Ray Lewis confident he'll return this season. Suggs named AFC Defensive Player of the…
Ray Rice ran roughshod over an overwhelmed Indianapolis Colts defense incapable of keeping up with his stride and cuts. Joe Flacco darted spirals to a variety of targets, dissecting an overmatched secondary for a pair of touchdown passes. And outside linebacker Terrell Suggs trounced offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, leaving the befuddled rookie standing still with his blend of power and speed as he sacked quarterback Dan Orlovsky three times and forced three fumbles. It was a thorough 24-10 beating engineered by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday over the winless Colts before 71,187 at M&T Bank Stadium, dominating them to snap an eight-game losing streak to a downtrodden former AFC South power missing injured star quarterback Peyton Manning. The victory boosted the Ravens to 10-3 for the second time in franchise history, maintains their place atop the AFC North and keeps them tied with the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top record in the AFC as they chase the top seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Since all their competitors for the top spot won this week, the Ravens gained no separation in the playoff race. "We have control of our own destiny," said Rice, who rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 46 yards. "We're in our driver's seat, but other teams are playing good football as well. So, you hope a team drops one. As long as we keep winning, we'll be fine." Improving to a perfect mark in seven home games this season, the Ravens have now won a franchise-record nine consecutive games at home and 17 of their past 18. With Manning out of the equation, the Colts (0-13) aren't even close to being a formidable opponent. "It's a different ballgame when you are playing against Indy, and Peyton Manning is standing on the sidelines," free safety Ed Reed said. "We'll take it, though. We'll definitely take it. We needed it." Despite the absence of All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the fourth consecutive game with a right turf toe injury, the Ravens' defense stonewalled the Colts. They gained only 167 yards of total offense, 50 on the ground. The Ravens were on pace to set a franchise record for fewest yards allowed with 91 surrendered with 2:18 remaining until the Colts' final drive of 76 yards for a meaningless touchdown to tight end Jacob Tamme against several backups and third-stringers as time expired. The Ravens have won all of their games with Lewis sidelined. "He is still the general of this team," Suggs said. "Right now, I think we're all just doing our part holding the levees until he gets back. That's why I honestly think we're playing the way we are." The Colts gained only 53 yards through three quarters and 47 by halftime, hounding Orlovsky into mistakes. He completed only 17 of 37 passes for 136 yards and was intercepted once by strong safety Bernard Pollard. The Colts were nearly prevented from scoring a touchdown for the second time in the past eight years. The Ravens assumed control immediately after a 27-yard punt return from cornerback Lardarius Webb, marching 40 yards on their first drive with Rice gaining 32 yards through the ground and air to get down to the Colts' eight-yard line. On the ensuing play, Flacco located speedy rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith in the right corner of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass. "I thought I had a good shot at getting the ball, so I just ran the route to the corner," said Smith, who caught his sixth touchdown of the season. "Joe made a great throw." The Ravens would boost their lead to 10 points on their next possession on a 36-yard Billy Cundiff field goal. After the first quarter, the Ravens had built a 111-10 yardage edge with eight first downs to the Colts' one. Flacco was particularly sharp in the second quarter, completing 5 of 7 passes for 54 yards on a drive capped by Rice's 10th touchdown run of the season that gave Baltimore a 17-0 lead. Now, Rice has rushed for 1,029 yards for the season. He tied Jamal Lewis' franchise record with his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. The Ravens rushed for 146 yards on 37 carries, and Flacco completed 23 of 31 throws for 227 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. "We were cooking on all cylinders," Rice said. "We passed it when we needed to pass it, and ran it when we needed to run it. "We've been victims of not bringing our best, and we've been beat. We wanted to come out and score to help our defense. We wanted to protect our home." The Colts settled for an Adam Vinatieri field goal late in the first half following a 51-yard Joe Legefed kickoff return. The Ravens would answer in the third quarter when Flacco had his pick of either throwing to tight end Dennis Pitta or Smith, who was trailing behind him in the end zone. Pitta snatched a seven-yard scoring pass out of the air and managed to avoid a collision with his teammate. "Man, that would have been bad," Smith said. "I saw the black helmet at the last possible second. Joe said he was throwing it to Pitta. We would have run into each other and the ball would have dropped in the end zone, but he caught the touchdown pass and that's all that matters." The drive was set up by Rice running it five times for 40 yards and a 21-yard reception by wide receiver Lee Evans as he tight-roped the sidelined. Then, Pitta and Smith nearly ran into each other. "When Joe threw it I felt someone on my back side," Pitta said. "I figured it was a defender and was bracing to get hit. Fortunately, it was just Torrey and he didn't try to make a play on the ball. He needs to share the wealth a little bit. I'm not sorry about taking it away from him." Unlike a week ago when the Colts mounted a late comeback in a loss to the New England Patriots with three touchdowns toward the end, the Ravens kept their foot on their throats. If the Colts lose their last three games, they'll become the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 along with the 2008 Detroit Lions. "Losing sucks," Orlovsky said. "Whether it's football, if it's rock-paper, none of us like to lose. There's nothing fun about losing." After dispatching the hapless Colts, the Ravens can win the AFC North division title and earn the top seed in the AFC provided that they win their remaining three games against the San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. There's no margin for error, though. "It's very small because if you lose this one or you lose that one, you never know how the tables will turn," Reed said. "That's why early in the season you have so much frustration losing to the teams that we lost to. At the end, everything changes." On a day where the Patriots and Texans won narrow games over the Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals in dramatic fashion, the Ravens acknowledge that they've engaged in some scoreboard watching. However, they didn't get any help Sunday. "It looked like there were a couple close games, couple of shots, looked like Houston might go down and they didn't, looked like New England might go down, and they didn't," Flacco said. "I'm not really banking on that anyway. I'm looking at the rest of the season saying we've got to win the rest of our games." . Suggs sizzles against Colts Linebacker making bid for NFL Defensive Player of the Year BALTIMORE – If Terrell Suggs keeps demolishing offenses the way he dismantled the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl outside linebacker will find himself zeroing in on NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. During the Ravens' 24-10 victory over the Colts on Sunday, Suggs sacked quarterback Dan Orlovsky three times and forced three fumbles. Now, Suggs leads the Ravens with a career-high 13 sacks with three remaining games and has also intercepted two passes. "Terrell Suggs was just a game-wrecker," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said . "He was a game-wrecker in the run. He was a game-wrecker in the pass rush. He's playing great football." Suggs dominated rookie offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, the Colts' prize first-round draft pick from Boston College. And the Ravens limited the Colts to 50 rushing yards. "We shut the run down early, and they had to start passing the ball," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "That's when Terrell Suggs went crazy." This marks the third game this season that Suggs has recorded three sacks. And the four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher has recorded seven sacks in the past four games while All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis has been sidelined with a right turf toe injury. "It only counts if we get to Indy and the confetti drops," Suggs said. "Right now, we are all just doing our parts holding levees until the general gets back. This is still Ray Lewis' team. He is still the general of this team. We can't wait until he gets back out there doing the things that he does great." Suggs hit Orlovsky so often that he became visibly gun-shy. "He's as good a pass rusher as I've played against," Orlovsky said. "I can't say anything about him as a football player." About the only thing that didn't go right was the Ravens' failure to recover any of the three fumbles that Suggs caused. "We have to start finding them," Suggs said. "It's chaos out there. It's like ‘The Matrix' out there with a little bit of ‘The Inception.' It's a little bit crazy. We're just going to keep striving to get better." What does it look like from the vantage point of the secondary with Suggs leading the charge as the Ravens lead the NFL with 45 sacks. "Any time you get the front seven eating like their eating, those jokers want their supper," strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "It's exciting for us." CUNDIFF COMES THROUGH: Despite a sore left calf, Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff managed to kick effectively enough Sunday. He connected on his lone field goal try from 36 yards and converted three extra points. The only limitation on Cundiff was not kicking off in the second half as punter Sam Koch took over kickoffs after halftime. "It was one of those things we have to be very careful about," Cundiff said. "That was the mindset of the game. If I can't kick off, then we've got Sam and he can do that. With my calf, I knew I could kick field goals. It was just the stress on the kickoffs. I felt like it wasn't my best day, but it was good enough that I could kick." Cundiff got injured Thursday and missed practice Friday, returning Saturday. The Ravens brought in former Pro Bowl kicker Shayne Graham for a tryout Friday, but wound up not signing him because Cundiff's condition improved. "We needed to make sure we took care of it," Cundiff said. "We were very cautious with it." Cundiff expressed confidence that he'll be able to kick next week against the San Diego Chargers. "I'm going to kick next week," he said. "It's just a matter of seeing how things progress this week." Cundiff now ranks second on the Ravens' all-time scoring list ahead of Jamal Lewis with 286 points, ranking second to Matt Stover's 1,464 points. Koch was impressed with how Cundiff did given the circumstances. "He stroked the ball really well," Koch said. "He still got height on the ball. He just wasn't able to turn on the ball the way he wanted to. I was able to take the pressure off him and the possibility of making it worse." RICE THRIVING: For the third season in a row, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has rushed for 1,000 yards. He's up to 1,029 rushing yards and leads the AFC with 10 touchdown runs. He has also caught 62 passes for 593 yards and two scores. "It means a lot to me," Rice said. "Anytime I do something, I give my credit to the offensive line. To do three straight, it does say something consistency-wise. I try to just stay the course. Coach Wilbert [Montgomery] was talking about it's a great accomplishment, but I know there's a lot more football left, and I always do my reflecting on how the season played out a couple weeks after the season. .. "I have to say I'm pretty fresh right now considering the amount of workload I had in the first half of the season. I'm not saying I saved my best for the end of the season, but I'm doing a great job of keeping myself fresh. I get a great relief when Ricky Williams is in there." INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens reported no new injuries. Center Matt Birk said his right shoulder that he injured last week held up fine. "It feels great," he said. "We won." SERGIO SIGHTING: It was a rare occurrence as outside linebacker Sergio Kindle was active for the second time this season. He played at the end of the game on defense and also lined up on special teams, including the kickoff team, punt return team and kickoff return team. "Been working too hard not to be out there," Kindle said. "I was just waiting for my time to come. When it did, I had to make the best of it." Kindle registered no statistics, but seemed to play well. The former second-round draft pick hopes the coaches are noticing progress from him after missing his entire rookie season with a fractured skull. " That has to be it," he said. "They won't put you out there if they don't think you're prepared. I know I've been working my tail off. So, it's evident that I've progressed from the Jets game to now." He lined up at outside linebacker and got off the ball quickly, but didn't get to the quarterback. "I don't think I put my best rush forward," he said. "Maybe nerves, because I'm a speed rusher and I'm a slender defensive end. The other guy's pretty big and I'm running down the middle. That's an automatic loss. I've just got to get back to what I do best." Kindle is hoping he'll remain active going forward after becoming a fixture on the inactive list for the majority of the season. "Definitely," he said. "That's the plan." LEACH PLAN: Rewarding him for the dirty work he does as a lead blocker, fullback Vonta Leach was given three carries and rushed for 14 yards. He also caught a pass for seven yards for a first down. "They threw a dog a bone every once in a while," Leach said. "It felt good. That's appreciation." For the season, Leach has 11 carries for 34 yards and 12 catches for 51 yards. "I could always run the ball, I was a former running back in high school," Leach said. "That's nothing that I can't do. It's pretty good to give the dog a bone every now and then." RECORD TIED: Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith tied running back Jamal Lewis' franchise rookie record for touchdowns with his sixth scoring catch of the year. The former University of Maryland standout is second in the NFL among rookies for touchdowns behind Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who has seven. Smith finished with five catches for 48 yards. "Every route is an important route," Smith said. "It's part of being a receiver. I've only run past guys a couple of times this year. The majority of my catches have been underneath. It's something I'm learning to d, and I want to be great at." THREE IN A ROW: Joe Flacco eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark Sunday, his third consecutive year he's hit that milestone. Flacco now has 3,122 yards, 15 touchdown passes and nine interceptions this season. The Ravens were well-balanced in terms of run to pass against the Colts. "We did well," Flacco said. "We had some success in both. It wasn't like we were getting stoned in the passing game and stoned in the running game, and had to pick between one. We were actually able to be successful in running the ball and in throwing the ball, and we did both of those." Flacco was intercepted by cornerback Joe Legefed in the end zone. He was also almost picked off by safety Antoine Bethea, but he dropped a potential interception. "If I would have caught it, I would have been off to the house, but you have to finish those," Bethea said. "That play right there was big. It could have changed the game. They went in and scored. It was a big play. I should have had it." RED-ZONE SUCCESS: The Ravens converted 3 of 4 red-zone opportunities Sunday and have 10 touchdowns in their past 17 red-zone shots over the past five games. "It's something that we can definitely get better at and it goes back to our overall killer instinct," Ravens center Matt Birk said. "When we get teams down, we have to put them away. There's no reason for us to keep it within striking distance." R. LEWIS SIDELINED: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis was deactivated for the fourth game in a row due to a right turf toe injury. He's expected to return next week against the San Diego Chargers. Dannell Ellerbe started again at middle linebacker, and inside linebacker Jameel McClain led the defense with eight tackles. "Everybody is just depending on each other," McClain said. "We're making sure we depend on each other to do what we have to do. TOUGH MATCHUP: Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney sacked Flacco twice, beating offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie once. McKinnie has been playing against Freeney since he was at the University of Miami and the Colts star pass rusher was at Syracuse. "We go way back," McKinnie said. "He got one on me, but it was still a great battle. We know we both have to bring our ‘A' game. His specialty is the pass rush. I'm a shot putter and he's a sprinter." FU MANCHU: For the second time in three games since growing a Fu Manchu mustache also sported by Flacco and Koch, tight end Dennis Pitta caught a touchdown pass. "The magic continues," Pitta said. TAYLOR MADE: The Ravens unveiled another play with rookie backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the field. He lined up at wide receiver as Flacco threw a swing pass. "They got me on the field," said Taylor, who rushed for two yards last week out of the shotgun with Flacco lined up at wide receiver. "It could have come my way. I love being out there. Every time I get a chance, I'm ready to make a play." EXPECTING: Flacco confirmed that his wife, Dana, is pregnant with their first child. The couple is excited, but want the sex of the baby to be a surprise. QUICK HITS: Cornerback Chris Carr missed his third consecutive game with a back injury. … The Ravens also scratched rookie wide receivers LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss, nose guard Brnadon McKinney, rookie running back Anthony Allen hamstring) and rookie linebacker Chavis Williams.The Colts deactivated quarterback Peyton Manning (neck surgery), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (groin), defensive back Mike Holmes, linebackers Kevin Bentley and A.J. Edds, offensive tackle Quinn Ojinnaka and defensive end Jerry Hughes. … The Ravens' game captains were running back Ricky Williams, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and strong safety Tom Zbikowski. Zbikowski had a 30-yard kickoff return, his longest of the season. Former Ravens and Colts coach Ted Marchibroda attended the game. … Wide receiver Lee Evans caught his fourth pass of the season, a 21-yard sideline pattern. "It's good to be out there," said Evans, who now has 381 career catches for 6,008 yards. "I think we did a good job. We completed some passes outside and ran the ball effectively all game. We got into a good rhythm." . Baltimore Ravens Report Card Quarterback: B Joe Flacco played well, adeptly distributing the football to his backs, wide receivers and tight ends as he completed passes to seven different targets. He went 23 of 31 for 227 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a 102.5 quarterback rating, but should have at least one more pick on an errant throw. Running back: B-plus Ray Rice controlled the tempo and the momentum, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. It's his second consecutive 100-yard game and his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He also caught a team-high six passes for 46 yards. Receiver: B-minus Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith caught five passes for 48 yards and one touchdown. Anquan Boldin contributed five passes for 57 yards. And tight end Dennis Pitta caught a touchdown. Offensive line: B Joe Flacco was only sacked twice. Although offensive tackle Dwight Freeney beat left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie for one of his two sacks, Michael Oher did a good job of containing Robert Mathis. Defensive line: B-minus Cory Redding had five tackles and a sack and was unblockable for most of the game. Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones all had fairly quiet games. Jones failed to recover a fumble. Linebacker: A Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded three sacks and three forced fumbles and is up to 13 sacks for the season. With middle linebacker Ray Lewis out for the fourth game in a row with a right turf toe, Jameel McClain led the defense with eight tackles. The Colts rushed for only 50 yards. Secondary: B-minus Strong safety Bernard Pollard intercepted his first pass of the season. Lardarius Webb had five tackles. Cary Williams and Jimmy deflected two passes apiece. Dan Orlovsky didn't test Ed Reed deep as he completed only 17 of 37 passes for 136 yards and one insignificant touchdown for a 53.4 quarterback rating. Special teams: B-minus Billy Cundiff hit a 36-yard field goal despite a left calf injury that prevented him from handling kickoffs in the second half. Lardarius Webb averaged 19.7 yards on three punt returns. Sam Koch averaged 48.3 yards per punt. And Tom Zbikowski had a 30-yard kickoff return. However, the kickoff team allowed Joe Lefeged to average 30 yards on four kickoff returns. Ravens take care of business against Colts The Baltimore Ravens continue to take care of business in their pursuit of home-field advantage for the playoffs, winning again Sunday as they remain tied for the top record in the AFC with the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here's how the Ravens (10-3) manufactured their 24-10 victory over the winless Indianapolis Colts, a routine win that breaks an eight-game losing streak to the former AFC South power that has completely nosedived without Peyton Manning: 1. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is building a late campaign for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. He recorded three sacks and three forced fumbles, harassing beleaguered Colts quarterback into miscues. Orlovsky completed only 17 of 37 throws for 136 yards, one touchdown in garbage time and an interception for a 53.4 quarterback rating. Defensively, the Ravens stonewalled the Colts as they mustered only 167 yards of total offense, a dozen first downs, 50 rushing yards and went 2 for 14 on third downs. 2. Versatile running back Ray Rice rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, his second consecutive game over 100 yards after gaining a career-high 204 yards a week ago against the Cleveland Browns. Rice surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive year, tying the franchise record established by Jamal Lewis. He has rushed for 1,029 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns, also catching 62 passes for 593 yards and two scores. 3. Joe Flacco was efficient, completing 23 of 31 passes for two touchdowns and one interception for a 102.5 quarterback rating. He spread the football around, finding Torrey Smith five times for 57 yards and a touchdown and Anquan Boldin five times for 57 yards with his second touchdown pass delivered to tight end Dennis Pitta. The Ravens had 358 yards of total offense, 24 first downs and converted 7 of 13 third-down opportunities.
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