This one was for all the Baltimore fans who wanted revenge against the traitorous Colts.
Baltimore’s current NFL team beat its predecessor Sunday, rallying for a 38-31 victory over Indianapolis and delighting the 68,898 fans, many who probably waited 14 years to root in person against the team that long ago abandoned the city.
“This was our opportunity to give something back to the fans. They’ve been awfully good to us,” said Raven Coach Ted Marchibroda, who coached the Colts in Baltimore and Indianapolis. “I hope they’re satisfied with the victory.”
Judging by the loud cheers as the clock wound down, the fans were appreciative.
“I think the fans here got a little bit of the short end of the stick, not necessarily from the Colts but from the league,” Raven defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said. “They just wanted a little bit of it back. I hope today they got that.”
Playing in Baltimore for the first time since Robert Irsay moved the franchise to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts (2-10) immediately made themselves at home in a hostile environment by taking a 17-3 lead in the first quarter.
But the Ravens (5-7) outscored Indianapolis 17-0 in the fourth quarter to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
After the final gun, Jim Harbaugh gave the game ball to former Baltimore Colt great Johnny Unitas, who rooted for the Ravens from the sideline.
“I just saw him standing over there and I thought he might appreciate having the ball, considering everything he’s done for this city,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh, who played for Indianapolis from 1994-97, was 16 for 25 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Ironically, he led the Colts to a 26-21 victory over the visiting Ravens in 1996.
Priest Holmes ran for 103 yards, including the go-ahead score on a 36-yard run with 13:07 remaining, as the Ravens registered their biggest victory--at least as far as their fans are concerned--since joining the NFL in 1996 following their move from Cleveland.
Marshall Faulk rushed for a career-high 192 yards and scored two touchdowns for Indianapolis. Faulk also went over 1,000 yards rushing (1,037) for the fourth time in five seasons with the Colts.
“I guess it’s a little more personal here because of the old ties,” Faulk said. “But get over it--you’ve got a team now.”
Indianapolis rookie quarterback Peyton Manning was 27 for 42 for a career-best 357 yards and three touchdowns despite losing top wide receiver Marvin Harrison (shoulder separation) in the first series. Torrance Small filled in and had nine catches for 153 yards. It was Manning’s ninth consecutive game with at least one touchdown pass.
“To me, that was his best game by far. It’s encouraging to see him play like that,” Indianapolis Coach Jim Mora said.
Despite the play of Faulk and Manning, the Colts fell to 0-6 on the road.
“It was loud, no question about it,” Mora said. “There were a lot of boos and I know they’re not real happy with our football team, but I didn’t feel like it was any more than you usually get on the road.”
The Colts were still in position to tie the game with 1:05 left when a Manning pass bounced out of Faulk’s hands into the arms of Raven defensive back Ralph Staten at the Baltimore 24.
With that, Baltimore fans started to celebrate.