Ray MF’in Rice!
Again justifying his place as namesake of this weekly award, Ray Rice set the tone for the Ravens’ Wild Card victory over the New England Patriots with his 83-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage. For the day, Mighty Mouse had 159 yards on 22 carries and 2 touchdowns.
He wasn’t the only Ray-ven to tear it up, though.
Played Like a Raven – Ray Lewis
B’More’s original “Ray,” number 52, had himself a day. If Ray Rice set the tone for the offense, Ray Lewis helped set the tone for the defense. With the Ravens already leading 14-0, Lewis picked up his first career postseason sack, a vicious hit on Tom Brady in which he came untouched right through the middle of the Patriots’ offensive front.
Ray ended the day with four solo tackles, but was in on nine more. On one particular play, he came through on a run blitz, was picked up easily by New England, but still managed to get himself back in the play and ultimately was the one to bring down Kevin Faulk after a 7-yard gain.
Lewis played like a man who knows he doesn’t have many chances left at earning a second Lombardi Trophy. He knocked a Tom Brady-led team off for the first time in his career. Hopefully, he will go to Indy this week and play equally inspired football, and knock the Peyton Manning “Monkey” off his back as well.
Did Not Play Like a Raven – Kick Coverage
When you win a road playoff game against 3-time Super Bowl Champs by a 33-14 margin, and the game is never really in doubt, it’s really just nit-picking to find a fault with the effort.
No individual player had a terrible day, nor did any singular unit. Saying that the entire special teams squad “did not Play Like a Raven” would be too harsh, as Matt Katula’s snaps were on-point, which led to a perfect day for Billy Cundiff (2/2 FG, 3/3 XP) and another solid performance by Sam Koch (2 inside the 20). However, the kick coverage teams, on both punts and kickoffs, did not play up to their Top-5 billings (despite a beastly hit by Edgar Jones in the first quarter).
Matt Slater had a 26 yard kickoff return, and Darius Butler a 42 yarder. Butler’s served to set up the Patriots’ only real scoring “drive” of the day (their other touchdown came on the muffed punt that gave them the ball at the Ravens’ 16).
On punts, Julian “I’m the Patriots’ only weapon” Edelman only had one attempt, but on it he manged 28 yards, about 18 of which came when everyone watching was sure the Ravens had managed to wrap him up.
These mistakes didn’t amount to much with the team nursing a two-three TD lead all afternoon. However, giving Peyton Manning short fields on the regular will hardly be a recipe for success this week. Let’s hope the coverage units can get over their Massachusetts hiccup, and return to their dominating ways of the regular season.