...now what do I do? It's been so long since the last Ravens victory that I'm totally unprepared on what to blog about today. I had my final season ending rant on what went wrong again all ready and then the Ravens go out and give us a glimpse of the possible future with a season ending victory over the hated Steelers.
I realize the Steelers team we faced was minus Big Ben, Hines Ward, Fast Willie Parker (now Hobbled Willie Parker), as well as others, but it was the first team defense that the Smith boys (Troy & Musa) moved the ball against all game long. Many Steeler fans will wave this loss off as an "exhibition" game, while others will be nervous that Pittsburgh has lost three of their last four games and now has to host the Jacksonville Jaguars who already beat the Steelers in front of their home fans earlier this season.
However, after losing a franchise record and current NFL leading nine straight games, every Ravens fan will look at it what it is - a win! Forget about the Steelers playing many of their second stringers. Baltimore has been doing that for most of this entire miserable season and was without their starting QB, RB, TE, MLB, DE, and both CB's. In fact, they were down to their third string QB, fourth string TE, and who knows what string cornerbacks were in there! This was a game to cheer about and savor before looking forward to next year with a ton of questions to answer.
Troy Smith had a lot of zip on his passes, as much as Boller had and much more than McNair showed all season. Musa Smith ran like a rookie, not like the plodder he seemed to be most of this season. And what about little-used Cory Ross!? He ran like a young Dave Meggett, zipping through the holes under would-be tacklers for big chunks of yardage, averaging over six yards a carry. The cornerbacks even did respectable over the course of the game, just not every play. However, once again the pass rush was non-existent and the offensive line kept Troy Smith running for his life, albeit pretty darn successfully for most of the evening!
So where do they go from here? The players all get a long vacation, although the Front Office never seems to rest in the off season. Hopefully, the Ravens walking wounded will get healthy and return to full time roles next season. This team will still need to purge some of its older players whose salaries are hurting our cap space. There may be some retirements, which should fee up both roster and cap space. Free Agency and the 2008 Draft awaits. Where do they go in those directions? It will all depend on GM Ozzie Newsome and his brain trust. So many questions remain for this team to answer before they hit training camp next July. We'll look at all of them in the next posting.
For now, I'll savor the victory, sit back and enjoy the playoffs from the warmth and comfort of my family room sofa.
Happy New Year!