Winning a game usually means turning the ball over less than your opponent. The Indianapolis Colts took an alternative approach and still managed to beat the Baltimore Ravens 20-13 despite the mistakes from Andrew Luck and co. relying on an excellent defense to win for a third straight time.
Not that the Ravens were great. They turned the ball over three times, as Joe Flacco was intercepted once while Steve Smith and Jacoby Jones both had a fumble. The Ravens were held to just 287 yards on offense, averaging six yards per carry but staying away from the run because they were trailing for the entire game.
Last week felt like a turning point for the Colts. Not just this season, but for the organization as well. The conservative mind set on the offensive calls is disappearing, and Andrew Luck is getting to throw the ball a whole lot more. It means relying less on the run, but also creating a lot more openings for Ahmad Bradshaw and the struggling Trent Richardson.
Luck completed 32-of-49 passes but also got intercepted twice, with one of those interceptions coming inside the Baltimore 10. The Colts had a chance to finish off the game in the fourth quarter and score a touchdown with just over a minute remaining, but Bradshaw fumbled to ball to make it two turnovers for the Colts in the red zone. Not exactly the stat that makes it seem like there’s a win coming up.
Luck, as always, or almost always, was great in the fourth quarter after an inconsistent performance all game long. He completed 8-of-9 passes for 129 yards, including a perfect 4-for-4 for 107 yards on throws for 15 or more yards downfield. He was only 1-of-7 on such throws through the first three quarters, including 0-for-3 when targeting a receiver in the end zone.
Flacco struggled with 22-of-38 for 235 yards. He didn’t get much help from his offensive line, as he got sacked four times, more than in the previous four games combined. He was put under pressure on 26% of his dropbacks, completing just 14.3% of his passes when put in that position.
Two similar teams, with more than one or two parallel lines connecting them, now and in the distant past. But for now, at least at home, the Colts have a defense that’s good enough to keep them in a mistake-filled game like this one. But four turnovers a game and so many blown chances of finishing off a rival doing even worse than they are won’t always go unpunished. The Colts got away with one in this game, and the sooner they realize it the better for them heading into the rest of the season.