The final score might read as a blowout win for the playoff savy Baltimore Ravens over the young, upstart Indianapolis Colts, but this game was far from that.
Both teams provided plenty of plays and miscues that will be talked about for days. The clock may have struck midnight to end the Colts fairytale season, but Football Nation will still reward the good, the bad and the ugly for this playoff encounter.
The Good: The Ravens Defense
I’m going to use an old sports cliché to describe the play of the Ravens defense, as they were a cohesive unit on Sunday afternoon.
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger couldn’t be blocked from the outside and repeatedly created havoc in the backfield. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck quickly learned that making mistakes against this emotionally-charged defense would prove to be costly. Continually, the Ravens defense made critical stops late in the fourth quarter that helped seal a win for their leader, Ray Lewis, in the final home game of his career.
The Bad: The Colts Secondary
First off, we have to congratulate the Indianapolis Colts on a great season. But, they have only turned it around offensively, as their struggles in defending the pass was again exploited by an opposing quarterback in another bitter defeat.
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn was horrible in pass coverage, as he was either getting beaten deep downfield or being called for pass inference. Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin recaptured his youth by out-leaping defenders for quarterback Joe Flacco’s jump ball passes. The outcome of this game confirms that changes must be made to the secondary in the offseason.
The Ugly: Ray Rice’s fumbles
The only blemish on a good offensive performance for the Ravens was the two fumbles by star running back Ray Rice, who hadn’t turned the ball over yet this season.
Thankfully, backup tailback Bernard Pierce provided a spark to the running game by rushing for 103 yards in the win. He’s been terrific in the latter part of the season, and could give head coach John Harbaugh an excuse to make a lineup change if Rice continues to struggle with holding on to the football.