Baltimore Ravens defense simply wore down

INDIANAPOLIS -- In the end, endurance was just as much as the reason why the Baltimore Ravens lost as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

An admirable effort by the Ravens' defense unraveled in the fourth quarter, when Luck completed 8 of 9 passes for 129 yards.

Through the first three quarters, Luck was was 1-of-7 for 21 yards on throws 15 or more yards downfield. In the final quarter, he was 4-of-4 for 107 yards.

None of the Ravens defenders used the excuse of being tired, but everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium saw them putting their hands on their hips in the final minutes of the game. This isn't a criticism of the Ravens' playing shape. It's more of an indictment on the terrible position that the offense continually put the defense in.

The Ravens' offense only converted 1 of 11 third downs (9 percent). That meant the defense was on the field for 38 minutes 43 seconds. That's over eight minutes more than they've had to be on the field in any game this season.

There were two instances where the Ravens' defense had a drive start inside their own 34-yard line because of turnovers (Joe Flacco interception and Jacoby Jones muffed punt return). But the Ravens held the Colts without points on two red zone drives with C.J. Mosley's interception at the goal line and Matt Elam's forced fumble at the Ravens' 10-yard line.

The difference in the game came down to the defense's inability to contain Luck on the run. In the fourth quarter, Luck scored on a 13-yard run, breaking arm tackles by Pernell McPhee at the 7-yard line and Darian Stewart at the 3.

Luck took advantage of a gap at the line created when defensive tackle Haloti Ngata rushed to the left and linebacker Elvis Dumervil went to the outside.

"We had a miscommunication on that play," Ngata said. "Andrew Luck is great at making plays like that. We knew that, but we just didn't cover it when he had a chance."