Defense and Special Teams lead Harbaugh to First Win

Harbaugh vs NE

John Harbaugh’s first game as an NFL head coach ended up a 16-15 win over the defending AFC champion New England Patriots.

Several offensive weapons for both teams didn’t suit up, including Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Willis McGahee, Mark Clayton and Todd Heap, which lead to a mostly defensive dominated game.

The game started well and promising for Kyle Boller in his quest to remain the starting QB as he completed 5 of 6 passes for 56 yards in their first possession while leading his team to a 42 yard field goal by the ever reliable, ever lasting Matt Stover. Boller ended his night going 11 for 15 for 102 yards and no touchdowns and even though the stats say he outplayed both Troy Smith and Joe Flacco, Boller had two costly turnovers, an interception by Shawn Crable and a fumble cause by an Adalius Thomas sack.

Troy Smith did lead the team to a field goal and made a couple of great throws but ended up completing a dismal 5 of 12 attempts for 74 yards and an important zero turnovers. Joe Flacco looked really not so spectacular. 0 for 3…ouch, negative 6 total yards…double ouch, and a fumble that lead to the Patriots only touchdown of the night…want the night to be over already ouch! The rushing game couldn’t do much better as they rushed for a combined 41 yards on 18 attempts lead by the rookie from Rutgers Ray Rice who rushed for 12 yards on 6 attempts. Derrick Mason lead the receivers with 3 catches for 54 yards.

The QB’s of the Patriots played just as poorly as the Ravens as they could only muster up a total of 144 yards passing and each QB threw an interception. Two of those were picked off by newly acquired Fabion Washington which the Ravens acquired from Oakland for a 4th round pick. LaMont Jordan, who only 13 days ago was released by Oakland, lead the team in rushing with 76 yards on 19 carries and scored the teams only TD, a 1 yard run behind the left guard. Raymond Ventrone, a third year player from Villanova, had 2 catches for 35 yards.

Defense was the name of this game and both sides offered up the best they had to offer as the Ravens forced 5 turnovers and 5 sacks and the Patriots forced 3 turnovers and had 3 sacks. The difference in this game was the stellar perfomance of young Yamon Figurs, the Ravens return specialist who is competing for the 3rd wide receiver spot, as he had a punt return of 52 yards that lead to the Ravens only TD, a one yard rush by fullback Le’Ron McClain.

Now if you didn’t see the highlight on this one it went something like this…Figurs thinks about going right, decides left is the way to go, stops then goes left again, slows down, sees an opening and heads up field, points at someone who needs blocking, breaks an arm tackle and is forced to step out of bounds at the two yard line. He’ll be pushing for a Pro Bowl spot with returns like that. Figurs also had a 48 yard kickoff return that lead to a 44 yard Matt Stover FG and 1 reception for 12 yards.

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