Colts-Ravens scouting report
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Colts on offense: Rookie Andrew Luck came as advertised, no? The first overall pick has been pretty spectacular this season, throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs. The 6-foot-4-inch, 234-pounder has the poise of a 10-year veteran. He processes information quickly, stands in the pocket bravely, and delivers accurate spirals. He is also deceptively athletic and will make plays with his legs. He is not infallible, however, as he did throw 18 picks. Luck is one smart cookie, as he became fast friends with Reggie Wayne. A 12-year vet who knows a thing or two about playing with a great QB, Wayne had a great season, catching 106 balls for and 1,355 yards. He is still slick. Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton is a playmaker. He’s quick and shows great open-field vision. Rookie tailback Vick Ballard (he’s bullish) has really come on.
Ravens on defense: This aging unit still has some of the league’s top playmakers, including massive nose man Haloti Ngata (6-4, 340), inspirational linebacker Ray Lewis (coming off triceps injury), mouthy linebacker Terrell Suggs (he has exceptional range and power), and incomparable safety Ed Reed. There’s only one No. 20, but you’ll swear there are several.
Ravens on offense: Ray Rice is the sparkplug that starts this engine. The 5-8, 212-pound tailback runs with exceptional power and balance. He runs so low and so swiftly that he makes it nearly impossible to get clean shots on him. Rice deflects hits, slides off defenders, and always keeps those muscular legs moving. QB Joe “Cool” Flacco is among the streakiest players in the NFL. When he’s on, he will shred secondaries. When his confidence is shaken early, he has a hard time recovering. Flacco (6-6, 245) has a great arm and will fit balls into tiny windows. But he’s about as mobile as a giant sequoia. Rugged receiver Anquan Boldin has the uncanny ability to always get open. Torrey Smith has speed to burn and has cut down on his lapses in concentration. Dennis Pitta is a good receiving tight end and Rice is terrific on screens.
Colts on defense: Unheralded linebacker Jerrell Freeman (you’ll know more about him after this game) has collected 145 tackles. Fellow linebackers Pat Angerer (he has deceptive speed) and Kavell Conner (he’s explosive) are solid. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will bring pressure. Defensive backs Antoine Bethea and Vontae Davis are consistent playmakers.
Special teams: Adam Vinatieri is pretty good — but you knew that. The most clutch kicker in NFL annals hit on 26 of 33 field goal attempts, including 4 of 7 of 50-plus yards. He was 9 of 10 from 40-49 yards . . . Pat McAfee averaged 47.9 yards per punt . . . Deji Karim averaged 36.4 yards on nine kick returns, including a 101-yard TD last Sunday vs. Houston . . . Hilton averaged 11.5 yards on punt returns and had a 75-yard TD . . . Baltimore’s Justin Tucker connected on 30 of 33 field goal attempts, including a long of 56 yards . . . San Koch had a 47.1-yard average on punts . . . Jacoby Jones is an elite returner. He returned two kickoffs (including a 108-yarder) and one punt for scores.
Miscellany: Colts franchise returns to Baltimore (no Mayflower trucks were used to haul the equipment) . . . Colts are 2-0 vs. Ravens in postseason . . . Ravens coach John Harbaugh (he always looks like somebody stole his lunch money) is 5-4 in playoffs . . . Postseason debut for Indy coach Chuck Pagano, who previously served as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator . . . Colts have won 9 of last 11 games . . . Suggs has 10 career postseason sacks.