That is where their good fortune ended, however.
The Colts cannot afford to lose the turnover battle, and that was as evident as ever in this game.
What Went Right
The Colts defense played excellent for the majority of the game.
The Ravens could not get anything going in the first half, converting only four first downs. Even when the Ravens offense came out on fire to start the second half, Indy’s defense managed to force a turnover on the goal line which could have swung momentum in the Colts’ favor.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Regardless, the defense came into the game as the team’s strongest point, and after this performance, that still remains the case. The defense held the Ravens to 266 total yards and only 110 yards on the ground. That is nearly 70 yards fewer on the ground than the Ravens’ average.
The Colts defense did their job and slowed this talented Ravens offense down as long as they could.
What Went Wrong
The Colts offense, but more specifically, the offense’s turnovers.
The Colts had two turnovers on the day and both were significant.
The first came on a Jonathan Taylor run. Marcus Peters forced it out and Chuck Clark did the rest. He returned the ball to the end zone, and effectively killed all momentum the Colts had on offense. Taylor is a rookie and will continue to get better, but he cannot fumble the ball in that situation. The Ravens offense was unable to move the ball in the first half, and his fumble gave the Ravens life, turning a 7-0 game into a 7-7 game just like that.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh challenged the play on the field and the call was overturned from an incompletion to an interception. I don’t see how the officials were able to overturn that call, as it seemed Peters did not make a football move. But regardless, the result was an interception. This turnover was a death sentence for the Colts on the day. The Ravens marched down the field and finished with a Gus Edwards touchdown, taking a 14-10 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Colts shot themselves in the foot with two key turnovers. Anytime you turn the ball over, it’s a negative, but sometimes, you can get lucky and they won’t kill you.
Today was not that day, as both turnovers were crucial turning points in this game.
The Colts won almost every aspect of this game and still lost.
They outgained the Ravens, 339 to 266. The Colts ran for 112 yards to the Ravens’ 110. They passed for 227 and the Ravens passed for 156. The Colts averaged more yards per play, total plays, total drives, and had fewer penalties for fewer yards.
Almost every metric says that the Colts should have won this game, except for arguably the two most important ones: time of possession and the turnover battle.
The Colts are 4-0 when they win both the time of possession battle and the turnover battle. They’re 1-3 when they lose one or both.
Now, that is just a cherry-picked stat, because most of the time in games that you win, you’re going to have more time of possession than the other team. While this stat may not be showing you anything new, it at least shows the path for the Colts to win: don’t turn the ball over.
As good as this defense, Indy cannot overcome constantly losing the turnover battle, which we saw play out in this game.
(Featured Image Credit: Indianapolis Colts)