Monday, December 21, 2009

Bear Hunters

Todd Heap caught 2 of Joe Flacco's 4 touchdowns.

The Ravens solidified their playoff hopes yesterday with a big win over the Chicago Bears, 31-7. It was a day where everything seemed to go the Ravens' way, from Joe Flacco's career best 4 touchdowns to the playoff hopeful Jaguars, Broncos, Dolphins and Jets all losing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, won on the last play of their game, beating the Green Bay Packers. The Steelers, at 7-7, are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and with the Ravens traveling to Pittsburgh this weekend, things are shaping up for another epic game with the Ravens most hated rival.

As for the game yesterday, it was all Ravens all the time.

In a game that was delayed to 4:15 p.m. to give the stadium crew more time to remove snow from the premises (the MSA and MTA did an awesome job by the way), including a delayed flight from Chicago for the Bears, the Ravens forced 6 turnovers en route to their victory.

Right off the bat, the Ravens cashed in on an early Dominique Foxworth interception of Jay Cutler, as Flacco connected with Todd Heap for his first of 4 TD's on the afternoon. On the next drive, the Bears held the ball for almost 6 minutes and drove to the Ravens' 14 yard line before Jarret Johnson intercepted Cutler. Six plays and 81 yards later, Flacco hit Heap for his second TD, putting the Ravens up 14-0.

The next drive saw the Bears move the ball to the Ravens 4-yard line with first and goal, where they failed to score on a 4th down. At that point, it was clear that a win was in the cards for the Ravens.

The Ravens allowed the Bears to return a punt for a TD, and closed the lead to 14-7 at the half, but the Ravens responded immediately after halftime, as Flacco hit WR Demetrius Williams for his 3rd touchdown of the day (and Williams' first TD of the season).

On the kickoff, the Bears fumbled, and the Ravens recovered the ball and after 5 plays, Flacco hit Derrick Mason for Flacco's 4th TD of the game. After a Billy Cundiff 40-yard field goal put the Ravens up 31-7, both teams essentially packed it in during the 4th quarter.

On the ground, Ray Rice rushed for 87 yards. The receivers, Mason and Williams, each had big games, racking up 87 and 71 yards respectively. Williams, who was sitting behind Mark Clayton for most of the season has taken advantage of the opportunity he was given when Clayton was injured. In the Green Bay game a few weeks ago, he was the target of 2 deep passes in the endzone that drew pass interference penalties. Even though he didn't record a catch in that game, he was a threat on the deep ball. And yesterday, Williams got open consistently and his TD catch was in tight coverage, so tight, that the refs called pass interference on the Bears defender.

On defense, the Ravens allowed the Bears to move the ball during the first half, but they tightened the screws during halftime and the Bears only managed 62 yards of offense in the second half. They didn't allow a point, as the Bears' lone touchdown came on a special teams play.

If The Ravens win their next 2 games, they will make the playoffs as the #5 seed. But the road to the playoffs still goes through Pittsburgh, as we thought it would at the beginning of the season.

Funny how things change during the course of a season, and after the Steelers loss to the Browns a weel ago that knocked them down to 6-7, they looked to be dead in the water. But next week is sure to be another epic game between two division rivals, each with their season on the line.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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