Wow, “finally” put together about as complete a game as possible. “Finally” cut one of the NFL’s most dynamic players loose in Ray Rice. “Finally” the defense came up big against a quality opponent. Yeah, there were some bumps along the way: feel behind early, jump out in front, let them back in, and then finished them off. With the 2010 edition of the Raven’s that is about as best as we can expect.
Ray Rice. Finally, he showed what we all know he can do. Dickson showed up. Let us hope he has earned some “trust” from Flacco. Looks like with a little more experience, he is the heir apparent to Heap. Probably still another full year away, but the potential is very much there. The O-line- hey, where ya guys been all season –hardly knew ya… It was almost as if the Saints delivered a wake-up call to the O-line after they marched down the field and scored their first touchdown. Because given the O-line’s effort the first part of the game, I was thinking, “Uh oh, here we go again…” But they bounced back nicely and keep Flacco relatively clean the rest of the game. Flacco. Yeah, he ran out of bounds four yards behind the line scrimmage when all he had to do was flick the ball to prevent the sack and he only had one other bad decision that I can recall; for the most part his throws were money. Two things really stuck out for me positively for him. One, the way he was able to extend the “Hail Mary” play at the end of the first half and delivered a near perfect bomb to the end zone, right into the gaggle of Ravens receivers. Two bad our wide receivers had the vert of slugs on that play as they got seriously out jumped by the defenders – I believe there is a Spike Lee movie in there somewhere… And two, the pretty, pretty pass to Rice for the TD. In stride, on his hands, away from the defender, with plenty of room in the end zone, perfect timing, if Flacco can connect on one of those per game, sky is the limit for Joe Cool. The defense. They came up big when we needed it the most at the end of the game. Suggs and Ngata both had stellar performances. And Redding. For two weeks now Cory has shown me why we got him. He has two great games duking it out in the trenches and had some pretty good performances leading up. Maybe it was a case of learning the defense, stunts, getting comfortable –whatever, took him like twelve weeks but it is paying off now. Ball security. Thought for sure Flacco was going to cough it up on the first sack but he held on. And everyone else did also. Very important come playoffs.
Finally, let us give credit where credit is due: Cam. He drew up a solid game plan and called a good game –stuck with the run like he should have given the conditions and opponent. I only had two issues with Cam this week- 1) third and inches, you do not call a deep pitch; a quick pitch or other quick hitter, boom, you got the first down. Where was McClain on that play? But to Cam’s credit, he did have a nice call on the subsequent fourth and a few more inches to convert; and 2) can you throw at least one slant to a WR? Just one, that is all we are asking. Cam did a nice job devising plays to get Rice the ball in space. Cam gets to keep his job for now :)
Second half timeouts/challenges. Sitting in a bar, with no sound, it was pretty obvious that Moore had a TD –in real time. We had zero timeouts left if the Saints had scored and we needed Flacco to mount a furious comeback drive. Zero, none, nada, zippy. This broken record refrain is getting ridiculous.
The stupid penalties. That is it. Luckily, in the end they really did not hurt us that much, except for Reed’s. And like I said up above, sitting in a bar with no sound and only seeing it one time, hard to tell if it was just stupidity on Reed’s part, him going for the strip/sack and getting unlucky, bad call by referee or some combination of the three. But this is the kind of thing that can rear its ugly head at the most inopportune time during the playoffs and ruin your day. So they have to get this fixed once and for all.
A great, solid win by the Ravens -finally! Hopefully they will build on this, and go take care of business in C-town.