If the Ravens expect to win on Sunday, they need to do something they have failed to do in nearly 20 years of games against the Colts:
ACTUALLY PLAY WELL
I pulled various numbers from every game Baltimore has played against Indianapolis since 1996. The results are horrifying.
Let me just recite "a few" numbers and you can judge for yourself how unacceptable our track record is against this team.
Since the team's inception, the Ravens are 4-9 against the Colts in 13 contests.
In TWELVE of them, the Ravens have committed at least one turnover. They are 3-9 in those games.
In nine of these contests, the Ravens produced a negative turnover differential. They are 1-8 in those games.
In seven of these games, they suffered a -2-turnover differential or worse. They are 0-7 in them, two of which were in the playoffs.
In six of these contests, they lost by at least seven points.
In four of them, they were blown out by at least 14 points.
In one game, they had a turnover differential of -5 (!!!) and lost by 28. This was in 2008 on one of the strongest Ravens' teams in franchise history.
In the 2009 regular season, trailing by two points, the Ravens committed two turnovers in the final three minutes. The first was an interception at the Colts 14-yard line to cost them a chance for an easy game-winning score. On the second, after stopping the Colts, they FUMBLED and lost the punt. Indianapolis would kneel to end the game 17-15 and finish the season with a 14-2 record. Oh, also the Ravens kicked five field goals in this game, scoring no touchdowns.
In the 2011 season, after the Colts were exposed as the most overrated one-man show in NFL history, the Ravens still lost the turnover battle with a margin of -1 to a team that finished 2-14 and generated only 17 turnovers on the year. Sure, the Colts had three fumbles of their own and recovered all of them but still. The Ravens are mistake-prone and unlucky even against the worst team Indianapolis has ever put on a field.
If I haven't ruined your day yet, don't worry, I'm just getting started
In three playoff games against Indianapolis, they have amassed 10 turnovers.
In the 2006 AFC Divisional Playoffs, during Manning's best season by QBR in his career, Baltimore's defense held Manning and the Colts to one of the five worst games of his career by passer rating. It is still the most heroic defensive performance that the Baltimore Ravens have ever produced.
Those other four games among Manning's five career worst? The Colts LOST them all by at least 10 and lost three of them by at least 35 (!!!) points. This playoff game against the 13-3 Ravens who totally shut down the two-time MVP? Oh, Indianapolis won it by two scores 15-6, in which the Ravens committed four turnovers, including an interception at the Colts' one-yard line.
During the 2009 AFC Divisional Playoffs, Baltimore played so badly I had to write a #TBT article about it just to remind people of how good the 2009 team actually was and to defend Flacco in a game he has long been unfairly maligned. Baltimore committed four turnovers with a -3-turnover differential. They fumbled three times, losing two of them. One of those would have been a 50-yard gain. On the other, the Ravens intercepted Manning, ran it back 38 yards, and fumbled it back to the Colts. Unable to do anything offensively, the Ravens also threw two interceptions but both came in desperation time late in the fourth quarter with less than five minutes to go. Instead of moving on to play Mark Sanchez in the title game, they went home despite producing the same number of yards, double the rushing yards as the Colts, and limiting the 14-2 Colts to just THREE points in the second half.
In the 2012 season, the Ravens played a home playoff game against another overmatched Colts team with the point differential of a seven-win team. Baltimore fumbled twice, deep in Colts territory, to keep Indianapolis competitive until the fourth quarter when they finally put Indy away late after letting the outcome remain in doubt for far too long.
In their four wins over Indianapolis since 1998, ALL of them were played at home in Baltimore.
In these four wins, the records of the losing Colts teams were as follows: 3-13, 6-10, 2-14, and 11-5 and I already mentioned how those 2012 Colts had a true performance level of a seven-win team.
In only TWO out of 13 contests have the Ravens ever had a positive turnover margin against the Colts. One of them was in 1998 during Manning's rookie year against the 3-13 Colts, which they narrowly won 38-31. The other was the aforementioned 2009 regular season game. Keep in mind it is not as if Baltimore hasn't generated turnovers of their own on defense — they have averaged one per game against them, 13 in all.
Finally, only once have they ever played 60 minutes against the Indianapolis Colts without a turnover. It was so long ago, Jim Harbaugh was quarterbacking the team.
We Demand Better and It Needs to Start Sunday
Folks, there is just one conclusion we can draw from this — and it is not that Peyton Manning has "owned" the Ravens with his 8-2 record or anything like that. Manning has actually played many of his worst games against Baltimore's defenses and yet won practically all of them.
No, the only conclusion possible is that, against Indianapolis, the Ravens as a team, but especially the offense, have repeatedly shot themselves in the ass with turnovers against a team that was nearly always good enough to punish them for mistakes. Only when the Colts were not any good did the Ravens ever actually win the game. They have failed, EVEN ONCE, to play a complete game against them that one could feel good about, win or lose.
Unless, of course, you count their narrow 1998 victory against the terrible 3-13 Colts, which I most definitely do not count.
Simply put, they've sucked against the Colts for 18 years, and frankly, it's unacceptable. More is expected. Better is demanded.
It must start Sunday. I hereby challenge the Ravens to not become the cause of their own demise — for once.