The cold, miserable conditions seemed to be the perfect tonic for the Ravens offense.
Ray Rice ran for a career high 166 yards and a touchdown to help power Baltimore to a 48-3 thrashing of the Detroit Lions.
The die hard fans who turned out for this one saw a day for the record books as the Ravens offense set new marks for most offensive yards in a game (548), most rushing touchdowns (5), most extra points in a game (6) and they tied the record for the highest point total in a game (48).
Certainly not what you would have expected considering the game time temperature was 36 degrees and rain was steady all morning until about the fourth quarter.
Fast starts haven’t been easy to come by this season but the Ravens were able to use some big runs by Rice who broke free for a 59-yd run late in the second quarter and an impressive catch and run from Derrick Mason who took two solid shots and willed his way into the end zone 62 yards later. At halftime the Ravens led 20-3.
The third quarter saw another heavy dose of the rushing attack as Baltimore hit pay dirt three more times with touchdowns by Le’Ron McClain and two from Willis McGahee. Even Troy Smith was able to get into the act in the final quarter rushing one in from 14 yards out off a play fake. In all Baltimore amassed 308 yards on the ground which wasn’t bad considering the team made a few last minute changes on the offensive line.
Jared Gaither was a late scratch which caused Michael Oher to be moved to Left Tackle and Oneil Cousins to be activated and get his first start at Right Tackle. None of it seemed to bother the group who really dominated up front in the running game clearing some big holes for the backs.
The defense did a very solid job as well intercepting back-up Daunte Culpepper twice and holding top receiver Calvin Johnson to 4 catches for 37 yards.
The Ravens (7-6) closed to within one game back of the Broncos (8-5) for the No. 5 seed and moved into a virtual tie with the Jaguars (7-6) for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC as both Denver and Jacksonville lost today. Next week the Ravens will host the Chicago Bears in the final home game of the season.
Points to Ponder
Has Billy Cundiff played himself into the long term plans for the Ravens?
Maybe. Out of nine Field Goal attempts he’s made seven. One was the horrible shank from about 30 yards but the other was the last minute bomb in the waning seconds of the Pittsburgh game. He’s been very solid and has shown a good leg on kickoffs too. Just something to think about but maybe the more exciting story will be if Baltimore tries to get Matt Stover back for 2010.
Does this win really mean anything since it was against the Lions?
Of course it does. You pound teams who aren’t up to snuff and that is something you can always expect from these Ravens. They beat the teams they should. That bodes well into the last three games with of course the Steelers game being the big one in Pittsburgh. It was important for the Ravens to do a few things today, one get Flacco going, two get off quick and stay on top of an inferior opponent and thirdly win the game to stay on the playoff hunt. They did all three and it helped as both the Broncos and Jags stumbled too. Each game is crucial as they try to keep post-season hopes alive. Next week they run into a team that is better than Detroit but has had its share of struggles. They should follow a similar game plan next week.
Will the Ravens continue to run the ball this way the rest of the season?
One can only hope. But it was good to see the offensive line aggressive in their duties as they rebounded from their worst performance of the season in Green Bay. I know all of us here at Ravens Gab have been calling for a return to the rushing attack of last season and all three backs hit the end zone today. These are good signs, we can only hope they continue. As much as Cam Cameron has tried to make the conversion to pass first team this year (they have thrown this year as much as they ran last year) maybe this dominance, although against the Lions will remind him of how good they can be on the ground.
What was the deal of the officials?
I had a feeling that the league office wasn’t sending the “A” squad to a Lions-Ravens game in December but this crew really had issues. My favorite had to be checking on the challenge that Antawan Barnes had sacked Culpepper. The official made the call then had to jog over to the peep show booth again to re-check the spot. That and several clock issues coupled with a P.A. that sounded like my Verizon service as it went in and out so you had to fill in what you didn’t hear just gave the impression that each time they announced a call circus music should have been playing the background.
Who was the offensive player of the game?
It’s been official for weeks but Ray Rice is a special player. The lone home run hitter on this offense is just fascinating to watch in action. Mason’s catch and run reaffirmed his tough guy status as he took a very hard sandwich hit and then ran the rest of the way holding his arm. Joe Flacco had a very good recovery game and read the field much better though he was still a bit quick on his checkdowns.
Who was the defensive player of the game?
Tom Zbikowski grabbed his second interception in as many starts and had two pass deflections to go with 4 tackles. Ray Lewis led the team with 9 tackles and the young backers had their moments as Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain and Danell Ellerbee each made positive contributions. The Ravens still only had one sack and it’s still an area that needs a serious upgrade when they head into the off-season. Terrell Suggs was back and looked good in run support.