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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson dives to recover a fumble in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson dives to recover a fumble in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Fumbles, field goals prove to be difference in Colts' 22-19 victory over Baltimore Ravens

Quarterback Gardner Minshew was trustworthy with the ball in his first start

Matt Gay, who signed an NFL kicker-record four-year, $22.5 million dollar contract this summer, has proved why he deserves to be paid every dollar that was offered his way. Gay drilled all five of his kicks on Sunday from 31, 54 and 53 yards three times. Gay has become the first NFL kicker to attempt and convert four 50-yard or further field goals in a single game.

Gay was helped by fellow elite kicker, Justin Tucker, who had the accuracy, but was short from 61 yards out which helped send the game to overtime. That kick by Tucker became just his first miss in 18 attempts in the final minute of regulation.

The success of Gay’s right foot and stunning lack of distance from Tucker’s were not the only reasons for the Ravens’ 22-19 loss to the Colts.

The Ravens fumbled the ball three times and lost two of those, one in their own section of the field, putting the Colts in the red zone and the other in the Colts red zone, halting what was shaping up to be a scoring drive. These three mishandles were in addition to a bad snap from Sam Mustipher that Lamar Jackson was able to fall on. The Colts were only able to capitalize off the Jackson fumble that gave Gay his first field goal of the day.

The Colts were down rookie phenom Anthony Richardson in this game Sunday that few analysts and reporters gave them a chance in.

Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew had other ideas in mind.

Minshew finished his outing with 227 yards on 27-for-44 passing with a touchdown to Zack Moss. He had zero turnovers and was sacked five times. Minshew was given plenty of assistance on the ground game by Moss who had career highs in carries (30) and yards (122). Minshew discussed how “tough” Moss was on Sunday and how “grateful to have him back” the Colts organization is.

Moss will continue to be the lead back in the Colts game plans until at least week five with running back Jonathan Taylor still on the PUP list. Trey Sermon, who was elevated from the practice squad this week following the release of Deon Jackson, will also continue to get snaps.

Minshew thanked the defense and special teams units, specifically Gay, for “giving us enough chances” and they did just that. Coming into this game the defense had been in the middle of the league in points allowed and turnovers caused, but yesterday the team showed a fire that kept this game in reach.

Following a careless and oblivious safety by Minshew that seemed to put the game into a dormant position, the Colts defense forced two punts, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs which would lead to the game-winning field goal. The defense, once again, was led by Zaire Franklin who exploded for 15 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Franklin’s 45 tackles leads the league and his emergence from last season to now has been one of the most important parts of the Colts’ jumpstart to this season. He got plenty of assistance from the defensive line who sacked Jackson three times, hit him another three times and forced two fumbles. 

Shane Steichen has been in an extremely rough situation this year as a rookie head coach who has had to deal with a rookie quarterback, a backup quarterback for seven quarters, and a running back situation that is far from perfect. Steichen has gotten up from every punch and recovered and found the next path of success. Close games can be won by the genius of a good coach or be lost by the mistakes of a bad coach — just look at Josh McDaniels and his SNF mishap for the Raiders. The Colts may have found their next genius in Steichen.

The Colts return to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday to face the 1-1 (playing on MNF) Los Angeles Rams. The team that many predicted to finish in the bottom half of the AFC South now leads the division and enters a stretch of games against the Rams, Titans, Jaguars and Browns who have a combined 4-6 record. It’s easy to overreact three weeks into the season, but this team could be sitting very pretty come November with a healthy Richardson and potentially the return of Taylor.

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