The loss, their 12th of the season, has guaranteed them a top-three pick in next spring's NFL draft. At this point in the season, draft positioning outweighs victories for Indianapolis. The Colts, depending on what happens in their season finale against Houston on Dec. 31 and what the New York Giants do in their final two games, could move up to the second spot in the draft.
Despite the season-long struggles, coach Chuck Pagano, as he pointed out earlier in the week, said the Colts were playing to win, not purposely starting a youth movement in their final two games. The Colts went toe-to-toe with a Ravens team that needed the victory to remain in position to make the playoffs.
Indianapolis put itself in position to tie the game when rookie linebacker Anthony Walker burst up the middle and blocked Sam Koch's punt with 2:36 left in the game. Fellow rookie Tarell Basham recovered the loose ball at Baltimore's 27-yard line. The blocked punt was the first by the Colts since they had one against the Steelers in Week 8 of 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Colts' attempt to at least tie the game ended when Jacoby Brissett's pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton was broken up by Ravens cornerback Maurice Canady at Baltimore's 5-yard line. It looked like Canady had his arm on Hilton, who was clearly upset about the non-call. The Colts are on a six-game losing streak and haven't scored more than 17 points in any of those games.
As trying as this season has been on the Colts, the one thing they haven't done is quit on Pagano, who is trying to do everything he can to hold on to his job, despite having 17 players put on injured reserve this season.
The Colts had a field goal blocked, and Adam Vinatieri missed a 60-yard field goal attempt as the first half expired. To combat those misfortunes, rookie Nate Hairston was called for two third-down penalties that extended the drive, and the Ravens got what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Colts, who will miss the playoffs for the third straight season, need to improve their roster before thinking about the postseason, even if quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) is completely healthy next season.
Selecting third puts the Colts in prime position to select NC State pass-rush specialist Bradley Chubb. The Colts have registered just 23 sacks this season. Moving up to second will help Indianapolis if it wants to acquire more picks by trading the selection to a quarterback-hungry team and sliding down some spots in the first round.
The Colts lost the game Saturday but helped themselves in the draft.