The Bengals & The AFC North
I can see that the AFC North will be the most feared division in the league. Let's face it, what we saw yesterday was a sign of how good the Bengals are becoming, how good they will be, and just how good our game must be when we face them. Andy Dalton (The Young Gun) has the goods and will be a force to deal with as time goes on. Marvin Lewis and that organization are doing everything possible to make them not just contenders but the best around. The Steelers will always be deadly in the way they play anybody. And realistically, you can't Cleveland out of the equation. They are building something special there too. Don't just look at their wins and losses but look at where they rank statistically. They are not to be overlooked at all. But this just proves how happy it makes me that the Ravens are finally putting it all together as a total package. We must and will continue to grow in every aspect of the game.
I said it once and I will say it over and over again. Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback and will continue to impress as he continues to fine tune his game. Flacco threw 2 TD's for 270 yds with a 105.5 QB rating. Torry Smith is something special and the deep threat we have needed for so long. Torrey Smith had 8 catches for 165 yards & 1 TD. Let's face it, every game has not been a work of art for them. There has been dropped passes, overthrown balls and missed opportunities. But when they are good... they are just that damn good! Look at them like you would look at anybody just starting out a new relationship. They are getting to know all about each other, all the things they need to know to make it work. As time goes on, it's growing into something beautiful. Every team was put on notice of the possibilities of what these two could do in the St. Louis game. Then the world knew when he caught that pass to win the game in Pittsburgh. I love what I'm seeing and just think, it's only gonna get better.
Marshall Yanda & Ben Grubbs
I am sooooo happy to see Ben Grubbs back. The offensive line missed him and no one more than Joe Flacco missed him more. You instantly saw the difference when he came back and I hope he is back for the rest of this run. Since coming back Joe has had more time to throw and everyone is not getting to him every time he drops back. Marshall Yanda is a BEAST! I mean that in every way that's good and with all the respect. Everybody has their favorite on the O-line but Yanda is mine. Did you really watch him work yesterday? First of all, you're not gonna just push him around (physically you can't) and when you watch him play, you know exactly why we had to re-sign him long term. Yanda and Grubbs are starting to finally get the accolades they deserve.
My main concerns about the defense was them not applying enough pressure to quarterbacks these past couple of games. But even without Ray Lewis in yesterday's game they were still scary. Ed Reed is still Ed Reed, he had a INT and was all over the field yesterday. Andy Dalton said prior to the game about keeping his eye on Ed Reed but clearly he blinked. Jimmy Smith had his 1st interception yesterday but that was short lived when he lost the ball that was luckily recovered by us. Smith I'm sure has heard the speech about protecting the ball. Jimmy Smith was burned a couple of times on some plays but he's still learning. Webb, Pollard, & Ayanbadejo looked pretty good yesterday. I just hope we can stay healthy as the season goes on. Guaranteed to give Alex Smith trouble on Thanksgiving Night.
Mr. Reliable, Ol' Faithful, Mr. Dependable, whatever you want to call him, Matt Stover was inducted into the Ravens Ring Of Honor during halftime yesterday. During his speech he said, "When you see my name, please see yours." He is truly a class act. He retired in 2009 after playing 297 games and scoring over 2000 points in his career. He has played on three teams in his professional career. He has played for Cleveland, Baltimore, & Indianapolis. Three cities that will forever be linked together in NFL history. It's almost as if it was written in the stars. Matt, you are missed and I tip my hat to you and say Thank you!
Looking at the total picture the Ravens are in a good place but we can not afford to lose any more games. Right now we are looking over our shoulder and see the Steelers, Texans, Patriots, and Bengals. We have to be mindful that with every game that's played the dynamics could change and right now we control our own destiny. We want home field advantage and that means working hard to ensure it happens. I am reminded of the "Any Given Sunday" rule and that means every team, every game is a threat. Ravens fans we can do it. We are climbing the ladder and with each victory brings us closer to the top which is the Super Bowl. I will leave you with the words of Vince Lombardi. "We will be relentless in our pursuit for perfection. We won't ever be perfect - but in the process we will achieve greatness."