Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
By now, everyone has been celebrating the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 victory over the New England Patriots and specifically the great performance by QB Joe Flacco.
However, Joe Cool was far from the only star n the offensive side of the ball Sunday evening. Spreading the ball around to both his running backs and also his receivers, Flacco was masterful, but his supporting cast played a huge role in his success.
Veteran WR Anquan Boldin was on the receiving end of five Flacco passes, including two TD receptions over an obviously over-matched secondary. Initially covered by CB Aqib Talib, Boldin and the Ravens took advantage of his absence once he left with a hamstring injury not to return the rest of the game.
Torrey Smith only caught four passes all day but draw a lot of attention which opened up the middle for Boldin as well as TE Dennis Pitta, whose five catches for 55 yards included Flacco's first TD pass, one play after Dennis got leveled by a crushing hit that easily could have resulted in a personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
The rushing attack may not have been overly impressive but Ray Rice (19 carries, 48 yards, 1-TD) and Bernard Pierce (9 carries, 52 yards, 5.8 yards/carry average). Rice also added three receptions for 22 yards, but none anywhere as important as his 15 yard scamper on a screen pass that seemed destined to be stopped behind the line of scrimmage for negative yardage, only to see him escape and get a first down to extend one of the Ravens TD drive.
Perhaps the best supporting role on the offense once again has to go to the Ravens revamped offensive line, which although it allowed the first two sacks of the post-season, gave Flacco time to throw all game long and blocked well at the point of attack in the run game.
The media and fans may focus on the great game by Flacco but football is the ultimate team sport and without the aforementioned performances by the rest of the offense, Joe's success could have been a lot less in comparison.