Happy New Year, Indianapolis Colts fans! Colts are back in the NFL playoffs in two years after finishing 2011 at 2-14 without Peyton Manning on the field, and finishing their just concluded 2012 NFL regular season at 11-5. Colts officially start their postseason, and their journey into Super Bowl XLVII as the fifth seed, as they are in Baltimore to play the fourth seed and 10-6 Ravens. Today's matchup is also the first playoff game between the teams since the Colts franchise left Baltimore to Indianapolis in the early morning hours of March 24, 1984.
Colts lost an opportunity to host a playoff game, and the AFC North division title, as the Texans defeated the Colts 29-17 back on December 16. Indianapolis however, clinched and earned their berth in the AFC Playoffs by defeating the Chiefs 20-16 in Kansas City the following Sunday on December 23.
This afternoon's game is more emotional to both the Colts and Ravens, as Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano returns to Baltimore where he was the Ravens secondary coach and defensive coordinator for four years between 2008 through 2011, and returned last week to the sidelines for the Colts season finale at home versus the Texans last week, since Week 3 of the 2012 regular season. Former Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell also faces his former team as the Ravens offensive coordinator.
Pagano was out of the sidelines for three months as he was diagnosed, and recovered from leukemia, while offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over the daily leadership of the Colts, and did a spectacular job in his tenure, leading the Colts to a 12-3 record, prior to Coach Pagano's return last Sunday. Colts hope Coach Pagano's inspiration and example in beating his leukemia and cancer, can carry with the team in the playoffs on their journey to Super Bowl XLVII.
Colts rookie QB, and #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft Andrew Luck was one of many factors for the Colts 11-5 record, compared to Peyton Manning's 3-13 record with the Colts in his rookie season. Luck may have been the most talented prospect since Manning, Dan Marino, or even John Elway, and he has already exceeded Manning's single-season NFL rookie record in completions with 339. Luck's 11-5 record is also by far the best record for a rookie NFL quarterback has ever accomplished, and his seven game-winning drives both in the fourth quarter, and in overtime are the most in a single season by any NFL QB since 1970. Luck however, must not get baited by the Ravens defense, as he also committed 18 interceptions during the 2012 regular season.
Reggie Wayne, who accomplished catching 100 receptions for the fourth time in his NFL career, Vick Ballard, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton may also make an impact for the Colts.
Colts lead the all-time regular season series over the Ravens 7 games to 3, and 9 games to three including winning two playoff games over the Ravens. Colts won the first game 26-21 at the RCA Dome back on October 13, 1996 since the original Cleveland Browns team moved to Baltimore. Colts last road win in Baltimore was more than three years ago, where they defeated the Ravens 17-15, back on November 22, 2009. Colts scoring in that game included a Manning 3-yard TD pass to Austin Collie, a Joseph Addai 5-yard TD run, and a 25-yd field goal from Matt Stover.
Colts two postseason wins over the Ravens were AFC Divisional Playoff Games. Colts won the first game 15-6 at M&T Bank Stadium back on January 16, 2007. Colts again defeated the Ravens three years later by the score of 20-3 back on January 16, 2010. In that game, Peyton Manning completed 30 of his 44 pass attempts for 246 yards, including two touchdowns and one interception on their way to defeating the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami after a 14-2 regular season record.
Indianapolis dominated Baltimore during Peyton Manning's career with the Colts, winning eight straight regular seaon games, before the Ravens halted the Colts winning streak with their 24-10 win in their last meeting back on December 11, 2011, while Manning was sideline recovering with his neck surgeries.
Baltimore started their season at 9-2, and eventually became the AFC North Division Champions, before losing four of their last five games. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is also the only NFL QB to reach the playoffs in his first five seasons. Ravens linebacker and future Hall-Of-Famer Ray Lewis also announced Wednesday he is retiring from the game after 17 years in the NFL.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are announcing the live TV commentary for The NFL On CBS, seen nationally in the US, and around the world, including WISH CBS 8 in Indianapolis, live on HD.
Bob Lamey, our 'Voice Of The Colts,' and Will Wolford are also announcing the live radio game play-by-play and color analysis, along with sideline reporter Kevin Lee, simulcast on Colts flagship stations WFNI ESPN SportsRadio 1070AM, and WLHK Country 97.1FM, and the Colts/Vectren Radio Network.
Sunny and clear skies at 49 degrees, feels like 45 degrees, is the local forecast at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the 1:05PM Eastern Standard Time kickoff, along with 42% humidity, 0% precipitation, and winds at 9 miles per hour.
Visiting Colts are wearing their matching white jerseys and pants, whhile the host Ravens are wearing their purple jerseys, and black pants.
NO injuries to both the Colts and Ravens, but let's hope our Colts can upset the Ravens in their 'nest,', and make this afternoon's contest Ray Lewis's last NFL game on the football field. Continue to be both 'Colts Strong,'and 'Chuck Strong', play safe and smart on the football field, and GO COLTS!!!!!
Colts @ Ravens AFC Wild Card Playoff Game Injury Reports:
Colts @ Ravens AFC Wild Card Pregame Playoff Reports:
Colts @ Ravens AFC Wild Card Playoff NFL Gamecenters: