Week 1 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 24, Baltimore Ravens 7
What you need to know
The Colts struggled against a great defense to open the game, only scoring three points in the first half. Reggie Wayne struggled to get open against Samari Rolle all night, which limited Peyton Manning’s options. Edgerrin James had trouble finding the outside all night, getting mugged down in the middle of the field often. Manning hit his groove in the second half though, hitting Marvin Harrison and Ben Utecht for touchdowns.
Dallas Clark missed the game, still suffering from symptoms of a concussion. Ben Utecht replaced him and caught a touchdown, but failed to catch three other passes thrown at him. Peyton Manning appeared visibly annoyed at Utecht after one of these drops.
The big news for Indianapolis was the improved defense. Dwight Freeney embarrassed Jonathan Ogden yet again on national television, using his speed and quickness to get the big man off balance. He didn’t get a sack out of it, but he forced several bad throws from Kyle Boller, and tackled Jamal Lewis in the backfield a couple of times.
Brandon Stokley showed no signs of his shoulder injury that sidelined him most of the preseason, catching seven passes for 83 yards on the night.
Jamal Lewis started the game and struggled, only posting a per carry average of three yards. His backup, Chester Taylor, was more successful but did most of his damage against backups.
Kyle Boller got hurt towards the end of the third quarter on a sack by Larry Tripplett. He was taken to the locker room for x-rays, the results of which showed a toe injury. Anthony Wright replaced him in the game. Both Boller and Wright were ineffective on the whole, although Wright did lead the Ravens to their only points of the game.
WR Clarence Moore dropped or didn’t attempt to catch six of the eight balls thrown at him, furthering the perception that he is a lion in practice, but a lamb once the game starts. Conversely, Mark Clayton performed well under the spotlight, catching five passes on the night.
TE Daniel Wilcox received more targets and caught more passes than his counterpart Todd Heap. Heap disappeared for most of the night, and even though he played for most of the game he only had three catches to show for it. Wilcox, on the other hand, had eight catches for 99 yards on the night. The Ravens will try to use these two guys in tandem in the future, as Wilcox is proving too good to leave on the bench.
What you ought to know
|QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 21 - 36 - 254 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -2 - 0|
Manning struggled to lead his team to points early, as the Colts only scored three points in the first half on five drives. On the one scoring drive of the first half, Manning threw an interception to S Will Demps in the end zone that was called back because of an off sides penalty on DE Terrell Suggs. The first half was simply a great offense being stymied by a great defense. Manning came alive in the second half after a punt on the first possession, leading the Colts to two consecutive touchdown drives. Starting on their own 37 yard line, Manning led a seven play, 63 yard drive ending with a 23 yard strike to WR Marvin Harrison. After another Baltimore punt, Manning led a four play, 71 yard drive capped with a 26 yard touchdown strike to TE Ben Utecht. Manning evenly distributed his passes among his top three wide receivers, targeting each a minimum of nine times. The crowd was loud but he was able to call plays and audible at the line.
Yep. This is exactly what you might expect from a rookie QB in his first ‘real’ game of his NFL career. The Bears were doing their best to confuse him, showing blitz then dropping into coverage, and getting pressure from just their four man fronts. It didn’t help that the running game was stuffed at almost every turn, forcing Luck to pass the ball 45 times for the game. His interceptions where about as expected – either lofted passes that hung in the air too long, or on passes where he clearly didn’t respect the speed of the DB. He also had a fumble where he was hit when he dropped back and the ball fell into Julius Peppers’ hands. However, Luck did show some solid points, including the ability to look down to alternate receivers and find the open man when he had time. He showed nice touch on a couple passes as well, especially going down the middle of the field to Fleener where Luck places the ball in between defenders for a nice gain. His favorite receiver was definitely Reggie Wayne, and Wayne did his best to make Luck successful. Luck took his lumps but showed some progress as well. Time will tell if he will live up to the expectations that have been placed on him.
James struggled to find holes against the stout Ravens D for most of the night. James was used sparingly as a receiver out of the backfield, and used more as a pounder than as a finesse back. James had trouble turning the corner on the outside runs due to the speed of the Ravens’ linebackers. He also struggled running to the inside, mainly due to the Ravens knowing a run was coming as the Colts tried to drain the clock for most of the fourth quarter. His yardage came in spurts, and was not consistent. James was also the target of a pass in the third quarter that was negated because of a defensive penalty against the Ravens.
Mungro saw action as a lead blocker on a few short yardage plays, but did not touch the ball.
Despite Gore’s lack of production in Week 1, the alarm bells should be silent. This wasn’t a case of Gore being ineffective, or of the Colts’ failing to use him. It was simply an unfavorable game script caused by a poor defensive matchup. The Colts fell behind early, and Buffalo’s incredible front seven was a terrible matchup for the Colts’ below-average offensive line to run the ball on. Gore also cramped up in the second half, limiting his opportunities. As the Colts go forward, Gore still remains a key part of the offense in most circumstances.
Hart’s only touch of the game came on the second to last play of the game.
Rhodes didn’t do much with his opportunities, although he did take advantage of his goal line carries and scored a touchdown. Otherwise, he wasn’t impressive. He did a good job of protecting Peyton Manning through pass blocking, and he caught a few balls out of the backfield. As with Joseph Addai, his overall totals were hurt by the running game’s ineffectiveness.
The rookie running back got a few good looks in the offense with Gore sidelined with cramps in the second half, but Robinson missed a couple holes and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Fellow rookie Tyler Varga looked better in limited action, both in the offense as a passing threat and in special teams. Unless Gore goes down for significant time, Robinson won’t see the volume needed to make him fantasy relevant.
Used on passing downs throughout the game, Varga looks like the favorite to see an increased workload as the season progresses. The Colts seem to trust his pass blocking more than fellow rookie Josh Robinson, who saw just four snaps in pass protection as compared to Varga’s three. Varga had an impressive preseason, especially catching passes out of the backfield, and he made the most of his lone target on Sunday with an 18-yard gain. He’ll need an injury to Frank Gore before he’s a consistent part of the offense, however.
Coming off a preseason injury and questionable for most of the week, Stokley made his presence felt and performed much like his career year last year. Playing out of the slot as is the norm, Stokley was matched up predominantly against CB Deion Sanders, although Ed Reed matched up against him at times. He had a long reception of 28 yards, but was targeted on a number of quick hitch passes in short yardage situations.
Harrison had a good start to the season, and was the recipient of Manning’s first touchdown pass, a 28 yarder in the third quarter. CB Chris McAlister was isolated on Harrison for most of the night, but that didn’t stop Manning from targeting Harrison early and often. Manning just barely overthrew Harrison in what would have been a sure long touchdown against blown coverage.
Wayne, matched up against CB Samari Rolle, had a down night by his standards, failing to score and amassing only 50 yards. He dropped a couple of passes, one in particular could have been a long gainer had he showed better concentration on the ball. He also was the target of a Peyton Manning interception that was called back, a play where he failed to look for the ball as it was approaching.
Brazill was mostly involved on kick returns and passing downs where he was the #4 WR. He had just one catch, a short dump off where he was able to push up field for a quick 10 yard gain. His highlight play though was the second return of the third quarter, where Brazil fumbled the ball and the Bears recovered it on the Indianapolis 12 yard line.
It was a rough debut for Phillip Dorsett, who muffed two punts, losing one, and didn’t receive an offensive snap until T.Y. Hilton went down with an injury in the second half. Dorsett did look like he fit in the offense well during those snaps, but it may be a while before he carves out a full-time role. The bright side for the Colts’ first-round pick is that more opportunities will come. The Colts are not quick to bench promising young players after mistakes, as evidenced by Dorsett getting a second chance to return punts after the first muff. Luck also tends to target receivers who get open over receivers who thrive on contested catches, which should favor Dorsett. With Hilton potentially missing a week or two with a bruised knee, Dorsett should have a chance to redeem himself.
Few players had a hype train with more momentum than TY Hilton at points in this offseason; but as week one approached it became obvious that hype was more so hope for overly optimistic Hilton fans. He came in exclusively on 3-wide sets and was the starting punt returner. While TY only had 3 catches on his 5 targets, the 2 non-catches were deep balls thrown by Luck, both were guarded nicely by the defenders. It's a positive sign however because that's where TY is going to get his numbers, on deep bombs from Andrew Luck, and to see that the Colts still have that idea in their gameplan is a positive step moving forward.
Even with the pass-heavy game plan, the rookie receiver out of Ole Miss was rarely on the field for the Colts, catching just one pass in five snaps. But with the Colts’ injury history at wide receiver, he is a good candidate to see an increase as the season progresses.
Moorehead received one target in the game, which was incomplete. He looked to have run a different route than Peyton Manning had expected.
Starting in place of Dallas Clark, Utecht was thrown into the fire with his first NFL action coming in a starting capacity. The second year player caught the first pass of his NFL career and scored his first touchdown on a 26 yard pass from Manning with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter. However, that was the only pass he caught all night despite being targeted four times. Manning was visibly upset with Utecht on one occasion, going over to him on the sideline after a miscommunication led to an incomplete pass.
Dwayne Allen only needed one target to get himself a TD, off a nice play action from Luck, Allen caught it at the 5 and had to fight to reach pay dirt, ultimately doing so. On Allen's second target though, Luck left him out to dry and when Allen came down from trying to grab it, he landed awkwardly on his back. After the game it was acknowledged by Coach Pagano to be some sort of a hip injury, needing an MRI Monday morning. At the time this article was published, news on the MRI had not yet been released however it definitely is something Allen owners will want to pay attention to.
Jack Doyle made his first catch in the 4th quarter. Doyle went over the middle and secured a pass for a 13 yard gain despite taking a nice hit. On his second reception Doyle ran a corner route and came wide open between the linebacker and safety for a 16 yard touchdown. Doyle capped the Colts final drive running a post route and working to get open before securing the six yard score in the back of the end zone.
Vanderjagt was perfect on the night, converting all three extra point attempts and also converting a 20 yard field goal in the second quarter, the first points scored in the game.
The Colts’ rush defense was very impressive considering the dual-headed attack the Ravens boasted with Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor. They held the Ravens to 78 yards rushing on the night. DL Larry Tripplett had a great night with seven tackles, as did MLB Greg Brackett with eight tackles and two assists.
The Colts harassed Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright all day. They recorded three sacks, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery. MLB Greg Brackett had two interceptions himself. DE Dwight Freeney made Ravens OT Jonathan Ogden look silly on several occasions, as Ogden had no answer to Freeney’s speed. The Colts allowed the vast majority of their passing yardage in the fourth quarter garbage time, when backups were playing.
Wright entered the game after Boller’s injury, firing away. He threw for 214 yards in just over a quarter. When Wright entered the game the Ravens were trailing by 17 already, so there wasn’t much balance to the attack. Wright’s favorite receiver was Derrick Mason, who he targeted seven times. Wright turned the ball over three times in his quarter and a half of play, getting intercepted twice and fumbling once as he was getting sacked. He showed no fear throwing down the field, however, and led the Ravens to their only points of the game on a touchdown to Daniel Wilcox with 1:00 remaining in the game.
|QB Kyle Boller, Pass: 15 - 23 - 141 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
Boller came into the game on the hot seat because of his shaky preseason performances. His performance was an improvement, but it will likely do little to dissuade his detractors. His completion rate was 65%, but this didn’t lead to any points. Boller was intercepted on the opening drive of the game on a very poor pass with no clear target. On his second drive, Boller led the team 40 yards down the field only to see K Matt Stover miss a 38 yard attempt. Later, on the first drive of the second half, Stover missed another field goal. So, it wasn’t all Boller’s fault. Unfortunately for Boller, he was injured on a first down play towards the end of the third quarter. DL Larry Tripplett broke through and sacked Boller, who fell while his leg was pinned under Tripplett. The diagnosis was a severely sprained right big toe.
On Baltimore’s second play from scrimmage, Joe Flacco threw his first NFL pass to TE Todd Heap. While it was a nine yard completion for what would have been a first down, the rookie had no time to celebrate or follow up on that initial success as Heap promptly fumbled away the ball. Flacco’s second series was almost as inauspicious as it consisted of a quick three and out. On his third series, however, the butterflies must have fluttered away elsewhere as Flacco began to calmly and efficiently execute the short to medium range passing plays that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was calling. That would become the order for the rest of the day as Flacco rarely took aim deep down the field -- and when he did take a deep shot, he didn’t lead his WRs nearly enough to give them a chance to stay in stride and outrun their coverage. While the predominantly conservative play-calling may not have been a surprise given the fact it was Flacco’s first career start, what was surprising was the mobility that Flacco demonstrated both in and out of the pocket. While no one would confuse him for Vince Young, Flacco was able to side-step the occasional rush and he was able to make his way down-field early in order to throw one of the blocks that sprang WR Mark Clayton free on a first quarter reverse play for a TD. Most electrifying, however, was his late third quarter scramble down the right sideline for a 38 yard touchdown on a broken play. In the end, Flacco showed some poise in this game and looked like he belonged running this offense. With some more time to work with his receivers, some of those long plays that Flacco missed in this game could become completions – and TDs -- down the road.
|RB Jamal Lewis, Rush: 16 - 48 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)|
Jamal Lewis struggled in his first action since injuring his ankle in 2004 and his jail time in the off season, averaging a meager three yards per carry. He was the target of only one pass, and was replaced in clear passing situations by Chester Taylor. With around ten minutes left in the game, Lewis was replaced permanently by Taylor, as the game was out of reach at that point. Lewis broke a 25 yard run to start off the second drive of the game, and that was his long run for the night. If you remove that 25 yard run, his remaining stats look even bleaker, at 15 carries for 23 yards, or 1.5 yards per carry.
Taylor saw increased action as a result of Jamal Lewis’ coming off an injury, and Taylor’s outstanding preseason play. He served as the main pass catching back for the Ravens, but that didn’t prove to be fruitful. He looked considerably more explosive than Lewis, but that could be due to his runs taking place on clear passing downs.
Coming off the bench to give Forsett a breather, Allen was one of the few players who consistently found room to operate against the Broncos. Over half of his carries went for at least four yards, though he was unable to evade the swarm of tacklers once he reached the second level. In all, Allen had a solid enough performance, getting the hard yards that were available to him, but otherwise did not stand out.
Justin Forsett was solid in relief of Bernard Pierce. He is certainly not the long term answer but filled in admirably. He was very good in pass protection and performed well as a receiver. He does an excellent job of reading his blockers and the defense. Forsett showed the ability to gain the edge and navigated through traffic with good quickness. He scored his touchdown on a well-designed and blocked pitch play to the outside. Forsett showed good patience on screen plays and good burst when his blockers hit their marks.
Green was on the field for a few plays and had one catch.
Terrence West split snaps and touches with Justin Forsett. The two backs combined for 27 touches and close to 100 total yards. West was given the short yardage work and played periodically throughout the game. West made a few impressive runs displaying his elusiveness. West should have been dropped for a loss but instead juked Jerry Hughes and managed to get past the line of scrimmage for a short gain. West made another impressive run slipping out of an arm tackle and reversing fields gaining 10 yards on the scamper. The Ravens offensive line was able to open holes into the second level but West could not break into the open field. The Bills played the run well but it was a disappointing day for the Ravens ground game.
Mason, like most Ravens receivers, dramatically improved his statistics after Kyle Boller left the game And Anthony Wright entered. He was targeted seven times by Wright in a little over a quarter. The relevance of these statistics is debatable, as the Colts were comfortably ahead at this juncture and were playing some backups.
Clayton didn’t see action until the end of the second quarter, but received substantial action in the second half as the game went out of reach. He was a favored target of QB Anthony Wright, who replaced Kyle Boller after his injury. Clayton showed the shiftiness and quickness that was his trademark at the University of Oklahoma. He worked a series of short passes into gains of around ten yards consistently.
Moore started opposite Derrick Mason and struggled. Targeted eight times over the course of the evening, he only managed to haul in two of those for catches, failing to catch six. He had a long catch of 24 yards, but was generally unimpressive and dropped some easy catches. He also was called for a false start penalty.
Hymes was the target of an Anthony Wright pass late when the game was out of reach.
Kamar Aiken joined Steve Smith in two-receiver sets for the Ravens, but like the rest of the team, was unable to make anything happen. Aiken drew three targets, but finished with -1 receiving yard as he couldn’t shake free of the Denver defense.
Marlon Brown was the second most impressive pass catcher for the Ravens. Brown still has to improve his ability to beat press man coverage but he is head and shoulders above Stokley. Brown wasn’t in sync with Flacco early. He got two targets deep early after Jones’ injury but Flacco overthrew Brown both times. Brown beat man coverage on third down to move the chains. Flacco goes right back to Brown as he shook loose against zone coverage for a gain of 23. Brown eats up yards after the catch and gains 22 yards on a shallow cross. Flacco looked to Brown in the red zone, and Brown caught a touchdown on a corner route against man coverage.
Breshad Perriman showed off his play making ability in his first NFL regular season game. Perriman made a great catch on his first target. Perriman ran a nine route and was shoulder to shoulder with Stephon Gillmore down the sideline but with a little hand fighting and a perfectly timed leap he secured the 35 yard gain. He showed great hands, concentration and awareness to complete the difficult catch. A few plays later Gillmore got his hand between Perriman’s and forced an incompletion on a slant route. Perriman is still the fourth receiver but Steve Smith struggling leaves the door open for more opportunities if he keeps making plays.
Mike Wallace looked like the Ravens top option in the passing game. Wallace made his first catch in front of Stephon Gillmore on an in route for a 15 yard gain. Lined up in the slot Wallace got a favorable matchup on a safety, beat him off the line and Flacco hit him in stride for a 66 yard touchdown. Wallace’s next target fell incomplete with a strong contest from Gillmore this time on a comeback route. Wallace was targeted in the end zone but the pass was overthrown and Gillmore again had tight coverage. Wallace made a catch on a hot read from Flacco and got up field for 7 yards. Wallace received an end around hand off, showed off his speed and picked up 12 yards. Wallace showed good chemistry with Flacco and the ability to make plays all over the field. Wallace’s role will continue to grow the more he makes big plays.
Wilcox was the second leading receiver for the Ravens and played most of the night. He was targeted often by both Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright, and saw more targets than fellow TE Todd Heap. He was the recipient of the Ravens’ only score of the game, a 17 yard pass from Anthony Wright for a touchdown with one minute remaining in the game.
Heap started the game and played a good portion, but failed to provide much help to the Ravens’ struggling offense. He was generally passed over in favor of fellow TE Daniel Wilcox, who had a much easier time getting open. The Ravens used a number of two TE sets, incorporating both Heap and Wilcox into their game plan.
Dinkins entered the game once it was out of reach and was the target of several Anthony Wright passes.
Logging the most snaps of any Ravens offensive player except for Flacco or the offensive linemen, Gillmore was a frequent feature on the field for Baltimore. Like the rest of Baltimore’s offense, though, he couldn’t shake free of a smothering defense. Gillmore’s 23 yards were just two shy of the team lead.
If Dickson compares to New England’s Aaron Hernandez, Pitta more closely resembles Rob Gronkowski. He was used as blocker moreso than Dickson, but he can still be a pass-catcher. If he were the sole tight end on a team, he’d be a viable target but would be much closer to how Pittsburgh uses Miller – both blocking and receiving.
Stover was very disappointing, missing all three field goals he attempted (38, 47, 45). After his third miss, he was booed by the home fans, who also sarcastically cheered him after he made his only extra point attempt late in the game. He also failed to convert on an onside kick with 1:00 remaining in the game.
The Ravens’ rush defense was solid, as it usually is. Colts RB Edgerrin James found holes hard to find, and lost yards on a few occasions. MLB Ray Lewis was his usual productive self, recording eight tackles and two assists on the evening.
Initially at least, the Ravens’ pass defense stifled Peyton Manning and the Colts. However, the lack of an offense really hurt them here, and they tired in the second half and allowed the game to get away. CB Samari Rolle did his job well against WR Reggie Wayne, limiting him to only 50 yards on the night. CB Chris McAlister had more trouble with Marvin Harrison, but did a decent job.