Hate to beat a dead horse, but I always try to find that proverbial needle-in-the- haystack of something positive to take out of what looks to be such a glaring negative on the surface. If you dig a little deeper, you can see the good, instead of just the bad and the ugly.
I'm talking about how our so-called #1 rated run defense gave up over 200 yards to the New York Giants in Sunday's 30-10 thrashing. It could have been even worse, had Brandon Jacobs not gotten himself injured and had Tom Coughlin not played it smart and kept him on the sidelines after he ran for 73 yards in the first quarter alone. Had he stayed in, he probably would have gone over 100 by halftime. In addition, had Coughlin been focusing on the record rather than just ending the game, he could have given the ball to Bradshaw a couple of more times instead of going into the victory set, and he certainly would have earned the last four yards he needed to go over the century mark as well. Giving up 100 yards to two rushers in the same game would have been more humiliation that I could have stood. Hats off to Coughlin for having the class not to rub it in, but something tells me we won't be talking about our so-called "streak" too much in the near future.
But where is the positive to take out of the #1 ranked run defense getting run over by the bus (Jacobs) and the sportscar (Bradshaw)? Here it is and you'll see that it makes sense. Jacobs finished with 73 yards on just 11 carries, for a 6.6 yards per carry average. His first carry was his longest, as it put them in scoring position on their first drive after his 36 yard run. Take away that carry, which was actually almost a tackle for loss, and he has 10 carries for 37 yards, a modest 3.7 yards per carry average. Bradshaw finished with 96 yards on 9 carries, with a 10.7 yard average per attempt. He had that one backbreaking long run of 77 yards down to our goal line that closed out the Giants scoring as we held them to a field goal. Take away that lone carry and he finishes with 8 carries for 19 yards, under 3 yards per attempt. Even their third back, Ward, had 22 of his 41 yards on 11 carries on one play. Without that big gainer, he also finishes with a meek 19 yards on 10 carries, good for under 2 yards/carry.
I'm trying to find the positive here, guys, and if the Ravens had made the inital tackles on those three plays and limited those guys to even around 10 yards each on those carries, then they would have still had over 100 yards as a team (probably around 120 yards), but none of them would have been anywhere near the century mark. What I'm trying to say here is that we just played the best team in the league. Now I know some of you will say the undefeated Titans should have that moniker, but we've played both and I'm sure there's no way you can say the Titans are a better, well rounded team on both sides of the ball than the Giants. Sunday, the Giants took a team that had won four in a row, regardless of who we beat, and made us look like the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, all rolled into one.
There are not going to be much in the way of an opponent the rest of the season who's offensive line and running backs come anywhere close to what the Giants showed us. The other three NFC East teams all boast good o-lines and running backs, but not to the extent of New York. Besides, none of them have a passing game that is as efficient as the Giants. I'm not saying they're better than the Cowboys through the air, but they are more efficient, as Eli doesn't make the mistakes that Romo does. The other three are definitely beatable and playing two of them at home is a huge advantage.
The Ravens can get back on track this weekend in hosting the Eagles, who should be embarassed to have had the first tie game since 2002, and that tie may come back to haunt them if they remain in the playoff hunt. However, since they are now 5-4-1 and coming here for a loss this weekend, leaving Baltimore with a 5-5-1 record will certainly not help their playoff chances.