After bad day on offense, Colts happy to escape with victory

AFC South leaders say interference call was right

Colts 22, Ravens 20

Nfl Week 6

October 14, 2002|By Tom James | Tom James,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

INDIANAPOLIS - It certainly wasn't pretty or artistic. But what it was - a come-from-behind, 22-20 victory by the Indianapolis Colts over the Ravens yesterday at the RCA Dome - proved that winning ugly has its advantages.

Mike Vanderjagt's fifth field goal of the game, a 38-yarder with four seconds remaining in regulation, lifted the Colts from what might have been one of their more lethargic offensive performances in recent years.

Still, as Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy was quick to point out, he'll take the win, which gives the AFC South-leading Colts a 4-1 record heading into next Monday night's game at Pittsburgh.

"I guess after a game like that, there's good news and then there's bad news," Dungy said. "We certainly didn't play well, but we fought hard and we were able to hang around there in the fourth quarter to pull it out.

"We didn't play as well as we could have, but we made enough plays down the stretch on both offense and defense to get the win. And that's the important thing."

The biggest play of the game came with the Colts trailing 20-19 with 1:14 remaining in the game. Facing a fourth-and-10 at his 36-yard line, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning scrambled out the pocket.

With Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware in his face, Manning sidearmed the ball toward the sideline in the direction of wide receiver Qadry Ismail, who was tightly covered by cornerback Gary Baxter. Baxter's back was to the play.

"I could tell that their guy wasn't looking at me," Manning said. "That's one thing that you always look for. You don't want to throw the ball when he's looking right at you. But he had his back turned trying to cover Qadry, so I just threw it up there and hoped that Q [Ismail] could make a play on it."

As Ismail jumped to try to make what would have been a tough catch, there was contact. A few seconds later, penalty flags were on the turf. The Ravens had been called for pass interference.

"I thought that it was a pretty easy call," Dungy said. "He [Baxter] had his back turned and they made contact before the pass was thrown. But I told [Ravens coach] Brian [Billick] afterward that was a tough way to lose a game, on a fourth-down pass interference call."

For Ismail, a former Ravens wide receiver, the play turned out just as he expected.

"Sometimes you have to be a good actor and then look at the ref," he said. "It was just one of those situations when, if you're not looking for the ball, I have the right to go up for the ball. If you push me away from the ball, then that's pass interference."

The play occurred on the Ravens' side of the field and virtually in front of Billick. It was Billick who brought Ismail to Baltimore in 1999, where he played for three highly productive seasons before coming to the Colts as an unrestricted free agent last spring.

"I knew he was there, but I couldn't really hear him, and I highly doubt that it would not be too good to quote him," Ismail said. "Let's just say that it was a big play in an important part of the game and leave it at that. And the fact that it came against the Ravens made it just a little bit sweeter, I guess."

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