“There will be a game – whether it is this week, next week – where the season is on the line and our offense is going to bail us out,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said after practice on November 29. “I really believe that. I am not too worried about what is going on with their side of the ball. I believe they are going to score a bunch of points and bail us out when we need them.”
The Ravens had just come off a victory on Monday night over the Houston Texans, but it was again the defense carrying the load. Even with how abysmal the offense has looked over the course of the season, Weddle still believed that when the team needed it most, the offense would show up.
In Week 13 against the Detroit Lions, the defense started out hot, again. However, near the end of the first half, Jimmy Smith tore his Achilles. After Smith left the game, the defense struggled. The Ravens needed the offense to bail out the defense.
In a crucial game, when in fact the Ravens needed it most, the offense stepped up.
“Everyone looked at me crazy when I said that – maybe rightfully so, maybe not,” Weddle said after the Ravens 44-20 win over the Lions on Sunday. “But I have belief in this team, our quarterback, what we’re doing offensively, the weapons we have. Confidence is a big deal. We were reeling there for a little bit in the second half. We didn’t match their intensity at all, defensively, with a second-half team that’s one of the best in the league coming out. So, kudos to our offense for not just standing up to the Lions, but extending our lead when we needed it. We needed them to respond because we weren’t playing very well in the second half, and all the credit goes to them. I said, and I still believe that, [there will be] games where they’re going to have to score; it’s going to be a shootout. They showed tonight they could do it.”
The momentum completely shifted in favor of the Lions when Jimmy Smith went down. The Lions moved the ball very well as the Ravens tried to adjust to the absence of Smith. Detroit cut the deficit to a one score game during the third quarter.
In this must win game, Baltimore had to flip the momentum. The Ravens offense, which played very well during the first half, but struggled during the Lions run of 13 unanswered points, was needed to respond.
There is certainly some comfort in the fact that the offense can put up points when needed, largely due to uncertainty that comes with Jimmy Smith’s injury. While Marlon Humphrey has been very good overall this season, he struggled against the Lions. Moreover, he struggled against the deep ball, the biggest knock on Humphrey throughout the draft process. Humphrey was not alone in struggling after Smith left, the whole defense seemed to collapse. The Lions had four starting offensive lineman out at the start of the second half, but the Ravens pass rush disappeared in the third quarter. These factors allowed the Lions go on a 13-0 run.
However, when the defense struggled, the Ravens offense picked up the slack.
Joe Flacco stepped up, and played his best game of the season. Flacco completed 23 of 36 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Collins pitched in with a great game as well, rushing for 75 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Both of Collins’ scores came in the second half, when the Ravens were desperate to take control.
Thinking the Ravens offense would play at the level it did against the Lions was unfathomable. The Ravens entered Week 13 as the second worst total offense in the NFL. All the Ravens did was drop 370 total yards on the Lions. All the while, the defense allowed 372.
We may have thought you were crazy Eric Weddle, but boy were you right.
Though let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean the Ravens offense can suddenly be relied upon. Sure, it showed up in a big spot, but that isn’t enough to forget about difficulties faced earlier in the year.
What the offense did show us, as Weddle said, is that it can produce this type of a game.
With the Steelers high octane offense on tap in Week 14, and no Jimmy Smith in the lineup, the offense could be called upon to bail out the Ravens again. Will they be able to meet the challenge? Eric Weddle surely thinks so.