That’s the only reasonable word that can sum up the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
The Colts thoroughly outplayed the now 4-1 Ravens for the first three quarters at M&T Bank Stadium. Leading 25-9 during the fourth quarter, this could have been the type of win that helps turn a season around, giving the Colts momentum as they head into the lighter part of their schedule.
And then, Lamar Jackson happened.
The Ravens scored 22 unanswered points to win, 31-25, in overtime. This marks the first time in the Indianapolis Colts era where they have lost a game after leading by more than 16 points in the fourth quarter. They were a perfect 120-0 before last night.
The Colts fly back to Indy with their tails tucked between their legs, knowing they should have closed out the game. As the team reels from the loss, let’s take a look at those that stood out in the loss, both good and bad, with the Colts now sitting at 1-4.
QB Carson Wentz
Monday night was easily Wentz’s best game as a Colt. He went 25-of-35 (71.4%) for 402 yards and two touchdowns. The 402 passing yards were a career-high for Wentz as he became the fourth Colts’ quarterback to throw for that many yards, joining Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and Johnny Unitas.
Wentz was surgical at times, driving the ball down the field and hitting his open receivers. The two touchdowns came on a screen to Jonathan Taylor for 76 yards and a deep throw to Michael Pittman Jr. for 42 yards. The passing game looked the best it has all year, most likely attributed to Wentz getting healthy and having more practice time with his teammates.
However, he wasn’t perfect on the night. He still had issues with his mechanics and throwing high to receivers. He also failed to recognize pre-snap pressure a few times and lost a fumble on a sack.
While there aren’t any moral victories, Colts fans should be very encouraged by Wentz’s performance.
RB Jonathan Taylor
Taylor is beginning to turn into a top running back in the NFL, and the Colts made sure he was a major part of the game plan from the jump.
He totaled 169 yards (53 rushing, 116 receiving) and two touchdowns. He opened up the game by taking a screen pass on 3rd-and-long for 76-yards for the opening touchdown. While the Ravens did not allow him to take over the game on the ground, he had his best game as a receiver.
Taylor was not known to be a receiving back coming out of Wisconsin. If he can make this a consistent threat in his game, he will be keeping opposing defensive coordinators up for many nights to come.
WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Pittman is blossoming into a top target for this Colts team right before our eyes.
It seemed like he made huge play after huge play in the passing game. He finished the night with six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a deep throw from Wentz, where Pittman leaped over the defender to catch it and dragged his defender to the end zone.
One aspect of Pittman’s game that always stands out is his toughness when running the ball. He fights for extra yardage on every play and never goes down easily. The physicality that he brings to the receiver position is a joy to watch.
With T.Y. Hilton still out with a neck injury, this was the perfect opportunity for Pittman to show that he can be the top target for this Colts team. He is certainly on his way to making that a reality.
For most of the game, the defense played pretty solidly. It wasn’t until the end of the third quarter when the Colts gave up their first touchdown to the Ravens. Players like Darius Leonard, Julian Blackmon, and Tyquan Lewis were making great plays.
Then the flood gates opened.
The Colts gave up 22 points to the Ravens in the fourth quarter and overtime. Jackson finished the game going 37-of-43 (86%) for 442 yards and four touchdowns. His top two weapons went off as well, with tight end Mark Andrews (11 catches, 147 yds) and wide receiver Marquise Brown (9 catches, 125 yds) each hauling in a pair of touchdowns.
The collapse by the Colts’ defense was a train wreck. The Ravens drove up and down the field like they were playing against air, with the Colts putting up almost no fight against it. While injuries played a factor (Colts were missing at least four starters for the majority of the fourth), there is no excuse for what happened Monday night. They blew it.
DC Matt Eberflus
As the defensive coordinator, Eberflus deserves a big chunk of the blame for the performance as well. It seemed as if the Colts continually played soft coverage, allowing Jackson to sit in the pocket and pick them apart with no threat of a pass rush.
This is starting to be a very common theme with the Colts. This defense seems to play well against average and below quarterbacks. Yet when they face a great quarterback such as Jackson, a full 60-minute game cannot be put together, and the quarterback has success.
For a unit that had hopes of being among the league’s top five, they are far from it. The combination of a lack of pass rush, soft coverages, and what seems to be constant miscommunications is becoming the norm. That is on coaching.
K Rodrigo Blankenship
Kudos to Blankenship for gutting it out. He was obviously not himself and revealed after the game that he started feeling a stabbing sensation in his hip on his kicking leg. Every kick was a struggle for him.
Unfortunately, his struggles were a major reason the Colts lost. “Hot Rod” was 2-of-4 on field-goal attempts and 1-of-2 on extra-point attempts. One of his field goals was blocked by Ravens defensive tackle Calais Campbell, but his two other misses sailed wide left, including the game-winning attempt.
A healthy Blankenship probably hits those, and we are talking about a completely different outcome. However, injured or not, the misses cost this Colts team dearly.
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