4th and 29.
4th and 29?
4th and 29!
I keep typing it because I still can’t believe it. That was the Ravens were against as they sat on their own 37-yard line with the game hanging in the balance. Joe Flacco flicked the ball out to Ray Rice on a screen and he did the rest of the work. It was greatest individual efforts I can remember seeing on a single play.
Great seasons have defining moments. That may have been one for the Ravens.
- This team continues to show tremendous resilience and heart in the face of adversity. The offense was it’s usual tepid self on the road gaining only 110 Total yards in the First Half. In the Second they exploded for 333. They were down ten points with eight minutes left and rallied to win the game. In the end that’s what really matters. I’ve discussed with fans over the past weeks about why the fan-base seems so down on a team that is positioned as a top threat to make it to the Super Bowl. People seem more concerned with how they win instead of the end result and I get that to a degree. I’ll spend a few points down the list with a few observations and criticisms of my own. Before I get there we have to acknowledge just how improbable this victory was considering how particularly poor the offense played most of the game. Some of my colleagues have said that they felt they Ravens didn’t deserve today’s victory. I totally disagree. You play four quarters and in this case an overtime to determine a winner. Baltimore made enough plays to get the job done and ultimately that’s what counts.
- I usually start on the offensive side of the ball but I’m going defense this time. And rightfully so. Since the bye week this defense has seemingly found itself, as well as their coordinator Dean Pees. I notice more movement at the line, more disguised pressure and corners pressing at the line. I see a defense that has a renewed confidence. The numbers are impressive – San Diego was limited to 280 total yards, were a miserable 3 for 15 on third down, and gave up six sacks to the Ravens. Since the Houston blowout, the Ravens have won four straight and have given up 14. points in that span. Maybe Coach Pees just needed to get comfortable with his personnel as they seem to be peaking at just the right time.
- Arthur Jones had his best game as a professional today. Three tackles and two sacks as he got some good inside pressure. The defensive line has taken it’s lumps this season and it’s nice to see Jones start to have some success.
- Did I mention the defense had six sacks today? Everyone contributed today – Jones (2), Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbee, Courtney Upshaw, and Terrell Suggs. I’ve been excited at the development from each of these players. Kruger is becoming a pass rusher on a consistent basis, Ellerbee is one of the team’s top tacklers, Upshaw seems to improve each week and Suggs is playing well enough even though we know he won’t be 100% until next season.
- Ray Rice. His amazing effort on 4th and 29 allowed this miraculous comeback to even be a possibility. Special kudos go to Anquan Boldin’s spine shattering block on Eric Weddle at the end of the play. That aside he put in a solid day’s work rushing for 97 yards on 22 carries and catching 8 passes for 67 yards. Rice has had a pretty good season but has only topped the century mark twice this season. Today was close enough as the Ravens need him down the stretch as the weather worsens in the AFC North.
- Torrey Smith. His catch on 3rd and ten that set up the game winning field goal was spectacular. He enjoyed a phenomenal day catching 7 for 144. There’s been a direct correlation between the Ravens road woes offensively and Smith’s productivity away from Baltimore. Of his 7 season touchdowns only 1 has been on the road. Even though he didn’t score the offense used him not just as a bomb threat as he was also effective on short crosses and outs. Smith is more than just a fly pattern guy and Cam Cameron should take notice.
- The Offensive line much like the rest of the offense struggled most of the game, particularly in pass protection. They allowed 5 sacks of their own as Flacco was under siege most of the game. They did clean up their act late but the tackles continued to have trouble with speed rushers. BTW, do you think the Ravens should have kept Antwan Barnes?
- The Offense was simply dreadful for the majority of the game. As fans struggle to determine just why this group flies at home but can’t seem to get rolling on the road all the possible answers had a hand in their struggles. Receivers (Boldin, Jones) dropped passes in their hands, other times Joe Flacco threw high or missed open targets, the Offensive line was porous, the play-calling lacked imagination and the use of the intermediate pass. It was all on display. Thank god next week is a home game.
- Cam Cameron. Cam’s always on the hot seat around here at least in our minds. Today his schemes continued to infuriate me. Every pass play early on was a post or a short toss where the receiver is expected to beat three defenders to the sticks for a first down. At least he stayed with the run game. But then all of a sudden the mid-range passing game returns and the Ravens march 80 yards on 9 plays for a touchdown. It doesn’t make sense. I also threw several objects at my television as it was clear that Cameron played it safe for the field goal instead of taking a shot at the end zone for the win at the end of the game. Still none of this matters nearly as much because he turned out to be right and the Ravens won.
- Dan Fouts. Dan, you were my favorite quarterback back in the day. A grizzly bear of a man who threw the ball almost every down. But your announcing performance today was one of the all-time worst ever in recorded football history. Bush. That’s bush league my friend. You appeared confused and disoriented on several plays but your worst offense was at times openly rooting for your old team. Here’s a quote: “The fans are booing now, but they’re going to be clapping real soon.” And then after a brief pause, he added, “I hope.” Well, listen closely Dan that booing you hear is from me to you. You stunk.