Santa did not deliver a lump of coal to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, he brought them a nice present.
A playoff spot.
The Kansas City Chiefs were beating the San Diego Chargers and a familiar situation arose. Last year Baltimore needed help to get into the playoffs and everything went their way, except they did not win. This time they had help AND they won. Cleveland had a small lead throughout most of the game and it seemed that the Ravens would be watching the playoffs from their homes.
Baltimore started off slow, and did not wake up until the 4th quarter. Joe Flacco threw a bomb, a 53 yard pass to Torrey Smith and followed up with a bullet pass to Smith on a post route for a touchdown. The Ravens never looked back after that. What stood out was the strong defensive performance. After all the three and outs from the offense, the defense kept things alive. They sacked the rookie quarterback four times, putting him under fire all day. Ladarius Webb seems to be back at top form, he got a game sealing interception which felt good considering the ravens have not been the ball hawks of the past this season. I give credit to the rookie quarterback Connor Shaw for coming into Baltimore for his first ever NFL game and delivering 177 yards completing 14/28 passes. He handled the pressure very well and he had some help from his teammates. Local Towson University product Terrance West ran for 94 yards in his home town, which can take some pressure off a quarterback. Also Jordan Cameron notched 41 yards receiving and Taylor Gabriel got 66 yards who was playing in place of Josh Gordon (suspended for missing practice, along with Johnny Manziel).
Joe Flacco is a quiet leader right? ……think again.
At halftime he stood up and spoke his mind to his guys. He was fired up to go out there and win. It’s obvious that he lives by his own words as previously stated above he woke up in the 4th quarter and paved the way getting his team the win. Maybe Joe needs to speak out more often, because what he said made a huge impact on his team. Flacco will make history next week, he has only missed the playoffs one time in his first seven years, this will be a record in the super bowl era. I think that in order for this team to go all the way, he must carry them all the way and play lights out football. We hope the lights do not go out next week.
Pittsburgh it is!
Baltimore will head to the Steel City to face off against Big Ben and his crew. The Steelers beat Cincinnati and are officially the AFC NORTH CHAMPS. This means that Baltimore will have to bring their “A” game in order to pull out a win and continue on in the playoffs. The Bengals are off to face the Colts. Baltimore split the series this season with the Steelers, both teams winning at home by 20 points. This will be the ultimate deciding factor on which team is better this season. Pittsburgh may be without star running back Le’Veon Bell who suffered a hyper extended knee against the Bengals, this could be good for the Ravens because Bell has been a “beastmode” in black and yellow. The key to beating the Steelers is….well a lot of things. I think the most important thing is that the Ravens need to run the ball in order to start off strong. If they can run well, the offense will flow well. Joe will be more comfortable and he will be able to run more play action. The defense must be bold. Repeat, they must be BOLD. They cannot play conservatively because Big Ben is capable of some scary things. If Bell plays they need to limit his success on the ground and in the air, he is an all around solid running back. He can power through holes and go catch a ball and carry it the distance. The Ravens must sack Ben. The more pressure the better, and the secondary needs to be aggressive, press at the line and break up passes. Antonio Brown and Heath Miller will play a big part of this game, on the flip side I expect Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr, Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels to step up and make plays for the Ravens. The fact that Baltimore made the playoffs at 10-6 in the toughest division made the holidays much better. Let’s enjoy the New Year and get pumped up for January Football!