The Baltimore Ravens put together what almost was a perfect game yesterday in Houston, as the totally dominated all aspects of the game in their 41-13 victory. Their fourth win in a row gives them a 6-3 record, and one more victory than they had in the entire 2007 season. This win was their third win of the year on the road and during their four game winning streak, they are averaging 36 points per game.
Once considered a team based totally on its smothering defense, the Ravens now have seemed to find the recipe for offensive success. While their defense is the #2 overall ranked defense in the entire NFL (#1 against the run), their offense has begun to put up enough points to make the defense's job easier. Once the Ravens take the lead thanks to their renovated offense, the defense licks their chops and feasts on their opponents mistakes. This recipe has led to the points coming in bunches as the Ravens have put the games away with a mistake-free ball control offense and a suffocating defense.
Yesterday's victory was a perfect example of how the Ravens have transformed their offense under new head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and especially rookie QB Joe Flacco. While not babying him with the playbook because of his rookie status, the gameplan focuses on the running game which opens up the passing game. At the same time, Flacco has earned every accolade he has had heaped upon him as of late, not turning the ball over even once during this four game span. The offensive line has provided him excellent protection and opened gaping holes for our three-headed rushing attack. The running backs have stepped up and all three have had great success, without any indication of internal issues over their split starring roles. Even the wideouts have stepped up, with Derrick Mason not being the only one having success and catching key passes. There was even a re-emergence of tight end Todd Heap yesterday, who caught five passes for 58 yards and two (not a typo) TD's!
While Flacco has not put up Manning, Brady or even Brees-like numbers, the lack of interceptions has allowed the offense to hold onto the ball and drive down the field, owning the clock and time of possession. This usually translates into victories and has held true for the Ravens six victories. The rookie from the University of Delaware has looked calm and poised in the pocket, well advanced of his first year status. While all facets of the team have stepped up, it is by far his surprising play has made the biggest difference in the team's success.
Can the Ravens continue their winnng streak as they head up to the Meadowlands to visit the defending Super Bowl Champion and 8-1 New York Giants? That remains to be seen, as we have all week to gloat over our win and plan to go to war in New Jersey next Sunday. For now, let's revel in our season that now has us tied for first place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers, thanks to their home loss to the Indianapolis Colts yesterday. At the same time, while we are tied for the division lead, they hold the tie breaker over us by virtue of their victory over us earlier this season. Of course, we will have the chance to set things right when the Steelers come to M&T Bank Stadium on December 14th. Until then, we can continue to control our own fate and will root for two teams- the Ravens and whomever is playing the Steelers.