BALTIMORE—Winning ugly? Yup, they did it again.
The AFC's best team just can't seem to make it easy. Late defensive stops, opponent missed field goals, questionable calls concerning down, distance and location, all have helped the Colts to win their first nine games.
Indianapolis turned the ball over three times, and failed to take it away. They were outgained on offense for a majority of the contest, and it looked like a hint of imperfection was finally about to enter their season.
But some timely red zone defense and just enough offense allowed the Colts to beat the Baltimore Ravens 17-15 Sunday afternoon and M & T Bank Stadium.
Matt Stover-who returned to Baltimore for the first time since being cut last season-booted a 25 yard field goal to put the Colts in the lead, and linebacker Gary Brackett ended a Ravens' drive at at the Colts' 14-yard line with an interception inside the final three minutes.
This victory puts the Colts at 10-0 for the first time since 2005, and continues their stranglehold on the conference and the AFC South as they head to Houston next week.
It appeared like it might be a day without drama early on as Peyton Manning drove the Colts 87 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. The tight end today passed John Mackey for the franchise's record for catches by a tight end.
But the offense struggled to put together a drive for the rest of the half, as Baltimore added three consecutive field goals from Billy Cundiff to jump into the lead at 9-7. Manning helped right the ship late in the second, driving the Colts 80 yards and back into the lead when Joseph Addai scored from five-yards out to give the Colts a five point lead.
An opportunity existed early in the second half for Indianapolis as the offense drove down to the Baltimore ten yard line but Tom Santi fumbled the ball after making a catch at the goal line, giving the Ravens the ball back.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Colts defense made the biggest play of the game even though they lost the lead in the process. Baltimore had first-and-goal and the Indianapolis one, only to be turned away on three straight plays. Forced to settle for another Cundiff field goal, the Colts took advantage of the Ravens' missed opportunity, as they drove downfield to set up the go-ahead field goal from Stover.
Baltimore made one more drive to try and get the lead for good, moving all the way to the Colts 14-yard line before Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was intercepted on third-and-seven by Brackett. The Ravens got the ball back with 17 seconds left but defensive back Ed Reed tried to pitch on the punt return and the ball was recovered by the Colts.