The Baltimore Ravens have been in position to win every game this season and easily could be 4-0. The difference has been they haven’t been able to close out games and that is why they were winless entering last night’s game. That all has changed in one of the hardest circumstances to do so: at 0-3 on a short week with trip to Pittsburgh.
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The Ravens got their first win of the season because they finally played a full game of football. The fourth quarter has not been kind to the Ravens until last night’s 23-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. All three phases of the game did what they needed to do to get the win, which has not been the case in the first three games.
It was a huge victory for the Ravens who came back from a 20-7 deficit. The season looked to be on the brink with the score and then an injury to Steve Smith Sr. that knocked him out of the game. Justin Forsett came up with his best effort of the season, rushing for 150 yards. Kamar Aiken stepped up in Smith’s absence and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass that cut the Steelers lead to 20-14 in the third quarter.
Justin Tucker showed his value to the team last night with two clutch field goals, one to force overtime and another in OT for the win. His counterpart, Josh Scobee, missed two kicks in the fourth that allowed the Ravens to stick around. The botched kicks also had an effect on the Steelers offense.
The Steelers faced two key fourth down plays in overtime and Mike Tomlin decided to go for it rather than attempt another field goal. In one of the most head-scratching calls of the game, Michael Vick kept the ball on a fourth-and-2 and the Ravens defense made the stop. On the Steelers next possession, Vick overthrew Antonio Brown on fourth-and-1 and Tucker hit the game winner just a few plays later.
It was not one of Joe Flacco‘s better games as he was sacked five times, gave up an inexcusable fumble and almost had a interception returned for a score if it wasn’t for a touchdown-saving tackle by Ricky Wagner. In the end, he did what he needed to do to get the Ravens in position to win the game.
The Ravens were willing to do anything to get a win and added some trickery to their play calling last night. Michael Campanaro scored the opening touchdown of the game on a jet sweep in which he made a defender miss in the backfield. Baltimore also went for a fake field goal in the fourth quarter, but backup tight end Nick Boyle was tripped up in the backfield for a loss on the flip from punter Sam Koch.
It was a huge win for the Ravens as they now have 10 days off before hosting the Cleveland Browns. It gives the team a chance to take a few days off to rest some ailments and extra preparation time for another divisional opponent. A win against the Browns would get Baltimore to 2-3 and the season doesn’t seem as doomed as it looked early through the third quarter.
The season is not lost. If the Kansas City Chiefs can knock off the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens are still in the division race. The Steelers are now at 2-2 and the Browns aren’t expected to be playoff contenders. A win next week and Flacco and Co. are 2-1 in the division with the schedule easing up in the second half of the season.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Ravens stole a win in Pittsburgh when they needed it most. It took everyone on the roster – literally, the only player dressed that did not play was backup quarterback Matt Schaub – to play a complete game to earn the victory. That is what good football teams do and that is what we expect from the Ravens.
This wasn’t the start the Ravens expected after the first month of football, but they put themselves in this situation. Now they have to get out of it. Getting the first win was a start. Now they need to continue that momentum and carry it on for the rest of the season.
And the best part about today is that it is Friday and it always feels good the day after the Ravens beat Pittsburgh.
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