Not much you can can really take away from this game. The Ravens obviously didn’t want to tip their hands too much, give away too much strategy for the Colts to pick up on next week. Also they did their best to prevents injuries to star players as Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Matt Birk and Ed Reed were sidelined after just two series. Haloti Ngata, Anquan Boldin and Terrell Suggs didn’t even dress for the season finale. Marshall Yanda, Bernard Pollard, and Ray Lewis were listed as inactive prior to the contest.
Vonta Leach and Kelechi Osemele left the game with injuries, but Coach Harbaugh said after the game it was nothing serious. I expect everyone listed there to be at full strength when the Colts come to town.
I guess if there is one thing to take from today, the Flacco haters got their wish and Tyrod Taylor got extended playing time. They got their wish and maybe we can put that ridiculous issue of Taylor over Flacco to bed. Taylor wasn’t bad, but if this game mattered then the fourth quarter pick-6 he threw would have been the deciding factor in the loss.
No harm no foul today. Bring on Indy.
The big story heading into this week for Ravens fans will likely be the return of Ray Lewis. Will this go down as his last home game? How will he impact the game?
On the other side of the ball, the Colts head coach Chuck Pagano made his return to the sidelines after his battle with leukemia. He led his team to a 28-16 win over the Houston Texans, who were the top seed at days start.
This will be a clash of two inspired football teams. Indy inspired by the toughness of their head coach. Inspired by his beating the odds, just like they want to do as a team. Baltimore will be inspired by the return of Lewis. If this is his last home game, they will want to send him out in style. Players on both sides will be playing on a high level.
It should be a good one.
Some initial questions from the Ravens perspective:
1) The Colts enter the game having won 9 of their last 11. They will come into the game as the proverbial team ‘with nothing to lose.’ Are they better than have been advertised? Did they make the most of a limited schedule? Both?
2) Indianapolis was 8th in sacks allowed (41). Will Baltimore be able to get to Luck?
3) McKinnie got time today for the Ravens, and understandably looked rusty. Any chance of seeing him get playing time (even just JUMBO sets) vs. the Colts?
4) The Colts were 28th in the league in rushing defense. Rice got the day completely off against the Bengals today. Against the Giants, Rice received 31 touches. Is there any reason not to expect a s similar work load against the Colts?
5) As mentioned, Yanda, Boldin, Ngata, Pollard, and Suggs each could have played today, but were inactive in order to give them as much additional rest as possible. (Basically the same thing for Birk, and Reed.) Obviously each will be expected back in the lineup against the Colts. The biggest question of today’s inactives will be Yanda, and how effective he will be with his high-ankle sprain. It will be interesting to see if the week off, provides for fresh legs for the others.