INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Mike Vanderjagt didn't think he had been
kicking properly all season.
Question on the Ravens: Despite losing today, how has Billick been able to turn this team around?
The Ravens are a middle-of-the-pack team that can win one week against a quality team (like Denver) and then lose a close one. Ray Lewis is worth more than the Ravens' losing margin today (two points). With Lewis playing, they probably win this game. Whatever resurgence the Ravens might enjoy this season isn't due to Billick's coaching but rather to the player that Ray Lewis is.
Question on the Colts: Why weren't they able to finish drives with TDs?
The Colts have had several different No. 2 wide receivers this season. They need more consistency at the No. 2 receiver to take some heat off Marvin Harrison. The Colts played pretty well defensively today, creating five turnovers, which is something Tony Dungy has been emphasizing. The Colts' inability today to complete drives with TDs is not as much of an issue as their need to keep improving on defense.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
On Sunday, he got it right. Five times.
Vanderjagt's career high was capped by a 38-yard game-winner
that completed Indianapolis' last-minute comeback for a 22-20
victory over Baltimore.
"I haven't been real confident all year, but on Wednesday I
kicked some field goals and kind of realized what I was doing
wrong,'' Vanderjagt said. "To learn on Wednedsday is a good time,
because today I had a lot more confidence.''
There were no signs of Vanderjagt's concern entering Sunday.
He still carried the title of the NFL's most accurate kicker
despite going 5-of-7 in the Colts' first four games.
While the Ravens defense forced him to nearly match those
numbers in four quarters, Indianapolis never doubted Vanderjagt
would come through.
"He tells me all the time that he's the most accurate kicker in
the history of the league, so just get him close and he'll put it
through,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
The Colts (4-1) closed in many times against the Ravens' stout
defense, but struggled to put the ball in the end zone.
They instead relied on Vanderjagt's foot, and he produced with
field goals of 39, 50, 43 and 25 yards before hitting the winner,
and on a defense that proved nearly as formidable as Baltimore's.
The Colts stuffed Lewis, limiting him to a 3.6-yard average and
forcing seven fumbles, recovering two. They also pressured
Baltimore quarterback Chris Redman into a critical interception
with 22 seconds left in the first half that led to Vanderjagt's
50-yarder that made it 13-6.
"He'll look at the films and see that he's going to have to
produce in some key areas if you're going to win tight games like
this,'' Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I hated to give them
that last possession.''
Baltimore, playing without All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis for the
first time in 64 regular-season games, still played well most of
the day. The Ravens limited Edgerrin James to a career-low 43 yards
on 17 carries and, after allowing Peyton Manning to throw an
11-yard TD pass to Marcus Pollard on the game's opening drive,
forced the Colts to settle for field goals.
But it was a huge Baltimore defensive mistake that allowed
Manning to complete the comeback.
With a little more than a minute left and Indianapolis facing
fourth-and-10, Baltimore chased Manning from the pocket. He lobbed
an errant pass downfield for Qadry Ismail, the Ravens' all-time
leading receiver. When Ismail jumped for the ball, cornerback Gary Baxter plowed into him, drawing a 22-yard pass interference that
put Indianapolis at the Baltimore 42.
Ravens coach Brian Billick protested to no avail.
Dungy thought it was an easy call because Baxter had his back
turned to Manning. Baxter disagreed.
"I was just in a man-to-man coverage and I was running down the
field. I had my eyes on my man the whole time,'' Baxter said. "I
heard the team holler 'ball' and all I did was jump. It was a
So Manning got another chance and took advantage. He needed just
five more plays to put Vanderjagt in position for the winner,
giving the Colts their third straight victory.
Baltimore tied the score late in the third quarter when Jamal Lewis, held under control most of the day, walked in from the 5 on
Vanderjagt countered with two field goals to make it 19-13 early
in the fourth quarter before the Ravens got another 5-yard TD run
from Lewis. That made it 20-19 with 9:04 remaining.
The Ravens had a chance to run out the clock, but failed, and
Manning and Vanderjagt took advantage.
"Everybody told me how smooth my form is, so I would just go up
there and try to place it in there. I needed to finish, to be more
aggressive,'' Vanderjagt said. "I just told myself to kill the
Stover's 51-yarder matched the Ravens' team record,
which he set twice in October 2000. Stover previously hit
51-yarders against Washington and Pittsburgh. ... Colts punter
Hunter Smith hit a career-long 69-yard punt in the third quarter.
There was no return. ... James had rushed for 100 yards in 10
straight home games, but has now been held under 100 yards in two
straight at the RCA Dome. ... Manning passed Bert Jones to become
the Colts No. 2 quarterback in yards passing Sunday. Manning now
has 17,698 and trails only John Unitas' 39,768.
Drew Brees says he isn't bothered much by the fact he and the Saints haven't engaged in talks on a contract extension in about two months.
Drew Brees smacks a couple of softball home runs during his teammate Tim Lelito's charity softball game.
The NFL says it is close but still has yet to interview the four players named along with Peyton Manning in a report five months ago that linked them to PEDs.
ESPNDallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer discuss what Randy Gregory needs to do to have a long future with the Cowboys, plus a Dez Bryant-Russell Westbrook comparison.
ESPN Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson discusses how Kevin White looked in Chicago's OTA on Wednesday.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim says Preston Smith and the defense, including safety DeAngelo Hall, had a big day against the offense Wednesday.