INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Vanderjagt didn't think he had been kicking properly all season.
On Sunday, he got it right. Five times.
|Mike Vanderjagt enjoys the fans' reactions after he wins the game with his fifth field goal.(AP)|
"I haven't been real confident all year, but on Wednesday I kicked some field goals and kind of realized what I was doing wrong," Vanderjagt said. "To learn on Wednedsday is a good time, because today I had a lot more confidence."
There were no signs of Vanderjagt's concern entering Sunday.
He still carried the title of the NFL's most accurate kicker despite going 5-of-7 in the Colts' first four games.
While the Ravens defense forced him to nearly match those numbers in four quarters, Indianapolis never doubted Vanderjagt would come through.
"He tells me all the time that he's the most accurate kicker in the history of the league, so just get him close and he'll put it through," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
The Colts (4-1) closed in many times against the Ravens' stout defense, but struggled to put the ball in the end zone.
They instead relied on Vanderjagt's foot, and he produced with field goals of 39, 50, 43 and 25 yards before hitting the winner, and on a defense that proved nearly as formidable as Baltimore's.
The Colts stuffed Lewis, limiting him to a 3.6-yard average and forcing seven fumbles, recovering two. They also pressured Baltimore quarterback Chris Redman into a critical interception with 22 seconds left in the first half that led to Vanderjagt's 50-yarder that made it 13-6.
"He'll look at the films and see that he's going to have to produce in some key areas if you're going to win tight games like this," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I hated to give them that last possession."
Baltimore, playing without All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis for the first time in 64 regular-season games, still played well most of the day. The Ravens limited Edgerrin James to a career-low 43 yards on 17 carries and, after allowing Peyton Manning to throw an 11-yard TD pass to Marcus Pollard on the game's opening drive, forced the Colts to settle for field goals.
But it was a huge Baltimore defensive mistake that allowed Manning to complete the comeback.
With a little more than a minute left and Indianapolis facing fourth-and-10, Baltimore chased Manning from the pocket. He lobbed an errant pass downfield for Qadry Ismail, the Ravens' all-time leading receiver. When Ismail jumped for the ball, cornerback Gary Baxter plowed into him, drawing a 22-yard pass interference that put Indianapolis at the Baltimore 42.
Ravens coach Brian Billick protested to no avail.
Dungy thought it was an easy call because Baxter had his back turned to Manning. Baxter disagreed.
"I was just in a man-to-man coverage and I was running down the field. I had my eyes on my man the whole time," Baxter said. "I heard the team holler 'ball' and all I did was jump. It was a surprising call."
So Manning got another chance and took advantage. He needed just five more plays to put Vanderjagt in position for the winner, giving the Colts their third straight victory.
Baltimore tied the score late in the third quarter when Jamal Lewis, held under control most of the day, walked in from the 5 on fourth-and-1.
Vanderjagt countered with two field goals to make it 19-13 early in the fourth quarter before the Ravens got another 5-yard TD run from Lewis. That made it 20-19 with 9:04 remaining.
The Ravens had a chance to run out the clock, but failed, and Manning and Vanderjagt took advantage.
"Everybody told me how smooth my form is, so I would just go up there and try to place it in there. I needed to finish, to be more aggressive," Vanderjagt said. "I just told myself to kill the ball."
- Stover's 51-yarder matched the Ravens' team record, which he set twice in October 2000. Stover previously hit 51-yarders against Washington and Pittsburgh.
- Colts punter Hunter Smith hit a career-long 69-yard punt in the third quarter. There was no return.
- James had rushed for 100 yards in 10 straight home games, but has now been held under 100 yards in two straight at the RCA Dome.
- Manning passed Bert Jones to become the Colts No. 2 quarterback in yards passing Sunday. Manning now has 17,698 and trails only John Unitas' 39,768.
The Associated Press News Service
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