Wow! That is about all I can say after today’s Ravens home opener. What an electric atomphsere in the stands on a beautiful if not slightly hot day.
First, Joe Flacco was unbelievable. I know the stats aren’t Hall of Fame worthy, but Flacco’s performance was so much more than numbers. The poise, the presence in the pocket, and the way he checked down to receivers. How about the confidence that Cam Cameron showed in the rookie, going with a no huddle, I don’t know what was more impressive–Cameron letting the rookie use it or the way Flacco operated the no huddle attack. I couldn’t believe Flacco’s fleet feet on that 38 yard touchdown scamper down the sideline. How about no interceptions or fumbles?
Did Flacco ever look like a lost rookie today? The answer is no; instead he showed more composure than most veterans in the league. It’s only one game and we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. But, we may have at long last found our quarterback.
How about the crowd reaction to the kid? Is this town starved for a star quarterback or what? The chants of “Let’s go Flacco” where deafening. What an awesome moment to see the crowd pulling for this kid.
Flacco was far from the only bright spot on this day. The win would not have been possible without the great play of the offensive line; they absolutely whipped the Bengals in the trenches. In the fourth quarter when everyone in the stadium knew what the Ravens were going to do (run the ball), the Bengals couldn’t stop Le’Ron McClain. McClain following fullback Lorenzo Neal dominated the fourth quarter, and the Ravens enjoyed over 36 minutes of time of possession in an old fashion display of smash mouth football. On the pass protection front, the line gave great protection to Flacco and allowed the rookie the ability to go through his progressions. In all the line allowed the Ravens to rush for 235 yards and allowed no sacks. Memo to Willis McGahee: your knee, head and heart better get better quickly or you might not get in at all. This team is already deep with rookie Ray Rice and McClain carrying the load.
The defense was equally terrific today holding the Bengals potent offense in check all day. This just in, the Bengals are going to have big problems on the line this year. They have struggled all preseason with the run offense and can’t protect Carson Palmer, but I digress. It was finally great to see the Ravens secondary (Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed and Dawan Landry) healthy and on the field at the same time. Was Chad Ocho Cinco, Johnson or whatever this clown’s name is, actually on the trip this weekend? Ocho Cinco was nonexistent and Chris Perry got no running room thanks to Haloti Ngata and company. The front seven controlled the Bengals’ offense and showed that age has not caught up to them. These old dogs can still hunt.
It all added up to a very thrilling opening game and special congratulations to John Harbaugh on his first career coaching win. His team was very well prepared and conditioned, especially in the fourth quarter.
It’s a great start and as Drew Forrester likes to say, you can’t win them all unless you win the first. Off to Houston with a 1-0 record next week and maybe the return of Kelly Gregg and the definite return of Fabian Washington to reinforce the defense.