BALTIMORE, Md. — A road game against an opponent favored by more than a touchdown.
The starting quarterback out. The starting center out. A late safety. Overtime.
When the on-and-off mist finally settled at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, somehow, improbably, the Indianapolis Colts emerged as the victor.
And they did it largely on the leg of kicker Matt Gay, who connected on five field goals, setting an NFL record in the process. No kicker in NFL history had ever hit four field goals from 50+ yards in a single game.
After giving the Colts an early lead with a 31-yard chip shot to make it 10-7, Gay connected on kicks of 54, 53, 53 and 53 yards.
Here’s a look at each kick and the circumstances surrounding it.
3:26 in 2nd quarter, 31-yard field goal from the Baltimore 12
The defense forced a turnover by Lamar Jackson. Taven Bryan was credited with the sack and forced fumble, while Kwity Paye made the recovery.
The Colts didn’t get much out of the drive despite some prime field position. While they picked up a first down to move the ball to the Baltimore 9, a 2-yard run and a pair of incompletions set up 4th and goal at the 7.
The Colts played a fun game of “substitution chicken” with the Ravens until they took a delay of game penalty, moving the ball back from the 7 to the 12.
Gay trotted out to hit his shortest field goal of the day, giving the Colts a 10-7 lead.
8:33 in 3rd quarter, 54-yard field goal from the Baltimore 36
After the defense forced a punt, Isaiah McKenzie returned it 32 yards to the Colts’ 45. Indy didn’t get much of a drive out of the ensuing possession, moving just 19 yards in six plays.
Minshew tried to hit Josh Downs on a deep pass along the right sideline, but they couldn’t connect. Facing fourth-and-three from the Ravens’ 36, the Colts elected for the field goal try.
Gay was true from 54 yards, giving the Colts a 13-7 lead. It was his longest field goal of the game.
11:22 in 4th quarter, 53-yard field goal from the Baltimore 35
After the Ravens scored a touchdown late in the third quarter to make it 14-13, the Colts responded with an eight-play, 40-yard drive that started on their own 25 after a touchback.
Zack Moss ran for 24 yards on the first play. Gardner Minshew II hit Michael Pittman Jr. for a first down on 3rd and 6 to keep the drive alive, but the Colts eventually stalled at the Ravens’ 35.
Gay hit from 53 yards to make it 16-14 as the Colts regained the lead. It was his third field goal of the day and second from 50+ yards. He wasn’t close to finished.
:57 in 4th quarter, 53-yard field goal from the Baltimore 34
The Ravens responded with a field goal of their own to make it 17-16. The teams then exchanged punts, with the Ravens pinning the Colts at their own 2.
Then, disaster struck. After a false start put the ball at the 1, Minshew stepped out of bounds for a safety. Just like that, the Ravens led 19-16. Things were looking dire, with neither the clock nor the scoreboard in the team’s favor.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and the Colts caught a few breaks that preserved some clock. What happened next wasn’t much of a drive, just 28 yards on six plays, but Indy picked up a couple first downs. A false start from Braden Smith turned 3rd and 1 into 3rd and 6.
The Colts tried for the big one on third down, a backbreaking play that could’ve put them in position for a game-winning touchdown. But Minshew couldn’t connect with Alec Pierce on a deep ball along the left sideline.
Gay once again booted a field goal, hitting from 53 yards to tie the game at 19 all.
1:09 in overtime, 53-yard field goal from the Baltimore 35
After Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s 61-yard field goal attempt fell short just before the end of regulation, the game went into overtime.
The Colts punted, then the Ravens punted. The Colts turned it over on downs near midfield, then the Ravens turned it over on downs near midfield (after a controversial missed penalty).
The team rode Zack Moss on the ensuing drive. He started things off with a 13-yard run. Two more carries—one for 2 yards and another for 3 yards, set up a 3rd and 5. Moss got stuffed on third down, setting up Gay’s final field goal attempt.
Gay hit the game-winner from 53 yards, final score 22-19. It was his fourth field goal of 50+ yards in the game, an NFL record.
What Gay said after the game
Gay couldn’t recount the details of his game-winning score, telling reporters he was in his “blackout mode”—reacting as opposed to thinking. Despite some rain before the game and a fine mist during it at times, Gay said the field was in good condition.
“[I was] really just kind of in that blackout mode where I wasn’t thinking too much, so when it came down to that last one, to be able to trust the snap, the hold, the protection—I mean, can’t do it without those guys. It was a good snap, a good hold and I was able to make it,” he said.
“I think I started the game off with a short one. I was able to see one go through the uprights, and then after that, [I was just in] that mode, getting called out frequently to go out and hit kicks. So, just in that ‘blackout mode.’ Jog on, kick it and jog off. And that’s just kind of the mindset I like to have, I don’t like to think too much about what’s going on.”
Gay said thinking too much during kicks can clutter up the process and get him off track. But he was certainly cognizant of the stakes.
“I think the kicker position’s a little bit, when it comes down to that moment, everyone’s looking at you. And so, being able to come through [for his teammates], and for [head coach] Shane [Steichen], and for this organization, that’s something special that I’ll hold onto forever because those moments don’t come along very often.”
The Colts improved to 2-1 after the improbable victory. Going into Week 4, they’re alone atop the AFC South and will host the Los Angeles Rams next week at Lucas Oil Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff.