Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Those F--king Colts

The Ravens will look to end a 7-game skid to the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday night.

There's no getting around it. In the Ravens last 7 games against the Colts (including playoffs), they're 0-7 and in many of those games they've been absolutely dominated from start to finish.

You have to go all the way back to December 2, 2001 for the last time the Ravens beat the Colts. Ah, those were the days, when you could actually beat the Colts in a shootout, which is what the Ravens did that day, 39-27.

They racked up 368 yards of total offense, and held the Colts to a low-for-them 314 yards on offense. That said, the Colts were 6-10 that year, and it was the season where head coach Jim Mora went on his "Playoffs?" tirade that has become a sports talk and beer commercial staple, so it's not like the Ravens beat a powerhouse Colts team that year. But a win is a win, especially against the hated Colts.

But since then, the Colts have owned the Ravens like a house cat that gets in your way. You just give them your foot on their rear and they might bat at you, but in the end, you've had your way with it.

So in hopes to reverse the curse of the Colts, I'll take you through 8 years and 7 consecutive losses against the Indianapolis F--king Colts.

2002, 22-20. Ah, 2002. It's become the forgotten Ravens season. A year removed from their Super Bowl, the Ravens went through a quick rebuild that netted them an unimpressive 7-9 record, but beneath the surface, the Ravens were the NFL's youngest team. It was perhaps Billick's best head season as a head coach outside of the magical 2000 season and a year later, they made the playoffs. Coming into the game against the Colts, the Ravens were 2-2, having looked unimpressive in their first 2 games against the Panthers and Buccaneers before shocking the Broncos in a Monday night beatdown and then winning a close game against the Browns. I was on my honeymoon during this game, and missed it, but I kept checking the hotel bar's lone TV for updates. So I am not exactly an expert on this one. However, according to the boxscore, the Ravens hung with the Colts for the entire game, and even took a 20-19 lead in the 4th quarter on Jamal Lewis' second touchdown of the day. The Colts answered with a field goal to retake the lead 22-20. And on the last drive, QB Chris Redman lead the offense down the field for a Matt Stover FG attempt to win the game. He missed. How ironic.

2004, 20-10. 2004 was the year of Kyle Boller, as it was the one season he started every game at QB and the Ravens missed the playoffs, finishing 9-7. In this game, Boller failed to deal with a relentless pass rush by Dwight Freeney who treated Jon Ogden like a revolving door. Freeney sacked Boller twice and forced him to throw 2 interceptions. Jamal Lewis rushed for 130 yards, but it was all for naught.

2005, 24-7. It was the first game of the season and on ESPN to boot. After entering halftime tied at zero, Kyle Boller was injured in the 3rd quarter which resulted in perhaps the most controversial event in Baltimore sports fan history. Was Boller's injury cheered by the sellout crowd? Or were fans cheering Anthony Wright's entrance into the game? Wright, if you recall, had lead the Ravens to the playoffs in 2003 after Boller, a rookie, was injured. Anyway, the defense was unable to hold the Colts any longer, allowing them to score 24 unanswered points before the Ravens scored on a Wright to Daniel Wilcox garbage touchdown in the 4th quarter. The 2005 season didn't get any better, as the Ravens limped to a 6-10 finish.

2006, 15-6. This is the one that hurt, folks. After cruising to a 13-3 regular season record, the Ravens obtained a first round bye, and hosted the Colts, who'd beaten the Chiefs in the first round. It was as if the stars had aligned. The Colts, in Baltimore for the playoffs. Eliminate the Colts and it would go a long way to erase any leftover wounds from 1984, when the Colts moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis. The Ravens back in the Super Bowl was on everyone's minds. But Steve McNair played like complete crap, throwing 2 interceptions (including one in the endzone) and the Ravens only mustered 6 points, despite holding the Colts out of the endzone too. This loss elevated my hatred of the Colts to seeing-red levels, and to make matters worse, the Chargers, who had the #1 seed, lost to the Patriots, giving the Colts the AFC Championship Game at home. They fell behind the Patriots in the first half, but an epic comeback in the second half sent the Colts to the Super Bowl, where they beat the hapless Bears. Un-freaking-believable. The loss still hurts like Robbie Alomar striking out to end the 1997 ALCS still hurts.

2007, 44-20. A week before this game, the Ravens had almost beaten the undefeated Patriots on Monday Night Football. The Patriots would finish 16-0 in the regular season that year. Any hopes of doing the same against the Colts were erased quickly as they hopped out to a 30-0 lead before halftime. Kyle Boller was at his best, throwing 3 interceptions before Troy Smith relieved him late in the game. It was thankfully Boller's last game as a Raven, so it wasn't a complete waste.

2008, 31-3. Le'Ron McClain fumbled on the first Ravens drive and it was all she wrote. Flacco did his part in the loss, throwing 3 interceptions. It was somewhat of a landmark game, however, as the Ravens went on to finish the season 9-2 and shook Flacco from his rookie-season doldrums. Flacco played excellent down the stretch throwing 13 TD's and 5 INT after starting the season with 1 TD and 7 INT.

2009, 17-15. Again, I was out of the country, but managed to catch this game at an American-owned bar in Prague. I wish I would've missed it. The Ravens held the Colts to under 20 points, which should earn them a win just for that feat alone, but a missed Billy Cundiff field goal, a failed 1st-and-goal stand, and a late Flacco interception stopped the Ravens from being able to get the monkey, or Colt, off their backs.

So what will it be this Saturday? Number 8? Or will we finally be able to beat the Colts? The Ravens had previously never beaten the Patriots before finally winning against them last Sunday, so will the Ravens be able to continue exorcising demons this post season?

We can only hope.

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