- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: An improbable season is now over. Under new leadership and with huge roster turnover, the Colts found their way to 11 wins and a playoff berth. The rookie season of quarterback Andrew Luck and a talented first-year class has come to a close. The Ravens advance to a divisional-round game in Denver.
What I didn’t like: The red zone performance by the offense was simply insufficient. The Colts could not find an avenue into the end zone, as the Ravens forced Indianapolis to settle for four field goal attempts. Adam Vinatieri hit the first three. The pass coverage couldn’t contain Anquan Boldin in the second half, and his touchdown catch was spectacular. He simply muscled the ball in even though nickel corner Darius Butler had an arm in position to break it up. They allowed too many big plays overall. Indy’s pass protection allowed far too much pressure and far too many hits on Luck, who also suffered as a result of some drops. Luck couldn’t find his late-game magic in this one, as Cary Williams grabbed a defended pass for a fourth-quarter pick -- Luck’s first interception in his past 150 throws, per CBS.
What I liked: Luck never wavered in the face of constant pressure and delivered a lot of big throws given the circumstances. Rookie running back Vick Ballard continued to make gains in vision and production. Though he failed to corral a fourth-down pass just before the two-minute warning. (Terrell Suggs of the Ravens paused at the Colts' sideline to give Chuck Pagano a big hug right after that.)
Next man up: Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who did such good work as the team’s interim coach for the bulk of the year, was sick and taken to a hospital before the game. Quarterback coach Clyde Christensen called the game in Arians' absence. The Colts offered assurances he was going to be fine.
What’s next: After some time wondering what if, the Colts need to spend the offseason building the roster. Indianapolis needs significant help on the offensive line, on the defensive line and in the secondary. Arians is expected to interview for the open head-coaching jobs in Chicago and Philadelphia. Replacing him would be a tall order for Pagano.