This is exactly what the doctor ordered- a complete game by the offense and defense. This is the offense we expected- unpredictable and high scoring. Nice bonus with the defense shutting down the Giants -mostly.
It may have taken a week, but it appears the changes in offensive direction are reaping rewards. Two examples: 1) in the second quarter, it is second and medium and the Giants guess pass and blitz the Raven's right side; Rice rips off a 19 yard run as the Giants had no clue the Ravens had called a running play. 2) bunch formations and working the middle of the field- saw a lot of formations which at least set Ravens receivers up to have a fighting chance to get separation; and I saw a lot of passes to Boldin and even Torrey in the middle of the field. And the offense gained First Downs and moved the ball -imagine that?
We won the division! Two years in a row! Pittsburgh? Who? You didn't make the playoffs- you are dead to me.
Flacco. 300 yards, 70% completion, 2 TD's (plus another one rushing) and a 114 rating. He does that five more times in a row he will be $110M richer. Flacco also did a much better job of seeing the field and progressing through his reads. He dumped off when he had to and no turnovers. Very good game from Flacco.
Rice. Used like he should have been. Kept the defense guessing. Even on the called dump-offs to Rice, the Giants were protecting against something else. Had over 100 yards rushing and almost five yards per carry and another 50 on six receptions. This is how I expect Rice to be used.
Pierce. Would have been nice to give the rook a touchdown at the end, but he had a great game nevertheless.
Leach. When he is able to knock folks down like bowling pins, the running game clicks.
Torrey. Great game for a guy who I thought had his bell ring pretty good. The knock on Torrey was allegedly bad hands. Bad hands? He is starting to look like Pitta out there...
Boldin. Worked the middle and made some great catches.
TE's. Both of them had good games. Pitta had a few more opportunities than Dickson; and they had success all over the field -keep the defense guessing. Don't know how many two TE sets we ran, but they both were able to get open.
The O-Line. They executed! Amazing- when the O-Line has a good game, the Ravens have a good game.
Ngata. I think he is healed. Hope Eli's wife isn't pregnant as Ngata just had breakfast, lunch and dinner...
Ihedigbo. Real head scratcher when we acquired him in the offseason -not because he was perceived as being bad, but just- who was this guy? He seems to fit the Ravens defensive scheme nicely.
Chykie Brown. Gave up the touchdown at the end in garbage time, but otherwise had a really nice game. Him and Corey Graham have come on very nicely here at the end of the season when the defense has been hurting from injuries. They have both really stepped up.
Ed Reed. He was out of position, especially on the 40-yard pass play in the first quarter. And I think he had two balls he should have picked but didn't. And now, he probably will get suspended for the helmet contact late in the game.
The refs. Yes, we won. But what game were the refs calling? Were these out of work NHL refs? Looked liked replacement refs had kidnapped the real refs and somehow snuck into the game. And isn't doesn't help when one of the Fox consultants, which used to be involved in referring basically throws the crew under the bus.
Penalties. Ravens lead the league in personal fouls. This is going to kill us and it has to stop now. This is a broken record, and it is inexplicably that the coaches cannot find proper ways of motivating the players to not commit them.
Dean Pees deserves Coordinator of the Year if there is such a thing. His defense has been decimated and yet he has been able to somehow get this unit playing very well late in the season when it counts the most. Suggs seems to be getting a lot more pressure now and Ngata appears to be 100%. Guys dropping left and right and he just plugs in the next guy.
It appears Caldwell is having a difference. One area seems to be the protection scheme. The O-Line just did not magically become dominant overnight. However, I did see a much more aware and shrewd Flacco operating the pocket. Offenses can call all kinds of different protection schemes and they are not going to account for every stunt and every blitzer on every play. Sometimes you have to pick your poison and the Giants have one of the best front seven in the league. It appeared that the protection called this game worked very amicable with Flacco. He seemed to be able to see where the pressure was coming from and had a great feel for when and where to move about in the pocket. The best example was the 3rd and 19 conversion in the third quarter when Flacco stepped up in the pocket and hit Pitta for a big gain. Joe avoided the rush and put himself in the position to make a big play when the heat was on.
Even though it only resulted in a field goal, that same drive where Flacco stepped up and completed a big gainer to Pitta on third down, the Ravens chewed up like six, seven minutes off of the clock. That was the dagger through the hearts of the Giants and they just wanted to get back onto the train after that. That is what we expect from this offense- get up on teams and put them away.
Next game will be kind of strange as I am not sure Cincy or Baltimore can really change either of their playoff situations all that much. I am expecting a last week of the preseason type of game. Let us hope we can get a lot healthier over the next two weeks. If we lose and Indy loses, then I think we get Cincy back at our place the following week; otherwise we will host Indy and Cincy will travel to someplace not named Baltimore.
Go Ravens- AFC North Champs -Again!!!