Two costly mistakes against Ravens show Colts have no room for error

INDIANAPOLIS -- Everything was going the Indianapolis Colts' way for just about two quarters against the Baltimore Ravens, the opponent that represented their biggest test so far this season.

The Colts defense had bottled reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense during the first half, holding them to 54 total yards and no points in the first 30 minutes of the game.


There usually is a but with the Colts.

They had two costly mistakes that led to 14 points, and then that stalwart defense started to wear down against the reigning NFL MVP and his teammates.

The Colts, who started the most grueling part of their schedule Sunday, couldn’t get it together on either side of the ball in the second half of their 24-10 loss to the Ravens on Sunday.

Indianapolis doesn’t have much time to regroup because it goes on the road to face AFC South counterpart Tennessee on Thursday. The Titans (6-2) beat Chicago on Sunday to take a one-game lead over the Colts (5-3) in the division.

To put into perspective how little room for error the Colts have, they were on their way to potentially taking at least a 10-0 lead over the Ravens when rookie running back Jonathan Taylor fumbled at Baltimore’s 35-yard line. Ravens safety Chuck Clark picked up the ball and returned it 65 yards for the touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.

That was Taylor's first fumble in 108 carries this season.

The Colts, again, had momentum going their way after defensive lineman DeForest Buckner forced a fumble at Indianapolis’ 7-yard line to preserve -- momentarily, at least -- their 10-7 lead. The game completely flipped in Baltimore’s favor after Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, who struggled with his accuracy all game, underthrew a pass to receiver Marcus Johnson. Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters grabbed the ball out of the air didn’t appear to have control of the ball before going to the ground, but Baltimore coach John Harbaugh challenged the play and the officials ruled that Peters took three steps to establish possession of the interception.

Baltimore used the interception to turn it into another touchdown to take a 14-10 lead.

Game over after that.

The Colts had the ball for a total of four plays and one yard in the third quarter, while the defense started to tire out against the Ravens, who played with more tempo and mixed in more of the passing game to go with their rushing attack.

After holding the Ravens to 54 yards in the first half, the Colts gave up 212 yards in the second half.

The problem the Colts faced Sunday and will continue to face this season is that their offense is not built to play from behind against playoff-caliber teams because they rely so much on shorter passes instead of stretching the field through the air.

QB breakdown: Rivers had played the best football of the season in the two games before Sunday -- wins over Cincinnati and Detroit -- but lacked accuracy for most of the game against the Ravens. Rivers, who often threw behind his receivers, finished 26-of-44 for 227 yards and no touchdowns. The 59-percent completion percentage was his lowest of the season.

Injury concerns: The Colts will likely go into Thursday’s game at Tennessee with questions surrounding the health of two offensive starters. Tight end Jack Doyle left the game in the first half after receiving a concussion following a nasty hit by Ravens safety DeShon Elliott. No penalty was called despite looking like there could have been one, as Doyle was hit in the head and neck area. Doyle will have to clear concussion protocol in order to play against the Titans. That might be tough to do due it being a short week. Receiver T.Y. Hilton missed the 11th game of his nine-year career with a groin injury suffered in the first half of the Week 8 game at Detroit.