Perfect timing for the bye week
The boo birds showed up from the home crowd heading into the half of today’s game as a 7-7 tie against the 2-6 Tennessee Titans was not acceptable. Not only was it a tie game, but the Ravens defense allowed Tennessee to march down the field with ease on their first two drives. The Ravens went three and out on offense to start the game. Follow that up with the run game not getting going, Joe Flacco facing pressure, but also playing a bit timid as he nurses a sore knee from last week. The receivers forgot their hands again as well. The highlight was a naked pitch on 4th and 1 deep in Titans territory that Justin Forsett outran the only defender to the edge on the pitch, and turned up field a few yards for the TD.
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Maybe it was the boos, maybe it was halftime adjustments, but something clicked for the Ravens in the second half. The defense began to stymy rookie QB Zach Mettenberger, and force numerous punts. The Ravens found the end-zone two more times in the 21-7 win, and they improve to 6-4 heading into their bye week. Good news is the Steelers suffered a surprising loss to the Jets and also fall to 6-4. The Browns lead the division after their Thursday night win in the Battle of Ohio over the Bengals, improving to 6-3, with Cincinnati falling to 5-3-1.
It’s the first time since 1935 that each team in a single division has been at least two games over .500
The Ravens bye week is upon us and it couldn’t come at a better time, for a number of reasons.
Joe Flacco must be happy that a week off is coming up. He played though some discomfort in his knee that he suffered last week in Pittsburgh. It was noticeable today as many of his passed were thrown off his back foot, even some of them when he wasn’t being rushed. I was afraid to do more damage to that knee, and it can lead to inconsistencies. So the week off should benefit him, and it will be important to have him at 100% going forward for the final six games. Each one likely very important in a tight division race.
Sticking with the injury bugs, most of the offensive line has battled nagging injuries over the last few weeks. It’s shown as the running game has stalled a bit, and Flacco is facing a bit more pressure than he had early in the season when he went three straight games without being sacked. Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele missed time earlier in the season dealing with knee injuries. Marshal Yanda and Jeremy Zuttah are battling a knee and ankle respectively. It will be nice to get these guys healthy again as these games are often decided by the play in the trenches.
Another reason the bye is needed, there are some veterans at the skill positions. Justin Forsett, Steve Smith, Owen Daniels, could all benefit from a week off to rehab. Forsett has already eclipsed his career high for carries in a season so there is no telling if and when he will wear down. Owen Daniels already missed some time this year, and usually gets a “veterans” day off from practice each week. Steve Smith, well, at 35, he isn’t getting any younger. Not to mention that it’s been four games since Smith has eclipsed 100 receiving yards, or found the end-zone. He posted a season low 17 yards on three catches in Sundays contest.
You can’t mention the defense without mentioning this secondary. Following the Pittsburgh game, Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown were shown the door for their poor efforts in helping to allow Ben Roethlisberger to throw six TDs for the second straight week. The Ravens signed Tremain Jacobs and Danny Gorrer. Gorrer was in the rotation behind Lardarius Webb and Anthony Levine, and also came up with an INT to seal the win. With the fresh faces, including Will Hill at safety who has played just his second full game now, it will be good for these guys to take a week and work on the communication, the signals, learning to gel. Yes, it was the lowly Titans they faced, but no one played in a way that cost themselves a job when they get back at it in two weeks.
The secondary will need to really step up when they get back to action because they will be playing pretty much the opposite of the Titans, as the Ravens travel to New Orleans (where they won a little game called the Super Bowl last time they went to the Superdome) and face the always potent on offense Saints led by Drew Brees and now a 100% healthy Jimmy Graham. Don’t be fooled by the 4-5 record the Saints currently sport. They can bury the opponent in a flash with TDs if the defense isn’t up to snuff. The offense will have to be on its A-game to both keep up with Brees, and let crowd noise in the dome not become a factor.
Following the Saints, Baltimore returns home for San Diego, travels to Miami, home for Jacksonville, at Houston, and finish up with a home meeting with the Browns that didn’t seem like it at the start of the season, but could be a winner take all for a playoff spot kind of game. The Ravens currently have a better record than each of their remaining opponents, and will need to win at least four of the final six to reach the benchmark 10 wins that is usually good enough to get into January.
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]