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Offensive Explosion Powers Ravens Past Chiefs 38-24

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For years Baltimore has been a team defined by their defense and their ability to run the football.

The times may be changing.

Joe Flacco threw early and often tossing three touchdowns for 307 yards and helping lead the Ravens to a franchise high 501 yards of total offense.

He also showed that he refused to be rattled, as he shook off a day of erratic throws among his completions and hit Mark Clayton with a beautifully thrown ball with 2:06 left to give the Ravens a 31-24 lead that they never relinquished.

Baltimore was equally effective on the ground getting all three of their backs involved in the offense. New starter, Ray Rice rushed 19 times for 108 yards for a 5.7 yd. average, Willis McGahee caught a touchdown and ran for one to clinch the victory late. while Le’Ron McClain resumed his goal line vulture role from a season ago and punched a touchdown in from a yard out.

However all of this unexpected offensive firepower was needed up until the final minutes to seal the win. Kansas City stayed close taking advantage of Baltimore mistakes.

A blocked Sam Koch punt was recovered in the end zone by John McGraw to cut the lead to 10-7 in the second quarter and a huge 70 yard interception return by Derrick Johnson off a Flacco pass which led to a Brodie Croyle to Dwayne Bowe 2 yard connection to give the Chiefs the lead 14-10 in the third.

Even though Kansas City was dominated in every statistical aspect of the game they continued to hang tough with Croyle answering McClain’s touchdown plunge with a touchdown drive of his own hitting Sean Ryan over the middle to tie the game at 24 with 5:21 left in the fourth.

Points to Ponder

Are the Ravens a Pass-First team now? It seemed that way. On the first drive it was clear that Cam Cameron was making that statement as the first six play calls were passes. The final numbers suggested the balance that they want from this team with 41 rushes and 43 pass attempts but it certainly the offense seemed more pass heavy with 24 attempts in the first half.

Do they still need another receiver? Perhaps today’s performance will quiet the topic of the summer at least until next week. Flacco spread the ball around with 7 different players nabbing receptions. Mark Clayton (5 – 77 – 1 TD) and Todd Heap (5 – 74 – 1 TD) led the group as both of the oft injured players looked fresh and made several solid grabs.

Why were the Chiefs able to stay within striking distance so late in the game? The Ravens followed up a strong first quarter with an equally awful second quarter marred by penalties (8 total for 65 yards) and halted any momentum that they had built. Give KC credit as they took advantage of miscues to stay close into half time and Brodie Croyle hung tough and delivered an impressive drive even with his rushing attack non-existent (29 rushing yards – 1.7 average). The Ravens of 08′ knocked teams out when they jumped up early on the scoreboard. In the NFL you can’t let any team stick around especially one that they moved the ball so easily on. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a the trend for 2009.

Why were so many players slipping on the turf? It was blamed at one point on the paint by the commentators. But I’ve never seen so many players on both sides stumble about on that surface before.

Who was the Offensive player of the game? Take your pick. Todd Heap from 2005 decided to play today. Mark Clayton looked ready to step up. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee both ran hard. But the honor goes to Joe Flacco. It’s clear that if this team is to get back to the post-season and beyond it will due to his improvement. His improvised touchdown flip to McGahee reminded me of a certain quarterback north of here.

Who was the Defensive player of the game? The time of possession was so lopsided (40:00 – 20:00) that the statistics were spread around with 4 players (Lewis, Gregg, Reed, Ayanbadejo) with 4 tackles each. Underappreciated linebacker Jarret Johnson with a career high two sacks gets the nod.


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