(Sunday, November 22nd)
Final Score: Indianapolis 17, Baltimore 15
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - An interception of Joe Flacco by Colts linebacker Gary Brackett snuffed out a deep Ravens drive late in the fourth quarter, as Indianapolis remained unbeaten by outlasting Baltimore, 17-15, at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens (5-5), who had moved the ball consistently on Indianapolis (10-0) for much of the day but had to settle for five Billy Cundiff field goals, moved within range of a sixth Cundiff field goal when Flacco led them to the Colts' 14-yard line with 2:49 to play.
But on a 3rd-and-7 play, Brackett stepped in front of Flacco's short pass attempt to running back Ray Rice, and a subsequent first-down by the Colts, coupled with some questionable end-of-game management by the Ravens, helped Indy move to 10-0 for the second time in four seasons.
"It was a bad job going to Ray in that situation, but I didn't see [Brackett]," said Flacco. "That's a big play right there. We were in field goal range already, and we wanted to convert on third down, but at the same time, we've got to hold on to the ball, and score some points to take the lead. I did a bad job of doing that."
The Colts have won 19 consecutive regular-season games since a loss at Tennessee last October 27, the second-longest streak in NFL history behind the Patriots' 21-game run from 2006-08.
Just after the Brackett interception, a critical 3rd-and-1 completion from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne was followed by a quick timeout for Baltimore -- its second of the half -- but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh opted to challenge the first-down spot. Baltimore lost the challenge, and was charged with its third timeout, allowing the Colts to run additional time off the clock inside of two minutes to play.
"I was trying to flip the timeout into a challenge, and [the officials] wouldn't let me do it," said Harbaugh of the maneuver. "They were right in not letting me do it. I tried to get too much done in that situation. That was a bad job by me, in that situation."
The Ravens would get the ball back on a Colts punt with 28 seconds left, but an errant lateral attempt by Baltimore return man Ed Reed was recovered by the Colts' Freddy Keiaho to effectively end the contest.
The win marked the seventh consecutive time, including playoffs, that the Colts have won in their former home of Baltimore.
Manning completed 22-of-31 passes for 299 yards and a first-quarter touchdown to keep Indianapolis unbeaten, but also threw a pair of interceptions and finished with fewer than 300 yards for just the second time this season.
"We scored touchdowns, they scored field goals, that was kind of the difference," said Manning. "Gary's interception was huge. They probably would have gotten a field goal there, and then it was a matter of how much time would have been left."
The quarterback led the Colts to their only second-half points on a nine-play, 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter that culminated in a Matt Stover 25-yard field goal to provide the final 17-15 margin.
Stover, the Ravens' all-time leading scorer who was playing against his former team for the first time after not being re-signed in the offseason, made his lone field goal attempt and two point-after tries versus the franchise that employed him from 1996 to 2008.
"He's a true professional," said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell of Stover. "He's been through it and certainly he's been kicking for 18 years. Nothing really gets him upset. Not too high, not too low. He wasn't too overly excited, he just came in and did his job, and I'm certain he felt some kinship. These guys love him around here."
But Stover was upstaged in part by Cundiff, who was signed on Wednesday after the team released the erratic Steve Hauschka the day before, and made good on 5-of-6 field goal tries, though a critical 30-yard miss in the third quarter would be another strike against Baltimore's bid for a victory.
Flacco was 23-of-35 for 256 yards and the key interception, with six of the completions for 104 yards coming in the second half to wideout Derrick Mason, who starred with nine catches for 142 yards on the day.
The afternoon did not start well for Baltimore, as Indianapolis put the Ravens in an early hole.
Manning marched the Colts downfield on the team's first possession, with a three-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark capping off a seven-play, 87-yard drive. A 66-yard pass play down to the Baltimore six-yard line, on which Pierre Garcon beat cornerback Fabian Washington, helped set up the score.
Garcon would finish with six catches for a team-high 108 yards, marking his first career 100-yard outing.
But Baltimore would chip away after the Colts' initial score, managing Cundiff field goals on each of its next three drives, while forcing Manning into a pair of interceptions that sandwiched a punt, to take a 9-7 lead with 4:43 to play in the first-half.
Indianapolis took the lead just before halftime, as Joseph Addai plunged in from five yards out to cap an eight-play, 80-yard drive and give the Colts a 14-9 advantage with 1:23 to play.
Cundiff's fourth field goal of the first half, a 36-yarder, cut the lead to 14-12 at the break.
Indianapolis threatened to build on its advantage during its first drive of the third quarter, as Manning drove the offense deep into Baltimore territory.
But Colts tight end Tom Santi fumbled following a hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis on the one-yard line, with the ball recovered by defensive lineman Dwan Edwards to snuff out a prime Indianapolis scoring chance.
The Ravens would eventually re-claim the lead, when Cundiff atoned for his lone miss of the day by connecting on a 20-yarder from 20 yards away to cap off a 15-play, 65-yard drive and give Baltimore a fleeting 15-14 advantage with 10:12 left.
Baltimore has now lost five of seven games since a 3-0 start.
With his lone catch of the game, which came on his first-quarter touchdown reception, Clark passed former Baltimore Colts legend John Mackey for the most receptions by a tight end in franchise history with 321 over his seven-year NFL career...Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was inactive due to a knee injury suffered Monday night against the Browns, with Sunday ending the three-time Pro Bowl pick's consecutive games played streak at 105...Cundiff's five field goals tied a Ravens franchise record set by Stover on four occasions, most recently in an October 14, 2007 win over the St. Louis Rams...Washington suffered a sprained knee late in the fourth quarter and had to be helped from the field before reaching the Baltimore sideline and being carted off.
11/22 17:32:47 ET
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