Played Like a Raven – “Flacco to Boldin”
Whether Joe’s first pass of the day was simply a little leftover hiccup from Cincinnati, or a huge wake up call that b-slapped him mentally back into the game, things were different from pass #2 onward. “Good Joe,” showed up, sound mechanics and all, stepping into his throws and delivering the ball into some tight windows.
More often than not, the recipient of those strong throws was Anquan Boldin, who finds himself in this spot for the second time in just three weeks as a Raven. Boldin has immediately brought a nastiness to the wide receiver position in Baltimore, a dimension that has been sorely lacking for years. Watching “Q” go up and snatch the ball out of the air has quickly become a favorite sight of the purple faithful, and for Joe Flacco. Had he not been interfered with not once, but TWICE (both uncalled), Boldin would have had an even bigger day and at least one more touchdown. As these two continue to develop chemistry and confidence in one another, “Flacco-to-Boldin” could quickly become one of the most familiar phrases on NFL highlight shows.
Did Not Play Like a Raven – Run Defense
I struggled a bit with this one; that is, deciding exactly who to pin Peyton Hillis’ 144-yard performance on. First, I was going to put the lion’s share of the blame on Haloti Ngata. After all, as the best player on the defensive line and a guy who many consider to be one of the top tackles in the NFL, he should have been able to do more personally to clog up the middle. Watching the game again though, Haloti wasn’t even on the field for a few of Hillis’ big gains.
So I thought, “lets put this one on the defensive line in general.” It wasn’t just Ngata who had a bad day – Kelly Gregg and Trevor Pryce didn’t do much either. Then again, when a running back busts through the line like that, a team that supposedly has a strong linebacking corps should be able to bottle him up just a few yards downfield, not deep in the secondary. Alright then, let’s go with: The Entire Front 7 “did not Play Like Ravens.”
However, watching the pathetic attempts of some of the Ravens’ secondary in trying to bring down Hillis (looking at you, Fabian Washington and Tom Zbikowski), there was no way I could just let them off the hook.
So we’ll go this route: The ENTIRE Ravens’ defense played un-Raven-like…when the Browns ran the ball.
They were decent when Seneca Wallace dropped back to throw, flushing him from the pocket regularly and ultimately allowing only 141 passing yards on the afternoon. Granted, they weren’t exactly challenged (again), but I’m still convinced that the reports of the death of the B’More secondary have been greatly exaggerated. Once Ed Reed comes back, things will only get better.
The play of the pass defense doesn’t excuse the failures to contain Hillis though. We know that this team has a very stout front seven, so we have to believe this was strictly an aberration. Though they’d never admit it, it was perhaps a result of the defense looking past the Browns a bit with Pittsburgh looming.
They’ll have to be MUCH better against Rashard Mendenhall this week, or it likely won’t matter that the Steelers are on what amounts to their fourth string quarterback at this point.
Photos c/o Baltimore Sun