BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens continue to win without their defensive leader. The Indianapolis Colts are running out of time in their bid to get a single victory without their offensive captain.
Terrell Suggs had three sacks and forced three fumbles, and the Ravens moved closer to securing their fourth straight trip to the postseason by defeating the winless Colts 24-10 Sunday.
Playing a fourth straight game without middle linebacker Ray Lewis, Baltimore (10-3) sacked Dan Orlovsky four times and allowed only 53 yards through the first three quarters. The Ravens are 4-0 while Lewis nurses a sore right toe, and the defense should get even better when he finally returns.
“Right now I think we’re all just doing our part holding the levee until the general gets back,” Suggs said. “That’s why I honestly think we’re playing the way we are.”
Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Ray Rice ran for 103 yards and a score to help the Ravens improve to 7-0 at home.
Baltimore is tied with Pittsburgh for the lead in the AFC North, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker because of their two wins over the Steelers.
“We have control of our own destiny,” Rice said. “We’re in the driver’s seat. As long as we keep winning, we’ll be fine.”
The Colts, on the other hand, just keep losing. Indianapolis (0-13) has three games left to nab a victory and avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to finish 0-16.
“We need to find a way to get our team better so we can get a victory,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “And not just one. We’re running out of time.”
The Ravens had lost eight straight to Indianapolis, but that was when Peyton Manning was healthy and at the top of his game. The 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback has yet to play this year because of a neck injury, and his absence has turned a perennial playoff team into a hapless, hopeless crew.
“It’s miserable. It’s not fun,” wide receiver Austin Collie said. “With the few games left, I don’t think we want to end the year on this note.”
Orlovsky, the third Colts quarterback to start this season, went 17 for 37 for 136 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times and hounded throughout the game by Suggs.
“He’s as good a pass rusher as I’ve played against,” Orlovsky said. “I can’t say anything bad about him as a football player.”
Suggs attributed Baltimore’s success to the schemes set in place by Chuck Pagano, who’s in his first season as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator. To emphasize the point, Suggs sarcastically made Pagano out to be clueless.
“If anybody trying to hire a head coach asks me, I’m going to tell them he (stinks),” Suggs said. “He’s a terrible coach and his players don’t love him. He don’t know what he’s doing when he’s calling a game.”
The game was far more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Baltimore led 17-3 at halftime and 24-3 in the third quarter, and the Colts drove 76 yards in the final two minutes in a drive that ended with Orlovsky throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme as time expired.
It was quite a drop off after Indianapolis scored 21 points in the fourth quarter at New England one week earlier.
“We were hoping to pick up where we left off,” Tamme said. “But their defense is so tough. They always play well.”
The Ravens needed less than five minutes to take the lead for good. After the Colts went three-and-out following the opening kickoff, Lardarius Webb returned a punt 27 yards to the Indianapolis 40 and Flacco capped a six-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
Baltimore’s next march covered 66 yards over 13 plays and ended with a 36-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff for a 10-0 lead.
The first quarter ended with the Ravens holding a 111-10 advantage in yardage and an 8-1 lead in first downs.
Nothing changed in the second quarter. Baltimore forced a punt and Flacco went 5 for 7 for 54 yards in a 10-play drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Rice.
Indianapolis finally got into Baltimore territory when Joe Lefeged returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards. Orlovsky then completed a fourth-down pass to Dallas Clark, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to make it 17-3 late in the half.
Baltimore went ahead 24-3 with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Flacco rolled to his right and was near the sideline when he threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta in the middle of the end zone.
Flacco went 23 for 31 for 227 yards and an interception.
Notes: Suggs has a career-high 13 sacks. … The Colts have only six INTs this season. … Flacco went over 3,000 yards passing and Rice eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing. … Smith’s TD gave him six, tying Jamal Lewis for most by a Ravens rookie. … Indy’s Dwight Freeney had two sacks to go over 100 for his career.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)