Already its been stated several times that maybe just what the Colts needed was to have their backs against the wall. After all, it was just last season that a sixth-seeded hungry Steelers time came into the hostlie confines of the RCA Dome and out played the Colts on their way to a 21-18 win and a birth in the AFC Title game in Denver. After watching the events of Saturday in Baltimore, I am now convinced that the Colts will not go down that easy next Sunday, not matter who they play.
Tony Dungy should get a tremendous amount of credit for the last two games. His defense has played out of its mind as compared to the regular season, and Saturday against the Ravens they held them to two lousy Matt Stover field goals, one of which game from 51 yards. Overall, 244 yards to a Ravens team is not that bad, and that was coming off a solid outing the week before against the Chiefs when they allowed just 8 points. Also allowing just 83 yards on the ground could be the turning point of their season, even though it comes in the second round of the playoffs. A lot of the national experts felt that last week against Larry Johnson was a fluke, and that Jamal Lewis would have a big day Saturday. That was not the case, as Lewis had just 53 yards, and 18 came on one play.
Overall I felt that the Ravens got away from the run too fast. If you look at the way the offense went about their game plan, they ran the ball just 20 times, and threw 29 times. When the Ravens play their best, those numbers were reversed. They should have been pounding more with Lewis, and instead they insisted on trying to go down the field with Steve McNair, a guy that did not exactly strike fear in the hearts of the Colts secondary.
McNair only averaged just 5.2 yards per pass play, and was picked twice, and could have had two or three more. Again, a credit to the Colts defense, a group that entered the playoffs as the most maligned bunch of players that even made to the round of 16. Many felt that they would not even be able to get past the Chiefs, and now, with two solid games they will host a trophy that many felt was well out of their grasp after allowing 375 yards rushing to the Jags on December 10th.
They are not out of the woods yet. Standing in their way is either a testy Chargers team that has the best weapon in football in LT, or a Pats team that will enter the RCA Dome next week with two years of revenge on their minds and a QB that does not lose (only one time if he wins today) in the playoffs in Tom Brady. Plus Peyton will continue to have to make plays and take care of the ball. He was lucky only to have been picked twice Saturday and not about four times. He can thank All-World LB Ray Lewis for a couple of tips that actually helped him out.
So its on to the AFC Title game for the first time in three seasons for Dungy and the Colts. This time though they will be talking about something different this week instead of a high powered offense, and that is a defense that has finally stepped to the plate for the last two weeks.