Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is helped up by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger (99) during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 24-9. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Well, that's it. 24-9, and into the offseason we go. For the players and coaches, there was no satisfaction in just getting here. But for us, the fans, we should take a moment to be thankful for what we witnessed this season. It was as remarkable and special as it was unbelievable. We can be happy to be here. This was supposed to be a 3-6 win team. 11-5? Playoffs? We'll take it. And now, on to the recapitulation:
Going into the half down 10-6 felt like a gift. After a shaky start, the Colts had managed to hold Baltimore in check despite some big plays by the Ravens' offense. This game could have turned into a blowout early (though it eventually did), if not for some superhuman efforts from the out-manned Colts.
After a good defensive series to start the third quarter, Andrew Luck began to heat up. The offensive line threatened to put out the fire with a series of horrifying struggles, highlighted by Bradley Sowell's "olay" block on a third down play send Luck to the ground in the backfield. Sowell is a good backup and probably a good person. It should be noted that he isn't the only player who had a rough day at the office.
A few quick thoughts:
– Donnie Avery showed again that he can get open, but he just doesn't have the greatest hands. It must be frustrating to continually get open and struggle so badly to hold onto the ball.
– A potentially game changing sack by Robert Mathis was negated by a huge gain by the Ravens.
– Flacco averaged 23.5 yards per completion.
– Reggie Wayne was drilled on a personal foul late in the game by Bernard Pollard. After Pollard committed yet another foolish penalty, taunting, Ed Reed, a respectable veteran, walked him to the sidelines. It lookse like Pollard is just as undisciplined as he was in Houston, and the Ravens are one of the highest penalized teams in the league.
– Andrew Luck had the most yards by a rookie quarterback in the playoffs since Sammy Baugh in he 1930s.
– Andrew Luck can tackle. We've seen it before
(do click that link, it's a classic). Hopefully, we won't have to see it as much next season.
– Luck's impressive work against all odds, with nary a pocket to stand in, was negated by a slew of drops from his receivers, including Running Back Vick Ballard's drop on fourth down, on the Colts' final chance.
The fact is, this was the playoffs, for a team that no one expected to be in the playoffs.
These Colts weren't particularly talented. They couldn't block. They could barely cover a receiver. They just weren't a very good football team. The only thing they did have, to set this season apart from that nightmare in 2011, was Andrew Luck. A quarterback makes a huge difference. He's the most important player on a football team, and the Colts have found a truly special one.
There will be much talk about what went wrong today. Every phase of the game went wrong at some point.
We should be talking about hope. The Indianapolis Colts should not have been here. They defied all odds. And they showed everyone that they have a foundation for a big future, one that will come sooner than expected. They won 11 games as a bad football team with an amazing quarterback and a few promising players. Imagine what they can do with an influx of talent.
The Colts will enter 2013 as a playoff-tested team. A playoff-tested team full of promise and…..cap space. Lookout, 2013, the Colts are coming, and they're building a monster.