I’ll admit, I love watching Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers games because of the huge rivalry that has developed. Living in Central PA, I am surrounded by fans of both teams. I can’t stand the Steelers but have no problem with the Ravens. However, my allegiance lies with the Miami Dolphins, and so this post will offer an outsider’s view of the Baltimore Ravens. My current hope is that the Ravens go on a run and pass the Cincinnati Bengals, because that is Miami’s best chance at a wild card position, having already lost to Baltimore.
Without further ado, here are some of my thoughts from last night’s game, which will kind of be a stream of consciousness from my opinions as the game went on.
When you can pass deep, it makes the running game much easier. The Ravens are one of the few teams that use the deep ball as a way to really spread the field. Most teams are now pass first, but the Ravens appear to be throw deep first as a general philosophy, and in many cases it works.
The Joe Flacco-to-Torrey Smith connection is quickly becoming one of the most reliable in the NFL. However, there has to be other players that Flacco can target, and with Jacoby Jones back, Ed Dickson getting better and Dennis Pitta possibly coming back soon, Flacco will have plenty of targets.
The defense is still excellent. Many people said in the off-season that the Ravens would be awful defensively, others said that Ozzie Newsome usually makes the right decisions on who to bring back. Well it appears those opinions of Newsome’s decision-making were correct. This is a very good defense.
It certainly has been a busy season for the trainers in Baltimore. Keeping people healthy has certainly been an issue. Thursday night injuries including Brandon Stokley and Elvis Dumervil, Of course, looking at it from an end-game perspective, the Steelers came out of this game really in bad shape after numerous injuries. Their next opponent…the Miami Dolphins!
Cris Collinsworth said if the Ravens get any semblance of a run game, the team could really be a force this year. YES! This is what I have been thinking and commenting on for weeks. The Ravens are a running game away from being a similar team as last year in my opinion, if not maybe even a little better defensively, believe it or not.
The Ravens’ Special Teams unit may be one of the best in the NFL, from Sam Koch’s reliability, Justin Tucker’s leg and accuracy and Jones’ return ability. *Note I wrote this after Tucker made it 13-0, before Jones’ controversial return, which was bush league by Tomlin. No, it didn’t affect the outcome, and some think it wasn’t intentional. As a Dolphins fan who was very upset when the Jets’ Special Teams Coach Sal Alosi tripped Nolan Carroll a few years ago, the NFL definitely needs to review that.
As I said earlier, weapons! Jacoby certainly adds an aspect to the offense that the young guys have not mastered yet.
As with all Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore games, this becomes a nail-biter that the Ravens hold on to win thanks to a few overturned touchdowns, a scary play at the goal-line and a stop on a two-point conversion.
My overall takeaway is that honestly, either of the teams that played at M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night could make a lot of noise in the playoffs. The Steelers may be in too deep a hole, and have too many injuries to get there. The Ravens, on the other hand, have made this kind of run before. The New England Patriots have injury issues, the Kansas City Chiefs may not be as good as we all thought and Peyton Manning throwing in the cold is still very questionable. The Ravens have to get to the playoffs first, but if they do I think they can make a lot of noise again this year in a weak AFC.