After three surprising losses earlier in the year the Baltimore Ravens are finally beating the teams that they should. Just like last week’s win over the Cleveland Browns they looked comfortable throughout the second half and the score line doesn’t reflect the true ease with which this one was won as the Ravens head towards an almost certain playoff berth.
For the Colts it was another routine loss, poor quarterback play, poor blocking and poor play in coverage. Safe to say the Colts were pretty poor on Sunday and you really have to question how they can find a way to win a game this year, not that they deserve to – I personally haven’t seen a worse team in all my time watching football.
The game featured key performances, both good and bad, from both teams so with that in mind, let’s take a look at the performances that impacted the game on Sunday.
Baltimore – Three Performances of Note
It’s difficult to do more as a pass rusher than Terrell Suggs (+7.5) did on Sunday. His two pressures and a single hit are modest totals, but he forced a fumble on all three of his sacks and had the Ravens been able to recover those fumbles then perhaps the score line would have more reflected the Ravens overall dominance. He was once again solid against the run, hardly surprising considering his worst grade against the run all year has been a -0.4 against the Texans but it was his play as a pass rusher that Suggs really made his mark. As the Ravens push towards a potential division title and first round bye in the playoffs they’ll need Suggs to keep up this level of play, I’m sure he’s more than up to the task.
Smith Steps Up
With the news today that Lardarius Webb (-1.9) is expected to miss some time with turf toe, the Ravens can at least take some solace in how first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith (+2.1) played this week. Targeted four times in coverage, Smith didn’t allow a single catch while breaking up one of his own. That came on the first play of the second quarter, with the Colts facing 3rd-and-3 from their own 27 yard line, Smith kept tight coverage on Pierre Garcon (-1.9) before getting his arm round just in time to break the pass up and force the punt. Smith missed almost all of the first six games on the year but since making it back on to the field he is allowing just 38.9% of passes thrown into his coverage to be completed.
Area of Concern
For a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations I have one major bone of contention with the Ravens; offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie (-0.8) and Michael Oher (-2.8), especially considering Joe Flacco’s struggles under pressure. Oher hit form mid season between Weeks 8 and 10 but was back to his usual sub-par standard on Sunday, giving up three total pressures. McKinnie has struggled all year with just one game where has graded out higher than +0.9 and Sunday was no different as he failed to make an impact in the run game while giving up a sack and a pressure in pass protection. Baltimore have managed some big wins this season but as we head towards the playoffs they need to get better play from their tackles to allow Flacco time to find all the weapons at his disposal.
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
How to go 0-16
After the poor play of Curtis Painter the Colts obviously decided that they needed to change things up at quarterback, quite how they landed on a player who played on the 0-16 Lions team and who’s most famous play is running out of the back of the end zone is beyond me. Dan Orlovsky (-6.8) lived up, or rather down, to those expectations on Sunday after a solid performance in New England the week before. Failing to complete a single pass beyond 20 yards, the only deep ball to not hit the ground was caught by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard (+1.9), Orlovsky actually only completed four passes beyond 10 yards. That’s never going to be enough to win in the NFL when you have the supporting cast that he has and as the Colts march towards a winless season, the first pick in the draft seems inevitable now.
Nothing from the Nickel
It always bemuses me when a team has a set linebacker for nickel situations and that linebacker is horrible in coverage, Ernie Sims (-1.7) filled that role perfectly on Sunday. Giving up catches on all five of the balls thrown into his coverage, allowing 26 yards after the catch to make matters worse. He was in coverage for just 17 plays on Sunday meaning that Flacco went after him on almost a third of those plays, which is hardly surprising considering he has now given up a completion percentage of 90.3%, while allowing an average of 11.5 yards per catch, which prompts the question of why the Colts continue to put him out on the field?
Still Playing Hard
While many have questioned how badly the Colts actually want to win right now, the continued play of Dwight Freeney (+1.7) and Robert Mathis (+2.3) shows that they, in the very least, want to win. Mathis registered a hit and three pressures on Sunday from his left defensive end spot, while Freeney was able to sack Flacco twice and add another pressure from the right. Both of Freeney’s sacks came on third downs, but his play on 3rd-and-3 with 11:13 left in the third quarter was particularly impressive. Freeney beat McKinnie with the spin move straight from the snap and had Flacco sacked 2.6 seconds after the snap.
– Ravens running backs forced just one missed tackle on 37 carries.
– Both teams committed two penalties on offense and two on defense.
– Garcon’s two drops were the only two by Colts receivers.
PFF Game Ball
Not a difficult choice at all, Terrell Suggs was simply dominant as a pass rusher with his pressure not simply registering sacks but three forced fumbles too. Adding to all that, the only reception he allowed went for minus six yards. Superb display all round.