With the Colts’ 3rd win of the season, it’s time to acknowledge the “Horse Heroes” of Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. These are players that went above and beyond their positional requirements and delivered an exceptional performance, in another winning performance to boot:
OLB Bjoern Werner: In Robert Mathis‘ return on the sideline, perhaps Bjoern Werner channeled his own “inner-Mathis”, as he was simply relentless as a pass rusher against Baltimore. He finished the game with 6 tackles, 4 QB hurries, and 2 sacks. Considering that he had 0 sacks on the season entering Sunday’s game, you realize this was a night and day performance from what we’ve been accustomed to seeing from the Colts’ young outside linebacker. Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco is probably still having nightmares of Werner in his facemask.
It wasn’t a case of just being in the right place at the right time either, as the advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus (PFF) gave Werner a +4.8 grade as a pass rusher, his previous high on the season was +2.4, doubling his output. His performance on Sunday elevated him to the 17th best OLB overall per PFF, not too shabby at all.
CB Vontae Davis: He’s being paid like a shutdown cornerback, and all season long, he’s quietly played like it. Davis doesn’t make much noise, because quarterbacks rarely challenge him, the sign of ultimate respect. Vontae Davis has been targeted 20 times on the season, consider that the Patriots’ Darrelle Revis, who is widely regarded as one of the best CB’s in the NFL, has been targeted more at 24 times (PFF).
But I’m clearly getting ahead of myself, let’s get back to Sunday’s game, where Davis simply made Joe Flacco pay all day, highlighted by an athletic interception that he took 29 yards on an impressive return. On the day, Davis was targeted by Flacco 5 times and gave up just 2 completions for 25 yards. Factoring in the interception, Flacco had a dismal day throwing at Davis, with a Quarterback Rating of 16.7.
P Pat McAfee: The average won’t show the boom (47.7 avg yds), because McAfee showed the touch on Sunday afternoon. In his 3 punts, he pinned the Ravens’ deep within their 20-yard line twice. The remaining punt, when his team needed him to “bring the boomstick” for field position, he belted a 56-yard punt, celebrating in fashion with a Happy Gilmore-like golf celebration.
S Sergio Brown: Filling in for the suspended LaRon Landry, Sergio Brown didn’t just replace the former, he may have generally outperformed him. Brown finished the day, fiilling up the box score with 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD, and 1 QB hit; flashing speed that we hadn’t seen from the position previously.
C Jonotthan Harrison: Don’t want to be overly hard on Harrison, who was making his first career start against a notoriously stingy Ravens’ defense, as an undrafted rookie. His struggles have been well-documented. However, he had a very shaky start to say the least. He had 3 miscues on snaps and wasn’t all that effective as a blocker. His PFF grade of -2.2 pretty much sums up his afternoon. Still, the potential is clearly there, and hopefully, this start was more about jitters.
KR Griff Whalen: Whalen had an almost fumble, an actual fumble, and made a terrible decision to take the ball out of the end zone 9 yards deep on a kick-off as a returner. It was a blip on what has otherwise been a pretty solid season of returning kicks for Whalen. Whether Whalen was doing his best “David Reed” impersonation, I’m not sure, but here’s wishing he got all of those misplays out of his system.
Referees: Normally, I’m not one to blame the refs, as there’s always other opportunities to win the football game. However, Walt Anderson’s crew was uncharacteristically bad all afternoon. Ravens’ CB Lardarius Webb was getting away with an awful lot of contact all game, including a collision which knocked down the Colts’ Reggie Wayne in the endzone on a potential touchdown completion. It reached it’s boiling point, when a phantom defensive penalty was called on Greg Toler in the 2nd half despite clearly not doing anything wrong.