The Baltimore Ravens picked up their fourth win of the season with a last second kick-six against the Cleveland Browns. A crazy way to end a game, this has to go down as one of the most interesting endings of the 2015 NFL season.
It probably isn't enough to get them into the playoff picture, but it definitely showed us that this team hasn't quit yet. With that, we'll take a look at what we can descern out of that last minute win.
This team hasn't given up
How many of you would have begun to fake injuries or given partial effort when your team hit 2-7? Just about all of you would have and you know it. Credit head coach John Harbaugh, the rest of the coaches and the veteran players for getting everyone to stay on track. It has been a pain of a season, both figuratively and literally, but this group of players has been able to stay in every game regardless of the circumstances and keep motivated after every major player has gone on injured reserve. Without their franchise quarterback and so many other crucial players, this is really one of the first games where I can see that every player on the field put every ounce of themselves into every play and were physical in the right ways. It paid off in a win and if they can keep it up, it will result in much more later.
Matt Schaub is limited
This is a two-part answer really. The first part is that offensive coordinator Marc Trestman clearly kept things basic for Schaub for a majority of the game. Simple reads and easy throws were there for him to make and build up his confidence. Being the 34-year old's first game since he was wearing black and silver for the Oakland Raiders, it was a good decision. Schaub did make a few deep throws and took some shots, but he also saw some of the same problems that plagued him in Houston
That leads us to our second part. Matt Schaub is entering what I like to call the Trent Dilfer era of his career. He's not a gun slinger any longer and he can't take chances. For the most part, he played safe and threw the ball away if it wasn't there, but he threw two interceptions, with one of them going the distance for a touchdown. Houston Texans fans were quick to point out why they got rid of him, even though he would drive the Ravens down the field for an impressive score right after his pick-six. It was clear that Trestman needs to keep things simple for Schaub and let the run game do it's job first and foremost instead of trying to let Schaub win it himself.
Ravens special teams is killer
The Ravens have been able to slide in just about any returner and they have been doing well. Kaelin Clay in just his second game as a pro and on his 4th punt return proceeded to take it to the house. 82-yards and Clay gave the Ravens the first points of the game. Before Clay, it was Jeremy Ross who did very well with his return abilities but couldn't stop fumbling, something he did in his previous stints. Because of those issues, Ross was cut and Clay was brought in to replace him. It seems like if Clay has some hiccups, he'll be replaced with someone that gets just as good of a return on investment as the others before him.
We can't have an article this week without discussion about the blocked field goal and return. We've seen the Ravens special teams do wonderful things all season long, but this was the thing that really got us to understand that this might be the best special teams unit in football.
The defense is improving
Everyone is still on board the Pees hate train, but given the stuff he's had to work with this season, he is doing a pretty good job late in the Ravens schedule. The real tests will come against better teams, but in the last 3 weeks, Pees has been able to dial up pressure and get after quarterbacks. Those pressures have led to mistakes from their opponents and have gotten the Ravens more into the field position battle than they had been all season prior. If guys could catch the ball, the Ravens would have double digit interceptions by now and would be in the running for one of the more explosive units in the game.
Regardless of what you think about Pees, you have to admit that this rag-tag bunch of depth players are finally starting to gel around each other and that the defensive coordinator has figured out how to best use the talent he has on the field. It might not be enough to save his job in some fans' minds, but any improvement is much needed and a good thing to see so far into a bad season.