Obviously, there is no justice in this world.

Baltimore football fans had waited almost 23 years for an opportunity to revel in the postseason misfortune of the rudely transplanted Indianapolis Colts, but instead had to take the most bitter of playoff pills.


Peyton Manning didn't choke. The Colts didn't fold up like the cheap outfit that everybody in Charm City has thought they were since the Mayflower moving vans pulled out of town that snowy night in 1984.

Nope. It was the usually calm, cool Steve McNair who threw a disastrous interception at the 1-yard line in the first half, and it was the Ravens who looked road-rattled on the way to a 15-6 defeat in an AFC divisional playoff game at M&T; Bank Stadium that will only add another sad chapter to this city's historic love-hate relationship with the horseshoe.


Perennial postseason hero Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals to account for all of the Colts' points, leaving the Ravens to ponder the strange reality that they kept the high-powered Indy offense out of the end zone all day and still lost. Who would have imagined that?

Certainly no one in the sellout crowd of 71,162, as a week's worth of excitement and anticipation turned to trepidation by halftime, then evolved into desperation and disbelief as the final minutes ticked off the clock.

The road to Miami ended here. It will be the Colts who advance to the AFC championship game against the winner of today's game between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. The Ravens can only watch from afar and think of what might have been.

"It was embarrassing," said cornerback Chris McAlister, "for ourselves and for our city."