Sorry for being a bit late on the dime coverage this week.
I was out and about enjoying the sights and sounds of a Ravens victory at M & T Bank stadium. As many fans know football games can easily become all-day affairs and I didn’t get home until late.
As always there is plenty to discuss. So let’s get into it.
- The Ravens set a franchise record scoring 55 points yesterday. It was a bit shocking but maybe not all that surprising considering the Raiders gave up 42 to the Tampa Bay last week and that the Ravens offense simply plays better at home. It’s just bizarre when you look at the numbers. At home they are now averaging 36.8 points, while on the road the same offense musters only averaging 17.5 points. The difference maker is the play of Joe Flacco. In his five home games this season — all Ravens wins — Flacco has completed 65.3 percent of his attempts for 1,612 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. If he can play with that type of consistency in away games Baltimore could be very tough come playoff time.
- Media, fans, and even your neighbor’s dog have been waiting for the Ravens to dominate a game from beginning to end, at least since the season opener against the Bengals. Well, the team delivered and controlled all three phases of the game for four quarters. Haloti Ngata got an extra week’s rest and Joe Flacco sat out the Fourth Quarter. The big win allows the team to get ready to travel to Pittsburgh for a tough three game stretch as rested as they could be.
- Back to the offense again. We’ve said it almost too much, when the offense spreads the ball around they become very dangerous. Sure the focus is on Ray Rice first but there is a lot of talent on this side of the ball. Oakland appeared determined not to let Rice “Doug Martin” them and held Rice in check to 35 rushing yards. It hardly mattered as Flacco led the Ravens on eight scoring drives as the offense picked up 22 first downs and 45 points on their first 11 possessions. Eight different players caught passes yesterday. Matchups will often dictate who gets the ball more on a certain day but they’d be smart moving forward to keep as many players involved as they can.
- We heard a lot of talk about Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson developing into a potent tag team in the middle of the field. We’ve seen few results until yesterday. Combined they caught 7 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. They helped control the middle of the field and the Ravens need that production to compliment their usual attack over the top and on sideline patterns.
- The Offensive line had one of its best games not giving up a sack against a decent front four. Could Jah Reid be the answer at guard? He’ll get his chance.
- We’ve seen some bad football teams match up against the Ravens this season and the Raiders are definitely in that category. Turnovers (3) and Penalties (10 for 105 yds.) were only a part of their story. The were just awful. Broken tackles, tripping over lineman and allowing the Ravens offense to do almost whatever it wanted. The Silver and Black are still searching for that winning formula and a return to the glory days. It’s a shame for their fans, which have some of the scariest costumes this side of a horror movie that their team is so terrible at this point.
- Paul Kruger had a fine afternoon getting credited with two sacks, two hurries and a tipped pass that he later intercepted. Kruger is one of the players that the defense is counting on to help re-establish their fearsome identity. Good to see him be so active.
- Speaking of the defense they showed some improvement this week against Oakland. They still were prone to big plays like Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 55-yd score and Denarius Moore’s 30-yd TD. They did finally get to the quarterback three times which would seem like a pretty good accomplishment. However, they did it on 50 dropbacks which is below the league average. I did like that the line seemed more active had as many batted balls as they’ve had all season.
- Ed Reed. A lot has been made of his whiff on an attempted tackle that directly lead to a touchdown. What was even more ineresting were his post-game comments about leaving the game. “”The offense was playing well and I was having a pretty bad game as an individual and I really didn’t want to go back out there as a competitor playing the way I was playing today. But we’ve got guys that can step up, step in, and needed to get those reps and see what others guys can do.” Enjoy Reed while you can because this will be his last season in Baltimore. I have no idea if he will still want to play football next season and if he does some team will probably take a chance on him. But as the Ravens defense continues to find it’s way it’s clear that two of their future Hall of Famers – Ray Lewis and Reed have lost a step. They both also carry hefty cap tags as well. Lewis’ future is another matter as he has one year left on his deal but Reed is up for renewal and I can’t see Baltimore taking him back when they will need that money to address issues with the pass rush, defensive line, and linebacker.
- I’ve heard some that felt that the Ravens fake Field goal that led to a Sam Koch touchdown was uneccessary. The score was already 41-17 with 9:20 left in the third quarter, and the Oakland Raiders had no chance of catching up. These guys are professional players and if they don’t like then stop the opponent. Play better. If you’re talking college, high school, or Pop Warner then you’ve got a point.