As long as Terrell Suggs continues to go harass opposing quarterbacks, and if defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano repeatedly finds the perfect blitzes to call, the Baltimore Ravens will keep on winning without Ray Lewis.
Suggs had three sacks and forced three fumbles as part of an overwhelming defensive performance by the Ravens, who kept the Indianapolis Colts winless with a 24-10 victory Sunday.
Lewis, Baltimore’s standout middle linebacker and longtime defensive leader, missed a fourth straight game with a right toe injury. The Ravens (10-3) have won every one of those games.
”Right now I think we’re all just doing our part holding the levee until the general gets back,” Suggs said. ”That’s why I honestly think we’re playing the way we are.”
Baltimore limited the hapless Colts to 167 yards — just 53 through three quarters. Were it not for a touchdown on the game’s final play, Indianapolis would have been held without a TD for only the second time since the 2003 season opener.
Baltimore didn’t recover any of the three fumbles that Suggs forced, but he harassed Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky throughout the afternoon.
”We shut them down early, and then they had to start passing the ball,” Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. ”That’s when Terrell Suggs went crazy.”
Suggs, a movie buff, described the action this way: ”It’s chaos out there. A lot is going on more than you see. It’s like ‘The Matrix’ out there with a little bit of ‘Inception’. It’s a little bit crazy.”
Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Ray Rice ran for 103 yards and a score to help the Ravens win their fourth straight and improve to 7-0 at home. Baltimore is tied with Pittsburgh for the lead in the AFC North, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker because of their two wins over the Steelers.
”We have control of our own destiny,” Rice said. ”We’re in the driver’s seat. As long as we keep winning, we’ll be fine.”
The Ravens had lost eight straight to Indianapolis, but that was when Peyton Manning was healthy and at the top of his game. He has yet to play this year because of a neck injury.
Orlovsky, the third Colts quarterback to start this season, went 17 for 37 for 136 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times and hounded throughout the game by Suggs.
”He’s as good a pass rusher as I’ve played against,” Orlovsky said of Suggs. ”I can’t say anything bad about him as a football player.”
Suggs attributed Baltimore’s success to the schemes set in place by Pagano, in his first season as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator. To emphasize the point, Suggs sarcastically made Pagano out to be clueless.
”If anybody trying to hire a head coach, if they ask me I’m going to tell them he (stinks),” Suggs said. ”He’s a terrible coach and his players don’t love him. He don’t know what he’s doing when he’s calling a game.”
The game was far more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Baltimore led 17-3 at halftime and 24-3 in the third quarter, and the Colts drove 76 yards in the final two minutes in a drive that ended with Orlovsky throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme as time expired.
Indianapolis has three games left in the season. If the Colts don’t win, they will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL team to go 0-16 in a season.
”Losing (stinks), no matter what it is,” Orlovsky said. ”Whether it’s football, if it’s rock-paper, none of us like to lose. There’s nothing fun about losing.”
Colts coach Jim Caldwell said, ”We need to find a way to get our team better so we can get a victory. And not just one. We’re running out of time.”
The Ravens needed less than five minutes to take the lead for good. After the Colts went three and out following the opening kickoff, Lardarius Webb returned a punt 27 yards to the Indianapolis 40 and Flacco capped a six-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
Baltimore’s next march covered 66 yards over 13 plays and ended with a 36-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff for a 10-0 lead.
The first quarter ended with the Ravens holding a 111-10 advantage in yardage and an 8-1 lead in first downs.
Nothing changed in the second quarter. Baltimore forced a punt and Flacco went 5 for 7 for 54 yards in a 10-play drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Rice.
Indianapolis finally got into Baltimore territory when Joe Lefeged returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards. Orlovsky then completed a fourth-down pass to Dallas Clark, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to make it 17-3 late in the half.
Baltimore went ahead 24-3 with 3:41 left in the third quarter. Flacco rolled to his right and was near the sideline when he threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta in the middle of the end zone.
Flacco went 23 for 31 for 227 yards and an interception.
NOTES: Suggs has a career-high 13 sacks. … The Colts have only six INTs this season. … Flacco went over 3,000 yards passing and Rice eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing. … Smith’s TD gave him six, tying Jamal Lewis for most by a Ravens rookie. … Indy’s Dwight Freeney had two sacks to go over 100 for his career.