On to New Orleans !!!!!!
This is a moment to savor. A moment to cherish my friends and fellow Ravens fans. These times are special. These Ravens have spoiled us with five straight playoff appearances and it’s easy to let success go to your head. But let’s not forget that if you aint first you’re last.
Baltimore has earned another chance at a championship.
Enjoy the weeks ahead as the hype and hyperbole will no doubt make you sick before it’s all over. Still, nothing is assured. Who knows when the purple and black will be here again so let’s enjoy the ride as we send #52 to retirement.
Here are some thoughts about tonight’s victory:
- Joe Flacco. I read the ridiculous headline on Sports Illustrated’s cover this week about Flacco re-writing his legacy. After five seasons? Seriously? The man has only been to the AFC title game 3 out of his 5 seasons in the league. Do you want more? Ok, how about outplaying Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (both Hall of Famers) in consecutive weeks on the road? That’ll do I guess. The switch to Shotgun paid huge dividends as Flacco deftly engineered all three scoring drives in the second half. He’s playing with tremendous confidence right now and he’ll earn a hefty paycheck at the end of the season.
- The Rushing yards weren’t spectacular but they were good enough to get the job done. Ray Rice was keyed on during the first half and ended with a below average statline – 19 carries, 48 yards, 2.5 Average. Still he made a few plays tonight that were simply all him. Shifty, elusive, and extraordinary. He found paydirt after he reversed field, gave a quick short-arm (Simms’ words) and hit the endzone. Kudos to Bernard Pierce who had to be hurting all week as he was limited in practice but finished with 9 runs for 52 yards.
- Anquan Boldin. He didn’t really trash talk this week did he? When asked about this weekend’s game he just said, “We’ll win”. When asked to elaborate he just repeated the same phrase. Boldin nabbed two touchdowns and was a tough assignment in the second half for New England.
- Jim Caldwell. I applauded him sticking to the run until he stuck with it about a series too long. Then the Shotgun was brought out and it was all over for the Patriots. I thought how this game might have gone with Cam Cameron at the controls and the second half was the difference. Cam would have been too stubborn to change. I say that because I’ve seen it over the years. Instead Caldwell mixed it up, went full Shotgun and Flacco went to work. I can only hope that the Ravens are smart enough to give this guy the job full time.
- Offensive Line. Since Bryant McKinnie has been re-inserted into the lineup they’ve been very tough. Everyone played well and deserves major props for keeping Joe clean all night long.
- Ravens defense. Yes, they gave up too many yards at times but how can you be upset with a second half shutout of the most prolific scoring team in the NFL? Dean Pees and his group should be commended for a fine effort in preparing for the No-Huddle attack doing a fantastic job in the Red-Zone (only 1 for 4).
- It was a strong effort against a quality quarterback in Brady as the tackling was pretty good. There weren’t many big plays as they kept the YAC to a minimum.
- Bernard Pollard’s hit on Stevan Ridley was a game-changer. Not only did he knock Ridley out of the game but the fumble was promptly turned into another touchdown. I was waiting for a flag but the I remembered that runners don’t get the same protection as receivers.
- CBS usually does a poor job compared to ESPN, FOX and even the NFL network on broadcasts but usually Jim “Golf Whisper” Nantz and Phil Simms do a solid job to cover for any shortcomings. Not so tonight. It was a forgone conclusion that the Pats would cruise into New Orleans. They told us so. So anytime you saw anything to contrary they just shut up. Sheer silence on Tom Brady extending his leg into Ed Reed as he slid. Deafening quiet as Dennis Pitta was rocked in the Red Zone. No fouls, no worry, right?
- Shannon Sharpe. The entire CBS crew picked the Pats to win and that’s no problem considering the stats and everything else that doesn’t matter. But give credit to Sharpe who called out Pats Head Coach Bill Belicheck for his bush league behavior on national television. Belicheck refused to give a post-game interview and instead sent out a player to speak in his stead. Sharpe rightfully ripped him and I’m glad he did. The Patriots are perfect storyline was wearing thin.