INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts fell to 5-3 on the year Sunday with their 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in their 2020 Week 9 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts, thanks in large part to a dominating defensive showing, went into halftime leading 10-7 and then got a huge takeaway on a goal-to-go play by the Ravens on their opening drive of the third quarter, but quarterback Philip Rivers would toss a (what some might consider controversial) interception on the very next play, and Indy couldn't catch up from there, as Baltimore would go on a 17-0 run the rest of the way to earn its first ever victory in Indianapolis.
"Tough loss against a good football team," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "We went in with a lead at halftime and came out and did not start well in the second half, and then they got it going a little bit, their offense got it going a little bit, which we expected. They have good players."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Sunday's loss to the Ravens:
» SUFFOCATING START: The Colts' defense knew its hands were going to be full heading into Sunday's matchup against the Ravens and their No. 1-ranked rushing attack. With speedy quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning league MVP, running the show, the Ravens utilize all sorts of formations, schemes and motions, and have been extremely successful running the ball for the better part of the last couple years. But Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and his staff prepared an excellent gameplan coming into Sunday's game, and the players executed that plan to near perfection over the first half, as the Ravens would collect just 18 rushing yards on 10 total carries in the first two quarters (1.8 avg.), including four carries for 15 yards for Jackson. In fact, the Ravens' 55 total net yards in the first half were the fewest for a Colts opponent since allowing 27 yards in the first two quarters against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 of the 2014 season. Baltimore was able to find a little bit more success in the second half, but still finished with 38 rushing attempts for 110 yards (2.9 avg.), almost 70 rushing yards and 2.6 yards per carry shy of their season averages heading into the game. "We played assignment football," Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said of Indy's defensive effort in the first half. "Everybody has an assignment, especially in the option game. If you have the dive, take the dive. If you have the quarterback, get the quarterback. Guys just have to play hard and win their individual battles."
» GIVETH, TAKETH: The Colts, who went into halftime with a 10-7 lead on Sunday, were able to carry that first-half defensive momentum early into the third quarter, as Buckner stripped Ravens running back Gus Edwards on a 1st-and-Goal run, which was eventually recovered by linebacker Bobby Okereke and returned to the Indianapolis 23-yard line. On the very next play, quarterback Philip Rivers threw deep down the right sideline towards wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who seemingly was able to knock a would-be interception out of the hands of cornerback Marcus Peters as he fell to the turf for an incomplete pass. Or so the Colts thought. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh challenged the ruling on the field, believing Peters not only intercepted the pass, but that he also fumbled the ball, which was recovered by safety Chuck Clark at the Baltimore 46-yard line. After review, the officials agreed with Harbaugh's assertion, giving the ball right back to Baltimore. Ten plays later, Edwards was able to punch it into the end zone from one yard out, giving the Ravens a 14-10 lead, their first of the ballgame. Indy couldn't ever really recover from there, and Baltimore, which eventually wore down the Indy defense and put the clamps down on the Colts' offense, would close the game on a 17-0 run. "In the second half, both sides of the ball weren't good enough," Reich said. "The end of the story was, in the second half as a team we were not good enough against a team you have to play a full 60 minutes."
» OFFENSIVE INCONSISTENCIES: The Colts had put together two straight solid performances on offense heading into Sunday's game against the Ravens, particularly in the passing game. In Weeks 6 and 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, respectively, quarterback Philip Rivers completed 52-of-77 passes (67.5 percent) for 633 yards with six touchdowns to one interception for a QB rating of 113.2; his yards-per-attempt figure in those games, meanwhile, was 8.2. On Sunday against the Ravens, however, the Colts could never consistently move the ball. While Indy had 339 net yards of offense and averaged 5.3 yards per carry on the ground, the team struggled on third downs (2-of-12 conversions, or 17 percent), converted just 2-of-4 tries on fourth down, had two turnovers that led directly to Ravens touchdowns and, (no) thanks to the aforementioned interception, would net just one yard on four offensive plays in the entire third quarter. Rivers, in all, completed 25-of-43 passes (58.1 percent) for 227 yards with no touchdowns and a pick for a QB rating of 62.8. "it wasn't our best day, but it wasn't a terrible day," Rivers said. "We were rolling pretty good in the first half. Any time you turn it over and they score with it and then you throw an interception to start the third quarter after the defense gets a turnover, we just couldn't overcome those."
» SHORT MEMORY: Sometimes the best part about a tough loss — and even some satisfying wins — is the chance to immediately turn the page and focus on your next opponent. The Colts have no choice but to employ that very strategy, however, because they are taking on their next opponent, the AFC South Division-leading Tennessee Titans, in just four days. The Colts on Thursday night travel to Nashville to take on the Titans, who on Sunday improved to 6-2 on the season by defeating the Chicago Bears, 24-17. Offensively, the Titans do a terrific job taking care of the football (just seven turnovers all year) and protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill (12 sacks allowed); defensively Tennessee is very active, as they bat lots of passes (nine) and force a lot of fumbles (13) and interceptions (10). "(The) good news is we play Thursday night," Reich said. "We'll learn from this. Obviously, we have to watch the film to detail it out more, but just more conviction that I have that we have the right guys to go where we want to go. We'll look forward to getting this out of our system really quick and get ready for Thursday night."
» NOTES OF INTEREST:
— Indianapolis registered 9.0 tackles for loss for the second straight game. They are one of two teams to have at least 9.0 tackles for loss in back-to-back games (Pittsburgh) this season.
— Darius Leonard's 13 solo tackles are tied for the second-most in a single game since 2018. He is the only person who has had more in a game during that time frame, when he had 15 at Washington on Sept. 16, 2018.
Click here to check out more stats and notes from Sunday's loss to the Ravens, courtesy of Colts Communications.
See all the action on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as the Indianapolis Colts take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9.
Colts fans can catch the re-air of Sunday's Week 9 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens on WTTV4.2 this Wednesday at 8pm presented by POWERHOME SOLAR.