Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ravens edge Saints

Ray Rice had a huge day, both on the ground and through the air.

While walking down the route 70 on-ramp to to get to the #40 QuickBus stop, Ben and I saw a bad omen. A Raven had been hit by a car and lay dead on the asphalt. A feeling of dread rushed through me. Was this a sign? Were the Ravens going to lose to the Saints?

Thankfully, that omen was proven false, as the Ravens snuck by the Saints, 30-24 in the kind of close game that the Ravens have made a habit out of losing this year.

Actually, the Ravens played what could be called their most solid game of the season. Cam Cameron went back to the Ravens bread and butter -- running the ball a whopping 39 times. That meant Ray Rice had a huge day, carrying 31 times for 153 yards and a score.

The ground game was running on all cylinders last Sunday, and the Ravens simply dared the Saints to stop them. But the Saints, thanks to some very poor tackling, could not.

Joe Flacco continued his streak of mistake-free football play, passing for just 172 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. He completed 50% of his passes, but on a day that Flacco wasn't asked to do much, he did what he had to do to win the game, completing several big passes to extend drives.

Just to show you how big a day Rice had, he lead receivers with 80 yards and another touchdown. And when Flacco only completes 10 passes, guys like Anquan Boldin (1 catch, 2 yards) and TJ Houshmandzadeh (2 catches, 15 yards) aren't going to have big days.

But the Ravens won, so everyone should be happy. Let's hope.

The defense played a solid game, and had the Saints not scored their final touchdown on a fluke catch, the game wouldn't have been as close as it was. But that said, the Ravens held the explosive Saints offense to just 269 yards of total offense, intercepted Drew Brees once and sacked him 3 times. They kept him flustered, which meant he had to get rid of the ball quick and missed out on what could have been potentially big gains.

The only question mark of the day came with 9 seconds left in the game when John Harbaugh opted to kick a field goal to put the Ravens up 30-24 instead of going for it on 4th and 1 and ending the game. Had the Saints been able to return the kick for a touchdown, the loss would have created a mob outside of M&T Bank Stadium after the game. Thankfully, it all worked out, but I didn't see the harm in going for it. Had they not converted, the Saints would have gotten the ball on their own 9-yard line, with 9 seconds left and no timeouts. And ironically, DeSean Jackson of the Eagles did the very thing that Ravens fans had feared would happen when the Ravens kicked off to the Saints. Jackson's punt return capped off a wild comeback win over the Giants.

Next week, the Ravens take on the Browns in Cleveland, where wins are never easy. And with a win, the Ravens clinch a playoff spot, their third playoff appearance in three years -- a team record.

And yet people want Harbaugh fired.

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