INDIANAPOLIS – What we had was a basic disagreement on what constitutes an interception.
Philip Rivers knows ‘em when he sees ‘em. He’s suffered 205 in his 17-year career, 26th-most in NFL history.
But it’s No. 205 that had him a bit irritated and contributed to the Indianapolis Colts’ 24-10 loss to Baltimore Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After his defense forced a fumble at the Indy 1 and given the offense possession at the 23 early in the third quarter, Rivers looked for a quick strike to Marcus Johnson down the right sideline. However, his underthrown pass found the hands of cornerback Marcus Peters, who appeared to juggle the football as he backpedaled and fell to the turf.
The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass, which Ravens coach John Harbaugh challenged. The replay booth ruled Peters had gained control before he fumbled, which the Ravens recovered.
This from Al Riveron, the NFL’s vice-president of officiating: “After review, we have clear and obvious visual evidence where the defender controls the football, takes three steps, fumbles the ball and then is ultimately recovered by the defense. Therefore the ruling on the field was changed to an interception and the defense keeps the ball first-and-10.’’
Again, Rivers didn’t see it that way.
“No, I didn’t,’’ he said. “It has gotten so really jacked up of how the catch rule is. Nobody that has played any amount of football or that has been around the game watched that and thought that was a catch, including the guy that dropped it.
“But you know, you can slow it down to milliseconds and you can just make it a technicality about three feet touch the ground even though you know somebody that is sitting back watching who has probably never thrown a football in his life gets to call it.’’
That mini-tirade came during Rivers’ post-game conference call, and was followed by a few other questions. But before finishing, he returned, unprompted, to the controversial interception.
“I want to go back to on the interception because I’ll probably get in trouble for saying that about a guy who has never thrown a football,’’ he said. “But they called it an interception, so it’s an interception.
“Bottom line is I shouldn’t have thrown the ball or shouldn’t have thrown it short. You throw it short, you leave it up to other people’s hands and you never know what will happen.’’
The Ravens capitalized on the interception to score touchdowns on their next two possessions and ease into a 21-10 lead.
Despite getting little done in the second half, the Colts were in position to make amends in the fourth quarter. Trailing 21-10, they faced a fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 16 with less than 6 minutes remaining.
Instead of having Rodrigo Blankenship attempt a 34-yard field goal and narrowing the deficit to 21-13 – a one-score game – coach Frank Reich went for it. Rivers was under immediate heavy pressure from Matthew Judon and unable to deliver the football to tight end Trey Burton.
“It’s a touchdown if I get it off,’’ Rivers insisted. “We knew that they liked to run zero pressure. We knew I was going to have to drift and make the throw. It was just kind of selling out for all or nothing there.
“We trust Frank and the staff and the decision we made there. I mean, you can’t kick. You still have to score and go for two.’’
Reich didn’t second-guess himself.
“I was thinking touchdown because we needed two scores,’’ he said. “If we would have needed one score, I would have ran it and taken the safe call, but it really was a play that we felt really good about.’’
Darius Leonard was a game-long catalyst as the Colts’ defense dealt with Baltimore’s diverse offense. The All-Pro linebacker finished with 15 tackles, 13 of them solos.
Leonard and the defense were especially solid in dealing with the Ravens’ No. 1-ranked running attack. Baltimore averaged 178.7 yards in its first seven games. It was limited to a season-low 110 yards on 38 attempts (2.9 per carry).
“I think they rushed for 110 yards total,’’ Leonard said. “That can’t happen. We have to get off the field. We have to make a play somehow.’’
The Ravens were limited to 18 yards on 10 attempts in the first half.
It marked yet another solid performance by a Colts’ defense that entered the game ranked 2nd against the run. They finished with nine tackles for a loss for a second straight game. Seven different players had a least one; Al-Quadin Muhammad and Grover Stewart had two each.
Doyle forced from game
Jack Doyle didn’t return after sustaining a concussion late in the second quarter. The veteran tight end was injured when safety Chuck Clark delivered a blow to Doyle’s head on an incomplete pass. There was no penalty on the play.