After mighty Colts hit 21, Ravens decide to fold hand

ON THE RAVENS

Ravens Gameday

December 10, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

The magic number for the Indianapolis Colts was 21 last night.

When a team such as the Colts plays a team such as the Ravens this late in the season, the unwritten rule is that when you get ahead by 21, the other team pretty much shuts it down.

Once Joseph Addai scored on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to give Indianapolis a 21-0 lead with 4:05 left in the first quarter, it was over, and the Ravens started dropping like flies.

The Colts came into this game with something to prove, and they wanted to build momentum going into the playoffs.

The Ravens have nothing to prove, and they played like it. They played their Super Bowl against the Patriots last Monday night, and they looked like a tired, old football team.

They were embarrassed again last night on national television, and if they lose next week against the winless Miami Dolphins, then that's definitely a firing offense.

Right, owner Steve Bisciotti? Oh, he probably left at halftime to check out Maryland's basketball game against Boston College in College Park.

Questions at QB

There was slim hope that Kyle Boller would play well the remainder of the season, and at least be able to compete for the starting job next season.

But after a poor performance last night, you wonder what the Ravens are going to do about a quarterback for next season.

Do they draft one, sign a veteran free agent or trade for one? Do they allow rookie Troy Smith to have a legitimate shot at the starting job? Just as importantly, what do the Ravens do about this offense? Offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel hasn't had any luck finding a job in the college ranks. So do they hand him the play-calling duties, or do they try to bring in someone new? This team has its work cut out in the offseason.

Trouble tackling

A week ago, Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle was questioning if one of the officials had ever played in the NFL. He should have been questioning some of his teammates last night.

Among the worst was cornerback Derrick Martin, a second-year player out of Wyoming. That was a real lame effort when Martin tried to tackle Addai on Addai's 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It made me wonder if they play tackle or touch football at Wyoming.

Praying for help

It only took about three minutes for us to see why the Ravens haven't started second-year cornerback David Pittman this season.

Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez made two catches against Pittman, then burned him on a stop and go move for a 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

It's one thing to get faked out of your shoes, but Gonzalez lit up Pittman so badly that Pittman dropped to his hands and knees.

Maybe he was praying that it wouldn't happen again.

Dungy stays classy

Now you know why Colts coach Tony Dungy is well respected throughout the NFL.

He stopped attacking the Ravens' defense midway through the second period and was content running the ball. He even refused to use his timeouts late in the second quarter when the Ravens were buried deep in their own territory late in the first half.

If only New England coach Bill Belichick had half as much class. He would have gone for 60 points in the first half on the Ravens.

Cool in the pocket

One of the main things besides accuracy and competitiveness that separates the Patriots' Tom Brady and Manning from other NFL quarterbacks is their pocket awareness.

Very seldom do they get injured because few teams good clean shots on them. Brady and Manning aren't great athletes, but they know when and how to move in the pocket.

The Ravens got pressure on Manning several times last night, but he either moved out or stepped up in the pocket.

Learn to slide

After five years in the NFL, you would think Boller would learn how to get down and slide.

But a couple of times last night, he came close to getting crushed. Apparently, he hasn't learned yet.

It was interesting to note that of the few thousand fans left to watch the game in the fourth quarter, some of them started chanting for Smith.

Early exits

After Addai scored with 4:05 left in the first quarter to make the score 21-0, the rain started coming down, and you couldn't tell if the fans were leaving for cover or just leaving the stadium.

Question of the day: After the Ravens faced a big deficit, why did they keep using the play-action fake when everyone in the stadium knew they had to pass?

Can't hang on

McGahee and former starting running back Jamal Lewis, now with the Browns, have different styles, but they have one thing in common.

They appear to fumble a lot. McGahee fumbled for the fourth time last night, losing his third. This one resulted in a Colts touchdown.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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