlovsky on eight of 37 attempts on Sunday.
The lone touchdown of the afternoon came from the tight end position when Jacob Tamme hauled in a 13-yard score as time expired. It was Tamme's fifth career scoring reception.
"Catching that pass was no consolation for me," Tamme said. "We just keep on playing until the game ends. We kept scratching and trying to get back in the game, but we couldn't get that done. I know that I've had a lot more touchdown catches that were much more exciting to me."
The Colts once again had to reshuffle their offensive line on Sunday as right guard Ryan Diem went down with a leg injury. Diem was able to return to the field after being out briefly.
Left guard Joe Reitz started the first seven games of the season. He returned from injury to appear on special teams last week against New England. Reitz filled in along the offensive line when Diem was out.
With three divisional games left to end the season, the Colts only have one thing on their mind down the stretch.
"I'm ready to win some games," Tamme said. "It's hard to put into words how frustrating this is for us. But we've got three games left, and we want to win all of them."