Well, it appears as if, by renaming this feature, “Play Like Ray Rice,” we served to Jinx Mighty Mouse, as he failed to break the 100-yards from scrimmage mark for the first time since Week 3. Rice managed just 54 yards rushing and 17 receiving. As such, consider this the “further notice” that was promised as to when the Nest would put calling the player of the game the “Ray Rice” on the shelf for a while.
Since calling the game MVP “Ray Rice” had a detrimental effect on his play, maybe this week we can reverse-jinx a consistent scrub, and turn his play around, by honoring the game’s Least Valuable Player in his honor.
Away we go.
Did Not Play Like Dominique Foxworth: Jarret Johnson
Gotta be honest. It wasn’t easy to pick a game MVP this week, after that disastrous performance in Green Bay. Double J, however, has evolved into the team’s most consistent defensive player, and had what could have been a game-changing play Monday night.
Johnson was tied for third on the team with four tackles, and now has 33 on the season, just 12 shy of his career high set last season.
JJ made a great reaction to Aaron Rodgers’ pass that deflected up in the air off Donald Driver’s leg, resulting in his first pick since 2004. The play gave the Ravens’ offense the ball right back just one play after they had finally gotten on the board to pull within 10 at 17-7. They would score a touchdown just 3 plays later, and the Ravens suddenly had all the momentum in a game that had been a Packer blowout at the half.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the rest of the team, and Ravens fans, this week’s goat made sure to hand all that momentum right back to Green Bay…
Played Like Dominique Foxworth – Joe Flacco
Joe, Joe, Joe.
Natty Joe had arguably the worst game of his professional career this week. His 27.2 passer rating was his third lowest with the Ravens, trailing just the 22 and 18 he put up in the final two Pittsburgh games in 2008 for ineptitude. With the Ravens facing 2nd-and-goal from the 3 yard line, trailing 24-14, Joe made a play that was WAY too reminiscent of one Kyle Boller for the B’More faithful.
Many are ripping Flacco for the decision to throw back across his body to Demetrius Williams, but I’ll give him half a pass: Joe himself said that the decision was “bad” and the throw was “worse,” and I tend to agree. The decision wasn’t AWFUL – Demetrius was open, had Joe put the ball in the right place. Unfortunately, the throw was all sorts of terrible. With the entire left side of the end zone to work with, why Joe threw the ball directly at Williams, instead of lofting it towards the opposite sideline where only his guy had a chance for it…well, I have no idea.
His first interception was, however, unbelievably dumb from a decision standpoint. There were no fewer than FOUR Packers in the area where Joe delivered that ball, covering just two receivers. It’s understandable that the flea-flicker makes Ravens FANS pumped up to see a big play, but the quarterback of the team needs to be level-headed enough in that situation to recognize that nothing is there, and to throw the ball somewhere – anywhere – else.
On his third pick (yeesh), A.J. Hawk made an outstanding play, no doubt about it. Flacco, however, was likely pressing after the end zone game-killer.
Flacco’s physical pain may have been less than in previous weeks on Monday, but his play was downright painful to watch. On a night where Joe seemed to be moving around better than he had in months, picking up his most rushing yards (16) since picking up 18 in Week, his decision making killed his team. For the second time in three games, he threw a fourth quarter pick that dramatically changed the face of the game in what was ultimately a Ravens loss.
The Ravens’ coaches always tell us that, once Joe makes a mistake, he never makes the same one again.
Well, if that’s the case, he should have learned more than enough this week to last him quite a while.
Flacco needs to finish strong over these last four games, to quash any chance of a “sophomore slump” tag be applied to his entire 2009 campaign.