Thrashing of terrible Colts team offers few lessons for Ravens

It's hard to tell much after Ravens wallop a Colts team that appears to have given up

December 11, 2011|Mike Preston

The Ravens trounced the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, and there are indications they are peaking, but it is hard to tell.

You like what you saw out of them. They had balance on an offense that produced 146 yards rushing and 227 passing. The Ravens' defense physically dominated the Colts up front with four sacks, while holding Indianapolis to 167 yards of total offense.

But here's the rub: The Colts are terrible. They are pathetic and one of the worst teams in NFL history, including some of those from Cincinnati. Upon further review, the league needs to watch film of the Colts to determine if they are playing this poorly just to obtain Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as the No. 1 overall pick.

It's great to see that the Ravens came out and took care of business for the second straight week against a subpar team. That is no longer an issue like it was a month ago. At this point of the season, good teams like the Ravens make bad teams like the Colts look even worse.

So, at this point, the Ravens have a four-game winning streak and could be putting together an impressive win streak, which is almost required at this time of the season if a team wants to be a serious contender.

"Obviously, we're happy with a victory and we're pleased with where we are as far as 10 wins," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. "We are in December football, and that's what counts."

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said: "Yeah, this is definitely the time you want to hit your stride. Teams that do well in the playoffs usually hit their peak in December. We're on a little roll right now, but it doesn't mean anything unless we go out to San Diego and play well.

"We've never been this balanced before with the ability to run and throw the football. And that makes us a very dangerous team."

No heart

The Colts quit because they no longer have any heart.

The Ravens receivers made it look like a seven-on-seven passing drill and they had to be laughing about all those 10- to 12-yard comeback routs. Indianapolis was so bad that even when they went to nickel or dime coverage, they often forgot to cover running back Ray Rice.

How can you not cover the other team's top offensive star?

On defense, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and end Cory Redding beat right guard Ryan Diem and right tackle Jeff Linkenbach consistently. Indianapolis was so unorganized they appeared to forget the snap count several times.

"Losing sucks, no matter what the score is," said Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky. "If it's football, rock, paper [scissors]. None of us like to lose. There is nothing fun about losing."

Should it count?

Ravens officials pointed out they have scored 10 touchdowns on 17 red zone trips during the last five games.

I pointed out that they were 3-of- 4 against the Colts, which helped their percentage, and I don't count the Colts as a real team.

"It's something that we can definitely get better at and it goes back to our overall killer instinct," said Ravens center Matt Birk. "When we get teams down, we have to put them away."

No boogie

As the music blares during timeouts, Ravens defensive players love to dance, except for Johnson. He's not into busting moves.

"I don't have any moves," said Johnson. "It's not my style. People always say, 'Why don't you try to be cooler?' If I tried to dance, it would be so uncool. So, I'm being cool by being uncool, if you know what I mean."

That's speed

There is fast and then there is Torrey Smith fast.

There are times when the Ravens rookie receiver blows by cornerbacks and he looks like he is jogging. But late in the second quarter Smith showed that he had another gear.

He couldn't hold onto the long Flacco pass, but when it left Flacco's hands, the ball appeared to be overthrown by 10 to 15 yards. Smith, though, put it in overdrive and almost made the catch.

It's one of the few times that Smith actually looked like he was trying to run fast.

An old visitor

Former Ravens head coach Ted Marchibroda was on the field before the game, and Marchibroda looked good. I always thought he got a bad deal here with the Ravens.

He was hired to bridge the gap between the old Colts fans and the new Ravens supporters. Unfortunately, the Ravens came to town with virtually no cash and Marchibroda had almost no chance of succeeding, especially with the lack of big name talent on defense.

Good plan

The Ravens seemed to have found something special with reserve safety Haruki Nakamura playing as an up back on punts returns with Lardarius Webb.

The Ravens have done it for three straight weeks because teams have been kicking away from Webb. Nakamura continues to make one of the key blocks to spring Webb. In previous games, Nakamura was one of the players on the outside responsible for slowing down the other team's gunners.

Hanging on

With 2 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game and trailing 24-3, Indianapolis head coach Jim Caldwell was still calling timeouts.

Why?

As one of our colleagues in the press box suggested, maybe he was trying to extend his head coaching career.

Big hit

Hardest hit of the day belonged to Colts linebacker Kavell Conner, who stuck fullback Vonta Leach on Rice's 6 yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Conner pancaked Leach in an extremely violent collision.

Reverse it

Uh-oh. The Ravens ran the famed reverse Sunday and Smith gained 16 yards. That means the play is here to stay even if the Ravens don't gain a positive yard on it for the rest of the season.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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