I am shocked at all the negative comments being left on these blogs and heard on sports-talk radio after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-24 at M&T Bank Stadium yesterday afternoon. I guess that last year's success and our great run with a top notch defense has made everyone think we should win every game by a shutout.
Even 501 yards of record setting offense isn't enough to quiet the naysayers. Our defense gave up a total of 188 yards to the Chiefs, 50 of them coming on one play after Kansas City's drive was extended by another phantom roughing the passer penalty.
(More "Grief" after the "Jump.")
The Chiefs had one long drive, aided I as said before by a penalty and long pass, but still had a tough time all day long. They were 2-10 on third downs and RB Larry Johnson, the last player to run for over 100 yards on us (2006) was held to 20 yards on eleven carries! We didn't have the picks that this defense is known for and that is a surprise to everyone but then again, most of Brodie Croyle's throws were short and had more YAC that air under them, averaging under six yards per attempt.
The defense confused and pressured Croyle all day and he seemed to fail to utilize his biggest target in Dwayne Bowe until later in the game. Why the Chiefs stubbornly continued to try to run the ball inside confused me as well as why they didn't try to let their wideouts outmuscle our smaller DB's all day.
Offensively, there are those who are lamenting the fact that QB Joe Flacco missed on 17 passes, rather than the fact he hit on 26 of them to a bevy of his receivers for his first career 300 yard passing game as the Ravens rolled up a franchise record 501 yards of total offense on the day. Both Flacco and RB Ray Rice had great days, as did Willis McGahee (2-TD's). It was great to see Todd Heap back to his old self and even Mark Clayton seemed to not be feeling any effects from his hamstring injury with a lead taking long TD recdeption late in the 4th quarter.
Got to give kudos to rookie RT Michael Oher for run and pass blocking like a stud, and while there were times that Flacco had to take off and run, he was protected well all game long and only sacked once. His run total of 18 yards wasn't from pressure as much as it was from his receivers being covered, but it's nice to know he can move around pretty well for a big kid. The one interception was a mistake but with 300+ yards and three passing TD's, I'll take the tradeoff any day.
Don't despair about the kicking game - just yet. Having a punt blocked is rare and should not happen again, much less having one blocked and recovered for a TD! Placekicker Steven Hauschka missed a FG that he should have made and looked tentative on his other kicks. Even his made FG just cleared the crossbar when we saw him nailing 50+ yard kicks in Training Camp and his leg is "longer" than that. Any talk of bringing back Matt Stover is ridiculous because Stover was absolutely horrible the first few games of 2008 and finished rated 27th in the NFL last year in accuracy.
Overall, the win showed that this team is not going to be considered one-dimensional anymore and the offense can win games for us if we need them to. That has been the knock on this team and with this opening day performance, regardless of whom it came against, it should send a clear message to any team that thinks it's going to attack our defense and shut down our offense.