Whew, I woke up this morning like a little kid on a Christmas Day, hoping that last night wasn't a dream. Now I know how I would have felt if we had beaten the Steelers last week! Talk about an early Hanukah or Christmas present, eh? I wasn't able to go to bed for another hour or so after the game, as beat as I was after that nailbiter. I kept switching the channels looking for more stories on the game, from ESPN to ESPNews to the NFL Network. The more the merrier after that contest. Tell me, was that one of the most enjoyable games you've ever witnessed - EVER!?
I was emotionally drained after the game. I hugged the dogs, went outside and screamed and even woke the wife. I wanted to stay up all night drinking and blogging (like raven!). However, at my advanced age, I needed to get my five hours of sleep. Unfortunately that was it for me as the puppy woke me up at 5:30am heaving on the bed so I jumped up to put him on the floor before he hurled, then cleaned it up and took the dogs out. I went back to bed until 7:30am when the pup kept licking MY face because he was used to getting up by then and eating and he was hungry. Where was my wife? Sleeping for once and it meant I needed to be the good husband and take him down and feed him, which I did. No problem because I wanted to get on Beatdown and blog some more and read your posts, which were great.
Anyway, I totally agree that the post game interviews focused on how the Cowboys lost rather than give us our due credit for the win. You know, that's fine with me as all week it was all about Dallas and their stupid stadium. The sight of seeing those old timers just sitting there quietly towards the end of the game along with owner Jerry Jones in his skybox was worth it ten times over. Seeing Tony Romo sitting on the bench on the sidelines with that glazed "what just happened?" look on his face was priceless. Now I know what he looks like after a go-round with Jessica! That was nasty and I knew I shouldn't write that, but I did and I'm sticking with it!
Props go all around and yes, despite the late Dallas scores that kept it close, the defense still gets their share. However, this was the offense's night, especially in the last few minutes. Let's start at the top, though, by giving it up for rookie head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Harbaugh gets credit just because he''s the coach and hired Cam. Cam must be having a lot more fun this season compared to last year in Miami, huh!? While it seemed we played it conservative, Cam really opened it up in the second half, especially with the fake FG, the appearance of the Wildcat and Flacco's naked bootleg. He lulled the Cowboys to sleep then woke them up with a filthy gameplan that moved the ball all night on their 7th ranked defense. Still have to give it up for Rex Ryan, as he bewildered Tony Romo in the first half and most of the second as well. Don't worry about the two late scores. This was a desperate Dallas team with an explosive offense and I have no problem with those scores, especially now that we won.
On the playing field, the props are all over the place and my fingers may give out before I am able to mention everyone who contributed to this great victory. Flacco looked calm and poised, certainly more so than his counterpart, Romo. He threw some bullets, including one that I thought was going to be pick-sixed but he still completed it. He grew up a ton last night and showed the nation why he deserves consideration for Rookie-of-the-Year honors (Matt who?). RB Le'Ron McClain bruised the Cowboys all night before ending their night with that 83 yard lumbering TD jaunt. Willis McGahee redeemed himself mightily with a couple of good plays prior to his backbreaking 77 yard TD romp. Derrick Mason left it all out on the field and is every bit the warrior that everyone was saying. Did you see him run his pattern with one arm dangling before he caught the TD pass from Flacco? Amazing guy, so underrated, maybe the best possession receiver in the game as every team knows it's coming his way but he still gets open and makes the critical receptions. The youngest offensive line in the league gave up five sacks to the NFL's leading sack unit but protected Flacco when he needed it and opened gaping holes for the team to garner over 250 yards rushing, including those two long runs which totalled around 160 of them.
OMG! I almost forgot to mention that beast of a punter and now runner, Sam Koch. He pinned the Cowboys back all night with his booming punts and ran great on that fake FG, knocking over the Dallas defensive back along the way. Placekicker Matt Stover was money and that must have felt great for him, growing up in the area and now putting them through the uprights.
Defensviely, the front seven blitzed and put a ton of pressure on Romo, and while they only had two sacks, they harassed and hurried him all evening,forcing him to throw early and off target, except to Ed Reed. Reed, who got two more picks in the first half last night, deserves mention as NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is a game changer and game breaker. Ray directed the offense like an artist, seeming to know every Dallas formation and play before the ball was snapped. Ngata was his usual beastly self and Suggs chased Romo all over the field. However, Bart Scott looked slow and lost and was faked out of his shoes and missed tackles throughout the night. The secondary played very well, despite the loss of Fabian Washington for a time in the second half. Dallas didn't complete a pass to their wideouts for most of the first half and their dangerous YAC stats never materialized. Safety Jim Leonhard made several tackles and returned punts real well and has played a huge role in his role as a replacement for Dawan Landry (who?) since the second game of the season. Speaking of the return game, Yamon Figurs might have played himself off the team last night. All I keep saying is that despite his blazing speed, he seems to run right at the defending players and can't hold onto the ball. If we had lost that fumble after the Cowboys made it a two point game, I would have leapt through the TV and choked him! I'll take Leonhard's smart moves over Figurs speed any day. No need to keep mentioning Ed Reed, as he is obviously on another level than the other players on the field and shows it week after week, making us all forget that he has played most of the season with a serious neck injury.
All in all, it was an incredibly enjoyable game with a great ending for Ravens fans for once. This remarkable season will continue and I can't wait to see how loud and explosive M&T Bank Stadium will be next Sunday when we beat down the Jaguars and secure a Wild Card playoff spot and keep playing football in January, when EVERYONE thought we'd be sitting on the sofa watching other teams play.
So for now, enjoy and let me know your thoughts, as we will continue to spread the positive energy through the week leading up to next Sunday and beyond.