Elite kind of day for the Ravens
It’s not often that the Ravens, or any team for that matter, puts up an offensive performance so impressive, so fast, that it sends you searching through the record books for which historic numbers could fall by days end. The Ravens came out and lit up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree before taking their foot off the gas, coasting to a convincing 48-17 win down in Tampa, improving to 4-2 on the young season. It’s also their second win against the NFC South (38-10 vs. CAR).
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We know it’s a passing league these days, but Joe Flacco’s five TDs in the first 15 minutes and 51 seconds was something unreal, and a new record for fastest to reach five TDs in a game. At this point, it was realistic to think that he would break the NFL single game record of seven. Joe Flacco was the first Raven to throw for five TDs since Tony Banks did it early in the 2000 season.
The Ravens 28 first quarter points tied a record and it had been done ten times before.
Had Tampa’s offense kept up, maybe the Ravens could have chased some records. But it was clear up 38-0 at the half that the goal was to keep to the ball on the ground, and don’t get anyone hurt with the game out of reach.
One guy who has faced a myriad of criticisms in the young season is Torrey Smith. Smith silenced the critics early and often finding the end-zone on the Ravens first two drives, finishing the day with four catches for 51 yards and the two scores. Credit Smith for making catches tough catches over the middle on slant patterns where painful hits can await, but also criticize the Tampa defense for not getting physical on the line. They didn’t bother jamming Torrey Smith which the scouting report would suggest you should do in order to throw off he and Flacco’s timing.
With Marlon Brown scratched from the dress list for the game, Michael Campanaro was activated and the rookie’s first catch was a 19 yard jump ball in the back of the endzone. Kamar Aiken scored in the first quarter outburst as well. Flacco was able to spread the ball out to eight different receivers on his first 15 completions. The only receiver targeted that didn’t make a catch, Jacoby Jones, with yet another drop. After the performance by Aiken and Campanaro, you can’t sell me on Jones ever being a WR on anything more than a Hail Mary scenario. Jones did have a decent kick return out to midfield late in the game.
Steve Smith also joined in the slaughter catching the final of Joe Flacco’s five TD passes. Smith has a storied career facing Tampa as a long-time rival from his days on the Carolina Panthers. He entered play with 1404 yards against the Bucs, second most yards against any opponent in the league (1493 against the Saints). Smith finished with another 100+ yard day, 111 to be exact, on five catches and the one score.
After taking a huge 38-0 lead, the Ravens committed to the ground game to put it away. Joe Flacco attempted just seven passes in the second half, and Tyrod Taylor attempted none in his short appearance.
Another advantage of having the big lead, you are able to take a look at some other players who otherwise might not get much playing time. It didn’t take long to see why. When Tyrod Taylor entered late in the fourth quarter, he also was joined by center Gino Gradkowski, who lost his role as a starter when the Ravens traded for Jeremy Zuttah in the offseason. On their first drive, a botched snap led to a fumble and the Ravens first turnover. One of the very few blemished on an otherwise perfect day.
All of the Ravens three headed rushing attack got involved, but Bernard Pierce, despite leading the team with 15 carries, left a lot to be desired. Justin Forsett was the starter and work horse early on. He rushed 14 times for 111 yards (7.9 YPC). Pierce only could muster 32 yards on his 15 totes (2.1 YPC) He just didn’t appear to have the burst like Forsett has. Even Lorenzo Taliaferro had nearly better output on only two carries, with 29 yards, thanks largely to a 25 yard rush late in the contest. Pierce did find the endzone from four yards out behind bulldozer type blocking from James Hurst filling in for Eugene Monroe, John Urschel filling in for Keleche Osemele, Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, and Kyle Juszczyk.
On the defensive side, lets welcome back relentless pass rush into the fold. Not only did the Ravens front seven notch five sacks, they knocked opposing QB Mike Glennon down 15 times. 15 hits on 49 dropbacks means he got lit up almost once every three times he attempted to pass. He won’t be taking his lineman out for steak dinners this week. At halftime, the Ravens defense had allowed just 96 yards of offense from the Buccaneers. C.J. Mosley was once again the team’s leading tackler with eight total, and six solo. We also saw Jimmy Smith come up with the first interception by a Ravens DB all season. Darian Stewart had a gift potential second one, but couldn’t hang on.
Not quite sure how much we all should read into the fact that the Ravens defense didn’t force a punt in the second half. They allowed three straight scoring drives to start the second half, then the Bucs turned it over twice on downs. Once after a ten play, 64 yard drive.
With the win, first place in the division was up in the air as the AFC North leading Bengals trailed the Carolina Panthers. That match-up ended in a tie, so the Bengals retain first place for another week.
Next week, the Ravens hope to continue the onslaught against the NFC South when they host the Atlanta Falcons. In two games, Baltimore has outscored the NFC South 86-27.
Glennon: 24/44 (54.55%) 314 yds, 7.1 Y/A, 2 TD, 1 INT, 5 sacks
Martin: 11 att, 45 yds, 1 rec, 3 yds
Jackson: 4 rec, 66 yds
Murphy: 7 rec, 72 yds, 1 TD
Evans: 4 rec, 55 yds, 1 TD
Ravens Stats (w/gRBZ, 0.0 is average, over 1.0 is good)
Flacco : 21/29 (72..41%), 306 yds, 10.55 Y/A, 5 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks. gRBZ: 2.4172 This was far and away Joe Flacco’s best game of his 102 game career. His previous bests were week 3 in 2012 against NE (1.95) and just two weeks ago against Carolina (1.758)
Forsett: 14 att, 111 yds. gRBZ: 1.341
Pierce: 15 att, 32 yds. gRBZ: -0.1108
T. Smith: 4 rec, 51 yds, 2 TDs. gRBZ: 1.0179
S. Smith: 5 rec, 110 yds, 1 TD. gRBZ: 0.7708
Aiken: 2 rec, 20 yds, 1 TD
Campanaro: 2 rec, 28 yds, 1 TD
Gillmore, 2 rec, 16 yds
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]