It wasn’t hard to predict that the Ravens would cover the 13 point spread against Kansas City on Sunday, but you would have been hard pressed to find anybody predicting the fashion in which they would accomplish it; that is, by putting up 38 points, allowing another 24, and setting a team record for total offense in the process.
It seems pretty unbelievable that, the way the Vinny Testaverde-led Ravens of back in the day moved the ball up and down the field (when it seemed like they lost every game 45-42), it is now Joe Flacco’s Ravens that hold the all-time team lead with 501 total yards. Flacco-verde put up the first 300-yard performance of his career, totaling 307 yards through the air and also throwing for three scores for the first time. Ray Rice and the Ravens’ backs chipped in as well, with Rice picking up 108 yards and Willis McGahee adding 44 and a touchdown, and another score on a short reception.
The Ravens’ lack of weapons in the passing game was on display for all to see, as Mark Clayton pulled in five catches for 77 yards and 1 TD, Derrick Mason caught four for 47, and Todd Heap five for 74 and a score. Granted, it was against the Chiefs, but the calls from Brandon Marshall should subside considerably, at least for this week.
The talking heads that haven’t looked at a stat sheet or watched any of the game tape are all aflutter today about how the Ravens’ defense has lost a step. Mike Greenberg said they are “getting old.” You’ll hear plenty of goofs talking about how the losses of Rex Ryan and Bart Scott were felt immediately, as the Ravens gave up 24 to the lowly Chiefs.
The Chiefs put up 188 total yards of offense on the day. Larry Johnson averaged 1.8 yards per carry, and totaled 20. The Ravens have the #3 overall defense in the NFL after Sunday’s win. The fluky plays kept Kansas City in the game – the blocked punt for a TD, the big interception return setting up a short field. This game was very close to being 41-3.
Which is not to marginalize those plays in any way. Those things happen in the NFL, and games are played on the scoreboard, not in the box score. Those kinds of costly errors are the kind that can lose a game for you, especially against better teams.
Special teams had a horrendous day for the Ravens. Again, head-scratching because of having a head coach with a special teams background – but the aforementioned block punt, a missed 41-yard FG, and absolutely nothing generated in the punt or kick return games added up to a very disappointing effort from all sides. Hopefully the return units can jell a bit better over the next few weeks, but Chris Carr looked indecisive with the ball in his hands. We might see more of Ledarius Webb back there in coming games as well.
The Ravens were unable to escape the game without any injury concerns. Tavares Gooden tweaked his knee on special teams, and we will look forward to hearing more on him this week. Gooden, replacing Bart Scott, needs to prove that he can stay healthy after missing most of last season. Jameel McClain and Brendan Ayanbadejo filled in admirably after Gooden went out. Tom Zbikowski also suffered a concussion. From my view in section 507, I also saw Ed Reed hunched over a few times – hopefully just some cramping, but I haven’t heard anything so far. Ed was more aggressive with his tackling than we saw in preseason, throwing his shoulder into people on his four tackles.
A little more on Flacco – his great fantasy numbers notwithstanding, Joe was actually a bit off for the day. His passes sailed a few times, and he probably should have had more than just the one interception. Still, Flacco called the game “fun,” and it was damn sure fun to watch the Ravens offense, something we haven’t been able to say for a while – not since the second half of the 2006 season, when Hurricane Billick had the offense rolling all the way until they met the immovable object that was the Indianapolis Colts defense in the playoffs.
A lot of credit for the Ravens (That’s “R-A-V-E-N-S-‘,” not “RAVEN’S”) strong offensive day has to go to rookie RT Michael Oher. Oher was a beast, as he’s been since he arrived in B’More, and his presence was what allowed Todd Heap to have the vintage performance that he was able to. Michael Oher will be a huge factor for them this season.
One more bone to pick – this one with Cam Cameron. Sure, your offense put up 38 points and had the best day ever for the Ravens. Well done, and congratulations. However….STOP RUNNING YOUR BACKUP QB AROUND AS A WR! Especially if John Beck is going to be inactive on most game days [Edit – Thanks to Duker for pointing out that Beck was listed as the emergency QB], I really don’t like seeing Troy Smith running routes, instead of holding a clipboard. Even if he is just out there as a decoy, it seems like an unnecessary risk, and one where said risk far outweighs any reward. Am I overreacting here?
Last year John Harbaugh’s Ravens made a habit of absolutely decimating inferior teams, a welcome change from the Brian Billick days. Yesterday saw a bit of a return to those old days, when even bad teams would hang around all day on our team. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the new Kansas City Chiefs aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they will be. Still, it wasn’t the nice, relaxing day at the ballpark that most of us had expected. The Ravens need to eliminate those huge costly mistakes, and quick, because things get markedly more difficult next week in San Diego.