INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck never expected to play a perfect game against Baltimore’s defense.
Even at less than his best, the Colts’ quarterback can still play well enough to win.
Luck threw one touchdown pass and scored on a 13-yard run Sunday, and Indianapolis’ suddenly stout defense closed it out with a daring play to force an overthrow in final minute to preserve a 20-13 victory over the Ravens.
”You know going into playing the Ravens, you know not to try and script everything,” Luck said. ”I don’t want to say `haywire,’ but you expect things not to go as expected. What you do expect is a tough, gritty, down-to-the-wire (game).”
Which is exactly what the Colts (3-2) got thanks in large part of their own miscues.
Yes, Luck was 32 of 49 for 312 yards with one touchdown and scored the decisive points on a nimble 13-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
But he also threw two interceptions, Indy lost two fumbles, had a touchdown negated by a rare penalty on Reggie Wayne and managed to score just two TDs in five red-zone trips. The Colts missed chances to take complete control of the game because of Luck’s third-quarter interception and Ahmad Bradshaw’s fumble with 1:49 left, both deep in Ravens territory. That forced Greg Toler to come up with the biggest play of the game – Joe Flacco’s overthrow on fourth-and-3 with 32 seconds left, a play that could have tied the score.
Indy’s players knew it shouldn’t have been that close.
”We didn’t really play Colts football to the best of our ability for the entire game,” tight end Dwayne Allen said after catching a 6-yard pass for the game’s first TD.
But the Colts still played well enough to end Baltimore’s three-game winning streak and move into a share of the AFC South lead with Houston.
For Baltimore (3-2), it was even more frustrating. Flacco was 22 of 38 for 235 yards with no touchdowns and a nearly 17 1/2-minute disparity in possession time.
”We made too many mistakes. We didn’t convert first downs, and we didn’t put ourselves in very good position,” Flacco said. ”Any time you turn the ball over and you’re not keeping yourselves on the field, it’s going to be tough to win.”
Here are some other takeaways from Sunday’s game:
TURNOVER TROUBLE: Baltimore and Indianapolis usually prevail in turnover margin. On Sunday, both teams were sloppy. Steve Smith lost a fumble on the Ravens’ first offensive play, which led to a field goal by Adam Vinatieri, and Jacoby Jones later muffed a punt when it hit his leg. Bradshaw’s late fumble and Griff Whalen’s fumble on a punt return were just as bad, but the Colts survived the minus-1 deficit to get the win.
SURGING DEFENSE: Two weeks into the season, Colts critics were complaining about the defense. The Colts are turning around that impression. Over the last three games, Indy has 11 sacks and has allowed just 15.7 points.
STAGNANT RAVENS: Perhaps the most disconcerting stat for Baltimore should be this: 1 of 11 on third-down conversions. A week ago, the Ravens set a franchise record by going 10 of 13 (76.9 percent). The Ravens need to clean that up before hitting the road for three of their next four games.
COVER CORNERS: Toler and Vontae Davis have played well all season, even when the Colts couldn’t generate a pass rush. This game demonstrated how valuable these two really are. Davis picked off his second pass of the season and returned it 29 yards to set up Indy’s first TD. Baltimore’s two Smiths – Steve and Torrey – combined for eight catches and 72 yards.
DIVISION DUEL: Indy heads to Houston on Thursday with a chance to reclaim its front-runner status in the AFC South. A win would give Indy a one-game lead and a 3-0 mark against division rivals with two road wins against division foes.
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