Ha! Can we finally put this argument to bed? Yeah he lost a fumble and nearly a second one earlier, but despite getting sacked four times, hit numerous others, he played lights out. No other way to put it. The third and long conversion to Heap when he stepped up in the pocket and then I think side-stepped another rusher to make the connection to Heap to keep the late second quarter TD drive alive -sublime. The TD strike to Boldin was a thing of artistic beauty. If you watch, Flacco gets the ball over not one, but two linebackers and puts it where only his receiver can make a play on it –perfect pass and perfect catch for a perfect touchdown.
I hope *this* game quiets the critics once and for all. So now his lifetime playoff stats are 82 for 154, 925 yards, 3 TD, 6 picks and one FL for a 62 rating. Still not pretty from a stats perspective, but you cannot argue with 4-2 in the playoffs, *on the road*. Two of those wins were at 1) Tennessee, who at the time had the best record in football; and 2) of course last year at NE. Not too shabby for someone who still can’t close the book on only his third NFL season.
Thought the Ravens would pull a few more tricks out of the bag being the playoffs –I guess they felt like they did not need to against KC and are saving them for the next playoff game(s). We really didn’t flash anything new other than using the middle of the field –but that is pretty bread-and-butter for OTHER NFL offenses.
One thing I did notice, which speaks to the lack of tricks. There appears to be a lot going on pre-snap on punts. Watch Ruki and Koch. Not sure if they are just going through their progression and reads for protection schemes or if something is afoot. I wonder if they have the green light in certain situations (distance to first down, field position, game clock, etc) to call a “Musket Arm” audible if they think it is there, based on what the receiving team is doing. I could be reading more into it than what is really going on, but at least twice, I thought, “Oh my gosh, they are doing a fake punt!” Maybe they are playing mind games with future opponents, who knows…
The Good (Besides Flacco)
Kelly Gregg- Father Time strikes back. Kelly Gregg looked like a kid running around out there, disrupting the offense and making plays left and right. Showed the old man still has a little something-something left in the tank. I guess a smallish zone blocking O-line is not match for a powerful fire hydrant that uses strength and leverage. The coverage of Bowe –wow, is all I can say. Not only zero catches, but zero thrown to. How insane is that??? Hats off to Carr, Wilson and whoever else was responsible for covering Bowe. Todd Heap. I think people sometimes forget that at one point in his career, he was thought of as a top three TE in the NFL. The “Stormin’ Mormon”, when healthy can be huge, like Cody huge… And let’s give Cody some props. That strip-fumble-smoother will forever be remembered, if nothing else for the “ripple effect”… The defense overall –they have given up, what, 14 points in two games? Sounds like “peaking” to me. And extra special props to Matison. Wow, not sure what adjustments you made, but bottle that and sell it as Jamal Charles was a changed man after whatever it was you did.
Even though we accepted the penalty, that punt by Musket Arm in which the ball just died like a shot gunned quail at the what? Six inch line? I gotta believe Koch was almost like to Harbaugh, “No, no, no! Decline the penalty! DECLINE THE PENALTY! I just kicked the world’s first perfect punt and you are giving it away-!” That punt was Joe Satriani cool. It is getting almost scary at how Koch can basically put the ball down wherever he wants. Two guys that deserved to be locked up long term: Purple Crush and Musket Arm –take note Ozzie.
And finally, Cam. Yes, there is something called the middle of the field and you exploited it beautifully-! With Rice, Heap *and* the WR’s-! Imagine that… And, you took a couple shots deep –two that I recall and maybe even a third. Didn’t connect, but that is not all bad. Good to keep the defense on its toes. Ya never know when one of those bombs will connect… Also, you stuck with the run. Even though it was not necessarily statistically effective, it ate clock. It rested our veteran defense. It tired KC’s young defense. Keep it up!
I am all for the Stallworth end-around play –the guy has speed to burn. But at least disguise it better. The guys on the space station saw that play coming (and to Stallworth’s credit he still gained a yard, almost two on that play). And as much as not using the middle of the field is a pet peeve around here, why the heck is Stallworth not sent on a go route and a shot taken deep? Third and long, say from about your own forty, odds against converting, if the long bomb is intercepted, it ends up being like a punt, which you would probably have to do anyway. I do not understand why we do not at least try a long pass to Stallworth at least once a game. I cannot believe we signed him just for end-arounds…
Well, been the consistent Achilles heel of this team all season- the O-Line. Yes, the O-line “dominated” much of the second half, but that was mostly because KC’s defense was sucking wind big time. Four sacks and a lost fumble are not acceptable. Four sacks and a lost fumble on Saturday probably loses us the game. Do not know if the O-line can be “fixed” before Saturday, so then we have to be smart with our gameplan and the plays we call. If I was not so worried about our defense getting fatigued, I would almost consider running the old Buffalo “K-Gun” no-huddle shotgun offense. But I would not risk that with our “veteran” defense. If the O-line is not markedly improved in the offseason, might be something to think about (our offensive players are actually kind of similar to Buffalo’s back in the day now that I think about, except that Oher is nowhere near “House” Ballard).
Enough of the foreplay. Everything else this season has been elementary school gym class warm-ups compared to Saturday. Grudge match, all the marbles, between the two baddest, nastiest teams. Win or go home. No excuses, no crying. Just raw, unadulterated *pain*. All points in the universe have been leading up to this. I think even the Mayan calendar spoke of this apocalyptic event… Troy. Ed. Big Ben. Joe Cool. Ray-Ray & Haloti. Harrision and Woodley. The story will write itself. And while the NFL and networks are all giddy with the NY-Boston match-up, every fan knows which will be the “real” football game this weekend. Better lock the doors, hide the women and children, as it will get ugly. And, There Will Be Blood.