Dare I say Flacc-tacular.
Yes, I dare. I will admit that I did not feel confident that Flacco could lead the offense Ninety yards (it was actually 92) to paydirt to complete a series sweep over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game just felt like so many others over the years. A game littered with missed opportunities and wasted potential. Another game where the Steelers come up big in the clutch and the Ravens wilt under the bright lights of Prime Time.
Not this time. Joe was cool when it mattered and made big plays to win a big game. Does this game help him finally turn the corner? We shall see. But that’s for next week. Right now I think we should just enjoy the victory.
I can’t sleep so here are my thoughts about the game:
- Joe Flacco haters where are you now? I’d like a word with you. It’s funny how football works sometimes. Flacco was impressive Week One against these same Steelers and many thought that his time had finally arrived. Instead over the last seven games we’ve seen nothing but inconsistency from Flacco under center. At times he has looked brilliant while others putrid. Throwing in last week’s victory against the Cardinals he’s now played six quarters of very good football. The real test will be next week as the Ravens travel to Seattle. It has all the makings of a classic trap game against an inferior team on the West Coast. Can he build on this momentum? Let’s hope so. But for now relish in the joy as the Roethlisberger beast has been slain. Which really makes little sense since Flacco scored against the Pittsburgh defense. Anyway that talking point has been swept away – finally.
- Torrey Smith. Five catches for 71-yds and a huge touchdown. It wasn’t all pretty though. He had four drops by my count and five plays earlier could have caught another possible game winning TD. His holding penalty was a bit iffy that negated Ray Rice’s huge opening play touchdown sprint but it wiped out a huge burst of momentum. Even after all of that he came through at the end when the team needed it most. Imagine what he might be able to do after a few NFL seasons under his belt?
- Anquan Boldin. Once again when Flacco needed First downs through the air he targeted the big receiver and he usually delivered. (7 for 88-yds) His drop around the Steelers 11-yd line on the last drive could have been costly. It wasn’t of course after Smith’s heroics but it’s good to see the roles on the offense continuing to be defined. Boldin should be the first target Flacco looks for. It wasn’t just all Boldin and Smith though – 8 different Ravens caught passes tonight.
- I need to get the final numbers of drops by the Ravens receivers because it was almost in the double digits. If they would have come up short I would have pointed a finger squarely in that group’s direction. Smith had a bunch but others had their moments as well. Flacco should have thrown for 400 yards and if you go back and add up those drops as catches that isn’t an exaggeration.
- Ben Grubbs. Welcome back. Oh, how we have missed you. You have to give the line credit for their protection during the final drive but overall they did a decent job against the Steelers defense. James Harrison put in an amazing performance with all three Steelers sacks attributed to him.
- The Ravens defense did not appear to be as aggressive as before and could only get to Roethlisberger for one sack. Give credit to the Pittsburgh protections as it allowed Ben to go his patented “sandlot style” that gives Ravens fans nightmares. You could tell that Baltimore was truly concerned with the speed of Wallace and Brown as they tried to “Umbrella” out to keep them from making big plays. Roethlisberger threw for 330 yards and Pittsburgh averaged 3.5 yards a carry. Not great numbers for a defense, especially giving up two touchdowns in the final quarter but they deserve to have the offense carry the load this time.
- Terrell Suggs. Usually he has at least one sack against Ben but instead he got a few knockdowns and a big interception when the Ravens needed it. This is why Suggs is one of the premier defensive players today. That play was all him, all instinct and awareness.
- Billy Cundiff finally made a 50+ yard Field Goal after three previous misses this season. He also missed from 40 earlier in the game. Another possible missed opportunity that was washed away by Flacco’s heroics.
- Stat of the night: Third Down Efficiency – 14 for 21. The Ravens have struggled most of the season on third down, but not tonight. Drives were extended and Sam Koch only punted Twice. That’s a good night for the offense.
- The demons of season’s past have been exercised tonight. Now with a tie-break in their Flacco’s side for his whole career. The good thing is that Pittsburgh will travel to Cincy next week to see what these Bengals are all about. Either way somebody in the hunt for the AFC North crown is taking a loss next week. Let’s hope the Ravens attend to business so they may prepare for Cincinnati to travel to M & T the following week.