Ravens’ defense scorched in loss to Colts

Street Talk Ravens’ defense scorched in loss to Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS
— The football sailed high into the air as a perfect lob from Peyton Manning landed several yards behind trailing Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister.

He was relegated to an excellent view of the back of Marvin Harrison’s jersey when the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver caught the touchdown pass in stride in the first quarter.

The 67-yard strike from Manning was an early exclamation point that signaled how the Ravens and their top-ranked defense would be barbecued by the Colts’ high-octane passing game in a 31-3 meltdown of a loss Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"This is bad," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "You take your hats off to them, but we did some things to make it easy for them to score.

“We made mistakes early and we made them fast and they capitalized on every mistake we made. That doesn’t make for a good dish right there."

It wasn’t the only breakdown from McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who entered the game with three interceptions. And it wouldn’t be the lone indignity the Ravens (2-3) would endure as they absorbed their third consecutive defeat after opening the season with two AFC North victories.

It marks the Ravens’ sixth consecutive loss to
Indianapolis (3-2), including a heartbreaking AFC divisional playoff loss two seasons ago and this latest defeat is one year removed from a 44-20 rout in

Baltimore
. It’s the Colts’ first win at their pristine new stadium.

"It’s frustrating, we thought we would play a hell of a lot better than we did," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "This one hurts. We don’t take kindly to getting our ass kicked. That’s what happened."

This time, there was no confidence to be derived from another competitive loss by three points. This was an old-fashioned belt-whipping punctuated by McAlister being beaten twice by
Harrison for scores with Manning also exploiting cornerback Corey Ivy for another touchdown pass.
 
The eight-time Pro Bowl passer finished with three touchdown passes on 19 of 28 accuracy for 271 yards and no interceptions for a sterling 134.7 quarterback rating. The Ravens were shorthanded in the secondary, missing starting cornerback Samari Rolle following neck surgery, nickel back Fabian Washington with a dislocated right shoulder and starting strong safety Dawan Landry sidelined from a spinal cord concussion.

"We made mistakes and their guys made plays," Ryan said. "You try to do a coverage and some help. Shoot, that wasn’t the answer, either.

"Now, he’s got more time to look over the field. We tried everything. They had the answers and we didn’t."

Meanwhile, the offense was overwhelmed by a speedy, undersized and oft-criticized Colts defense as rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw three interceptions and fumbled twice.

Against the NFL’s last-ranked run defense, the Ravens’ fourth-ranked running game was limited to a season-low 51 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The final outcome was extremely predictable.

"We got what we deserved," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That’s what happens when you play the way we did. I like the way our team continued to compete, fight and I liked the way they are going to handle adversity.

"They are mighty men, and I think we’ve got a great future in front of us. I can’t wait to see where we go from here."

During the first touchdown, McAlister appeared to peek into the backfield and then he couldn’t catch up to a streaking
Harrison.

There were no safeties in the vicinity to help out as McAlister was isolated on the right sideline.

When asked if McAlister was supposed to have assistance, Ryan replied: "I don’t remember the coverage."

McAlister also had trouble reacting quickly enough in the second quarter on a five-yard slant from
Harrison for a touchdown. It was the first time that
Harrison had caught two touchdown passes in a game since Dec. 24, 2006.

"We’re in Cover 1," McAlister said. "I allowed him to get inside and he made the play."

Added Ryan: "It’s hard to defend against a perfect pass. We saw that a couple of times with Peyton. It’s unfortunate. He looked a hell of a lot better this week than he had in the previous games."

McAlister has had problems with his right knee, but denied that was the cause behind the touchdowns allowed.

"My knee is fine," McAlister said. "It’s not an issue. We lost. They outperformed us. The Colts came out and did what they normally do. Can’t sit there and say we didn’t expect it, just didn’t execute.

"It’s time for us to reflect on what happened and find a way to get better. You can’t go around and point fingers."

Ivy was beaten by wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the first quarter for a 22-yard touchdown when he didn’t turn around to challenge a well-delivered pass.

"I’ve got to play better,"

Walker
said. "I always put it on me. I would never question the intensity and preparation of our players."

Free safety Ed Reed chalked up the shortcomings of the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense to communication breakdowns, including some confusion he detected during practice heading into the game.

"You try to make those corrections, but, once you get out there, it’s a different atmosphere and things happen a little bit faster," Reed said. "W e didn’t want to get in a comeback mode against this team because if you do we know what’s going to happen.

"We wanted to keep them from jumping out there, but, once it started, it was downhill from there. You got to learn to pick yourself up when you get hit like that. We just couldn’t get up."

Uncharacteristically, the Ravens had trouble tackling as running back Dominic Rhodes slipped past middle linebacker Ray Lewis on a 38-yard run in the second quarter as he eluded and bounced off five or six defenders to set up Harrison’s second score.

"My mama told me if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all," Lewis said.

Offensively,

Baltimore
generated just 49 yards in nearly the first 2 1/2 quarters with just three first downs by halftime.

After fullback Le’Ron McClain lost a fumble in the first quarter when defensive end Raheem Brock struck the ball with his helmet, linebacker Freddie Keiaho recovered to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri’s 37-yard field goal.

Flacco finished 28-for-38 with 241, mostly inconsequential yards, was sacked four times and botched a handoff that rookie running back Ray Rice recovered.

He was intercepted by safety Melvin Bullitt on a pass intended for wide receiver Mark Clayton at the

Baltimore
32 with 14:17 remaining in the first quarter. It was the third play of the Ravens’ first offensive possession.

"It’s a combination of bad throws and bad decisions," Flacco said. "I threw two of them high and missed the guys for some reason. I’ve just got to make better decisions."

Manning led the Colts on an 80-yard drive to open the second half as
Rhodes (25 carries, 73 yards) busted into the end zone untouched for a 1-yard touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, Manning’s 67-yard touchdown pass to

Wayne
behind Frank Walker was nullified due to a holding penalty.

The Ravens avoided a potential shutout on kicker Matt Stover’s 37-yard field goal with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.

"This is embarrassing," running back Willis McGahee said. "But it’s probably a wakeup call for us."


 

Aaron Wilson covers the
Baltimore Ravens for the
Carroll
County Times and the

Annapolis
Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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