INDIANAPOLIS—Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is causing more heartache for Baltimore fans these days than Bob Irsay.
Allowing the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player to throw two touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the first half, the Ravens were once again undone by Manning in a 20-3 loss to the top-seeded Colts in an AFC divisional playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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The Colts (15-2) stopped their run of abrupt exits in the playoffs as a high seed -- they had been 0-3 after first-round byes -- and advanced to play the winner of today's San Diego Chargers-New York Jets game in next Sunday's AFC championship.
By the end of the night, it was another painful reunion with the Colts, who were moved from Baltimore on March 28, 1984, (9,425 days ago) by Irsay.
"We didn't play well enough to win this game on this day against this team," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
The loss hit Reed so hard that it could be his last. Standing at his locker after the game, Reed, 31, said it's "50-50" whether he retires. The Pro Bowl safety has been dealing with a nerve impingement in his neck for two years.
He nearly turned the game around twice in the third quarter. But his first interception ended with him fumbling, and his second one was negated by Corey Ivy's pass-interference penalty.
Manning has beaten the Ravens eight straight times, including twice in the playoffs. He stopped their Super Bowl run in January 2007 despite not having a stellar game. And he did it again Saturday in more Manning-like fashion.
His decisive blow came in the final two minutes of the first half, when he threw both of his touchdown passes to take a 17-3 halftime lead. Manning completed 30 of 44 passes for 246 yards against a Ravens secondary that had lost two starting cornerbacks during the regular season.
"If you give elite quarterbacks any air, they're going to take advantage," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "That's something we didn't do last week against Tom Brady and did against Peyton."
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't look injured as he did last Sunday, but he still didn't look like himself. He nearly threw an interception in the end zone on the first drive (which resulted in the Ravens' only points of the game) and then got picked off in the fourth quarter because he underthrew Derrick Mason at the 2-yard line.
"We were never in sync the way we needed to [be] in order to get back into the game," said Flacco, who finished 20 of 38 for 189 yards and two interceptions.
Unlike their wild-card victory at New England, the Ravens were playing catch-up from the opening series.
Indianapolis assumed control toward the end of the first half, scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes.
The key play was the Colts' deciding not to try a 52-yard field goal and converting a fourth-and-4 with a short pass to running back Joseph Addai. Five plays later, Manning found a wide-open Austin Collie (who beat cornerback Domonique Foxworth) for a 10-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the second quarter.
The Colts showed no fear of the Ravens' offense when they called a timeout after the first play by the Ravens after the kickoff. Flacco was rushed into throwing an incompletion on second down, and running back Ray Rice dropped a third-down pass. The Ravens' hurry-up offense managed 4 yards and took 17 seconds off the clock.
Getting the ball back at their 36 with 1:26 remaining in the first half, the Colts marched down the field with help from the Ravens.
Foxworth interfered with Reggie Wayne to stop the Indianapolis wide receiver from running past him on a double move (the %13-yard penalty moved the Colts to the Ravens' 14 and was called by an officiating crew that had assessed the fewest pass-interference penalties in the NFL).