The Ravens dominated the first 10 minutes of Sunday’s game in Charlotte.
And they dominated the final 10 minutes.
In between, there were 40 other minutes of non-descript, lethargic-at-times football that will have many of the purple fans boiling the radio airwaves this coming week.
Don’t let the scoreboard fool you.
This was a blowout that never turned into one until the Ravens posted a pair of defensive scores in the 4th quarter to salt away a 37-13 victory to improve to 7-3 on the year.
But don’t let the flow of the game fool you either. The Panthers were NEVER, EVER in the game. It might have been a one-score contest in the final 15 minutes, but that’s only because Baltimore’s offense fell asleep in the second half. If not for one lucky strike from Brian St. Pierre to David Gettis, the biggest cheers in this one – at least from the 30,000 or so Panthers fans who braved a Baltimore invasion – were reserved for the halftime trampoline show at midfield.
There was a rumor that John Fox wanted to use the trampoline to jump off the top of the building at intermission.
Fox stuck around long enough to see his Panthers put up a spirited second half effort, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. And John Harbaugh watched it all, too. I suppose he’ll throw around a lot of “that’s a darn good football team we played today” lines, but the truth of the matter is that his offense sputtered and wobbled enough in the second half to have even the most purple-kool-aid-drinking-fans a tad concerned.
In the first half, though, the Ravens came out firing on all cylinders. Joe Flacco gave the visitors a quick heartbeat with a 56-yard throw to T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the team’s second play from scrimmage and the rout was on, reinforced later with a Billy Cundiff field goal and a late 2nd quarter run into the end zone by Ray Rice.
But the 17-3 lead – which eventually turned to 20-6 in the 3rd quarter – wasn’t extended by the offense, as the Panthers rallied to cut it to 20-13 before another Cundiff field goal and two interceptions for touchdowns (Dawan Landry and Ray Lewis) finalized the scoring. It should be noted that it was on this occasion that the team’s defense accounted for 12 points, the offense accounted for 12 and Cundiff actually outscored them both, with 13 total points. I guess that’s “balanced scoring”, right?
The biggest outcry will no doubt center on the Ravens inability to “put this one away” after racing out to a 14-point intermission lead. As I always like to remind people, “the other team tries too”, and the Panthers secondary is