Entering Lucas Oil Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens traveled with excess baggage from last week, a devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In danger of losing ground in the AFC North, Baltimore would exorcise the demons of old, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 24-10.
This marks the first time the Ravens have won in Indianapolis in seven all-time attempts since the Colts’ relocation from Baltimore.
To accompany the milestone, this game marked the 31st consecutive game in which the Ravens scored 20+ points — the longest active streak in NFL history. Additionally, the victory marked the team’s first when trailing at halftime since 2018, having previously been 0-10 with a deficit.
AWAKENING THE SLEEPING (RAVEN)
To paraphrase head coach John Harbaugh, Week 9 represented the start of a new season for the Ravens. Yet, Baltimore began the game much as they had for much of 2020, with their offense in a slumber.
The Colts’ top-ranked defense lived up to its billing, stifling QB Lamar Jackson in the first half. Despite trailing early, the Ravens defense would one-up its counterpart, delivering points on a fumble returned for a touchdown by safety Chuck Clark.
Despite the defensive score, Baltimore’s offense failed to gain momentum, with the Ravens trailing at the half.
The third quarter began with promise, as Jackson led his team downfield with a faster tempo — until RB Gus Edwards fumbled in the red zone, deflating the Ravens’ optimism.
The Colts’ turnover was a virtual mulligan for Baltimore’s offense, sparking a methodical drive that was capped by a Gus Edwards score to erase his previous gaffe. Indianapolis was stymied in the second half, as the Ravens defense swarmed Rivers and his receivers for the remainder of the game.
Baltimore’s defenders wouldn’t concede another point in regulation, helping propel the team to 6-2.
With their line struggling, the Ravens’ stagnant offense needed a new angle.
Enter Lamar Jackson.
The reigning league MVP provided a spark with his improvisation, extending plays while handling poor snaps from an injured Matt Skura. Despite the overwrought play calling by Greg Roman in the first half, the embattled offensive coordinator found success in reverting back to last season’s masterful recipe: move the ball quickly, and dictate the tempo. The second half’s script lacked the chicanery of the first, but was all the better for it. Jackson was able to pick up the pace with quicker, shorter throws while manufacturing space when his pocket collapsed.
In short, the Ravens played faster, and didn’t sweat when a play was stopped short.
Resultingly, the Colts’ vaunted defense was unable to keep up, as the Ravens’ receivers kept finding small areas to operate. Jackson would hit seven different pass catchers, while dominating in time-of-possession.
It wasn’t pretty, but Jackson would account for 228 of the Ravens’ 266 offensive yards — second verse, same as the first.
Baltimore needed this victory badly, as a second-straight loss to a conference opponent would muddy the waters of playoff seeding in a pool of AFC contenders. At 6-2, they remain alive in the AFC North title race, and are healthily in control of their postseason destiny.
The Ravens remain on the road in Week 10, as they travel to face Cam Newton and the struggling New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Meanwhile, the 5-3 Colts have a short week, as they’ll pack their bags to visit the rival Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.
(Featured Image Credit: BaltimoreRavens.com)