Ravens take over first place with 29-7 win
Baltimore is making football look easy of late, as the defense took care of business in front of the home crowd, 29-7 over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. A Falcons team with a history of having an explosive offense in the Matt Ryan era, could only muster the one score against the Ravens and it came with the Ravens already well ahead, 20-0 at that point.
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In the last two weeks, Baltimore has outscored their opponents 77-24. After three games, they have outscored the NFC South 115-34. The Ravens will travel to New Orleans in four weeks, and it will follow the Ravens bye week.
It wasn’t the perfect game that it was a week ago as the Ravens did lose the turnover battle (2 INts, 1 fumble) and they were penalized nine times. Jacoby Jones continues to have his struggles with his hands. But they continued to be efficient on offense averaging 6.0 yards per play, and 9.5 yards per pass attempt while possessing the ball for over 33 minutes. Efficient would be the best way to describe their decent day as the Ravens only went three and out once, on the second drive of the game (not counting the three plays before a field goal to end the first half).
On the defensive side, the pass rush is back. We saw it against the Bucs last week when they sacked Mike Glennon five times, and hit him 15 times of 49 drop backs. Today, Matt Ryan was sacked five more times, and hit nine times total. Elvis Dumervil and Pernell McPhee got two apiece, and Terrell Suggs put “the hay in the barn” with a sack for a safety in the final minutes.
Most important thing to take away from today’s action, the Ravens move into first place atop the AFC North. They accomplish that feat after the Bengals go winless in their last three games (loss @ NE, tie vs. CAR, loss @ IND) to drop to 3-2-1. Great win, but focus must quickly shift to the upcoming matchup against…you guessed it…Cincinnati at their place.
First place will indeed be on the line next Sunday afternoon as a Ravens loss will place them percentage points behind Cincy. That tie is really saving the Bengals from not being a full game and a half behind the Ravens right now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still a factor sitting there at 3-3, with a chance to go 4-3 as they face the Houston Texans on Monday night. Pittsburgh cannot move into first place next week as even in a best case scenario for them, being 5-3 after next week, a tie favors the Ravens currently. It would be even more important for the Ravens to win next Sunday to avoid the sweep from the Bengals, giving Cincy any tie breaker advantage. However, it’s unlikely that Baltimore and Cincy finish with similar records as it’s a longshot to assume the Ravens will notch a tie sometime down the road.
The Bengals were without the services of all-pro receiver A.J. Green for the last two weeks, and the absence was certainly felt by the Bengals as they failed to score a single point against the Colts in a 27-0 shutout. Cincinnati amassed just 135 yards of offense, most of that even in garbage time. Andy Dalton was 18 for 38 without his go to guy in Green. He leaned heavily on Jermaine Gresham completing 10 passes to him.
Make sure to keep an eye on A.J. Green’s status this week as he instantly makes Cincinnati a better team. Keep in mind, it won’t be easy regardless. They did run up 37 points without Green a week ago at home against the Panthers.
Also keep in mind, the 23 points the Ravens allowed to the Bengals in week 1 is the most points they have allowed in a game all year (best in the NFL).
Final thing to keep in mind, A.J. Green is the one who buried the Ravens in that week one loss with a 77-yard TD grab with under five minutes in that game. It was a bit a fluke as the ball was tipped to him, but not so much a fluke as the coverage could have been better, and an open field tackle attempt was completely botched. It was the only TD allowed by the Ravens defense that day, combined with five Mike Nugent field goals.
The Ravens are a much different team just six weeks removed from this previous meeting with the Bengals as it seems like the kinks from installing a new system have worked themselves out when they struggled to score 16 points in that game. Justin Forsett has been a pleasant surprise and is possibly a top five back in the NFL. Steve Smith is exceeding expectations every week and is a top five receiver right now. Torrey Smith is getting involved and they aren’t missing a beat without Dennis Pitta. Despite the two INT’s Joe Flacco threw today, he is on pace for his best season statistically to date, in all categories. The defense is one of the top units in the NFL and getting better with the aggressive pass rush we have seen lately.
With first place on the line once again next week, the Ravens will no doubt enter the game just the way you would like them to; red hot. All of the pressure is on the Cincy Bengals this week as they will need to answer the umpteen questions that stem from getting goose egged. A feat in my opinion that is completely unacceptable in this day in age when scoring is at an all time high.
Ryan: 29/44 (65.9%) 228 yds (5.18 Y/A), 1 TD, 5 sacks
Jackson: 8 att, 33 yds, 1 rec, 3 yds
White: 9 rec, 100 yds, 1 TD
Jones: 5 rec. 56 yds
Ravens Stats (w/gRBZ, 0.0 is average, over 1.0 is good)
Flacco: 16/25 (64.0%), 258 yds (10.32 Y/A) 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 sack. gRBZ: 0.6376
Forsett: 23 att, 95 yds. gRBZ: 1.2562
Pierce: 8 att, 21 yds, 1 TD. gRBZ: 0.6007
T. Smith: 6 rec, 81 yds, 1 TD. gRBZ: 1.1436 (Torrey Smith’s TD grab was his 200th career reception)
S. Smith: 3 rec, 67 yds. gRBZ: -0.5228
O. Daniels: 6 rec, 58 yds, 1 TD. gRBZ: 1.1127
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]