A time for family, food, and football.
I wouldn’t want to do it every year like Detroit but hosting a Thanksgiving game for the first time in Baltimore’s professional football history was pretty special.
These and more thoughts about the game – in between bites of turkey of course.
- The Baltimore defense dialed up a special performance for the national audience tonight. They limited the 49ers to 170 Total Yards, and found all sorts of ways to get to the Quarterback with 9 sacks tying a franchise mark set twice before. All this of course was without their franchise face Ray Lewis who sat for the second consecutive game. Not only was Lewis out but his back-up Dannell Ellerbee was also inactive along with Defensive Tackle Arthur Jones. It did give me some reason to worry since stopping the Niners rush would be imperative to a victory. But several players stepped into roles and elevated their games to make up for the losses. Kudos to Chuck Pagano and the whole defensive unit.
- Terrell Suggs. Sizzle was almost unblockable for stretches in the Second Half and led a disruptive attack on Alex Smith. Corey Redding played one of his finest games as a Raven with 2.5 sacks of his own and was a force inside all night. Haloti Ngata seemed like his old self after trying to shake nagging injuries over the past weeks. He appeared quicker to the ball and was more th e player we saw in the First Quarter of the season.
- Lardarius Webb. I felt the need to give him his own point because he really has developed into a top flight corner this season. His interception tonight was textbook. Perfect positioning and concentration with Braylon Edwards on his back. Imagine when Jimmy Smith finally hits his stride as a player to match his physical gifts. Baltimore will have a pair of possible shutdown types on the outside for years to come. Pretty exciting.
- Cam Cameron should be commended for sticking to the correct game plan and continuing to feed Ray Rice. The short week did San Francisco no favors and eventually you saw how they wore down on both lines into the Fourth Quarter. As tempting as it may have been to test the secondary he made sure his star got his touches.
- Cam still and seemingly always has had issues in Third and short situations and the Red Zone. Both problems surfaced again tonight. Due to the long drive in the second half the Third Down conversion rate was helped quite a bit as they went 7-15 but early on the Ravens struggled to convert. As for the Red Zone, honestly fans when has Baltimore EVER been effective in the Red Zone? I can only think of twice in the last ten seasons where they were over a 50% conversion rate. But being unable to score on a 1st and Goal from the 1-yd line is perplexing. I’m still trying to figure out if that third down call was indeed a Quarterback Draw. If it was let me write now that it was stupid.
- Joe Flacco was very efficient tonight with a 65% completion rate and fine time consuming drive for a touchdown that put the Ravens up for good. He stepped up when he need to and even ran a few times when presented with a running lane. I do have some questions about his attempt at a moustache. I know its Movember and I’m intrigued to see how it will grow in. The jury is still out though. I kept thinking he looked like “Dirty Randy” from the FX Tv show, “The League”.
- By the way did anyone else notice that Flacco is 15-1 in his last 16 home games? The Raven Nation Army is a tough assignment to crack at the Bank. One thing is for sure this season the Ravens do not lose at Home.
- I wanted to really see if Alex Smith had really become a legit NFL Quarterback amidst this win streak and all I came away with was that I think Jim Harbaugh is a fantastic coach. Smith is still a limited player and he’s being put in situations that he can handle to maximize his success. But when you run on 3rd and long in your own territory often it tells me just how little confidence you have in your man under center. It’s about running the ball (Gore was held to 39 yds.), opportunistic defense (0 sacks- 0 turnovers), and letting Smith manage the game (9 sacks) no matter how much Coach Jimmy hates that term. Sorry San Fran but I’ve seen this brand of football for years and it won’t fly in today’s NFL. It’s the best way to win now however the team needs upgrades to develop into a consistent winner.
- The Offensive Line was very good tonight. They kept Flacco clean most of the night and got push in the run game when they needed it in the Second Half. I still wonder about Red Zone execution though.
- So anyone worried about next week in Cleveland? Yeah me too. This was another big win against a good team. Unfortunately the 2011 Ravens usually follow these efforts up with losses on the road. December is the time to get on a roll and the Ravens can certainly use the rest to get some players healthy but it will incumbent on everyone to focus and take care of business against a team you should beat. That said I don’t get the Gatorade shower that Harbs got after the game? It happened once before in Pittsburgh and it feels a bit cheesy to me. I know the players wanted to get him the win over his brother but I think that celebration is reserved for when you hoist the Lombardi.