One of the hardest things to do in sports is to go on the road in the NFL and win. Even harder is to accomplish it at a divisional opponent's place. No matter how good or bad the teams involved are, it is always difficult. Throw in the horrible conditions and anything could have happened. Luckily the Ravens are pretty good and the Browns are pretty bad. We were able to jump out to a lead, and keep the pressure on. Except for a few slip-ups, we did a good job of not really letting the Browns back in the game. Which is as it should be if the Ravens want to make some noise in the post season: now is the time to put inferior teams to bed early and impose our will on them, like we did Sunday. Hopefully, this will lay to rest whatever demons the Ravens had with inferior teams on the road.
Ray Rice. Nothing more needs to be said. He was, is, and always will be, a beast. Again, he is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball; okay maybe a ground rule double threat, but you get my point. The O-Line was outstanding. I think Flacco got hit only once or twice. Yes he was flushed which lead to a fumble, but overall they did an outstanding job protecting Flacco and opening holes for Rice and Ricky. Gurode did a nice job filling in for Birk. In fact on a running play, it looked like he pancaked the first level defender and stoned the second level defender -need Filmstudy to verify.
McPhee. I think the game is slowing down for him. Not only did he get two sacks, but he was stout against the run.
Suggs is one of the best all around linebackers currently. He can rush the passer, he is stout against the run, he never loses contain and he can cover as he showed yesterday. In short he can do it all.
The defense in general did a great job. Except for a few flubs, they basically shut Cleveland down. What more can you ask for?
Cam. I thought he might at least try to be "cute" and go against "conventional wisdom" and try to pass the ball. Nope, he ran it. And ran it some more. And then, guess what? Ran it some more. Glad he stuck with it and didn't give in to temptation. I believe the wildcat and the end-around was just him trying some things out and giving future opponents one more thing to game plan against so I am not all that upset with him calling those plays. But he does need to retire the end-around. Terminate it, with extreme prejudice.
Special Teams overall did a nice job containing Cribbs and blocking for Webb.
And Ladarius. He is playing so well, Tebow is calling him up and asking for pointers. Right now, outside of Suggs, he may be the most "in the zone" player for the Ravens.
Nothing really bad happened. Jimmy giving up a TD. Again he is a rookie, there will be growing pains; this was one of them. He did make a nice play jumping the route for the pick.
Right now, McPhee is ahead of Kruger in terms of being an all-around every-down type of player. Kruger still has a way to go in terms of developing as exhibited by his pass interference penalty and, while this is not necessarily a quality I will judge defensive players on, he was pretty ugly in attempting to block on Jimmy's interception return. I believe Kruger will get there in terms of being an every-down type of defender for the Ravens, but it may not happen this year. But Kruger does have a relentless motor. I do not believe he registered an official sack yesterday, but he caused Cleveland enough fits which made life easier for Suggs, McPhee and Ngata. He may still need to progress some more, but boy can he motor...
The conditions. They obviously were a huge factor in the approach to the game for the Ravens and also affected the Ravens. Exhibit A was Cundiff. He is not a mudder. I can live with that. And in the past he has done such a great job, he has a good track record, but he is going to have games like this. Yes, this season has not been as good as last season for him -and there may be unknown reasons for that. I am by no means calling for his head. I did like his last FG. He hit that about as hard as humanly possible -no wind was going to knock it off course- that is why it looked so ugly because he hit it extremely hard, like a line drive, and didn't try to aim it. He just blasted it. If one of the Browns had gotten a finger on it, the fingernail, hand and arm, along with the ball, would have still ended up in the net...
The slippery conditions also played a factor in catching the ball. I counted at least two pick-6's we should have had and receivers from both teams were dropping the ball. A lot. Except for Pitta. He could catch a greased pig on meth with boxing gloves on...
Next up: Indy. They are winless. I fully expect them to remain that way come this time next week. We are getting them at home, and our defense has not lost a beat without Ray-Ray. I would be surprised if they crossed the fifty against us.
P-burgh keeps winning; New England keeps winning; Houston keeps winning. At least one of these teams has to falter at some point. I really hope the Ravens are able to add a little bit of separation from at least one of these teams.